March Madness explained

Katie Couric
Global Anchor

By Kaye Foley

What ailment afflicts millions of Americans this time every year? Hint: It’s not spring fever. It’s March Madness.

Welcome to the 2015 NCAA men’s college basketball tournament.

The three-week tournament tips off on March 17. March Madness is one of the biggest sporting events in the United States. It attracts excitement, crowds and a whole lot of revenue for the NCAA.

It all began in 1939. The National Association of Basketball Coaches established a men’s college basketball tournament. After the first year, the NCAA took over. It was known then as the Final Four. The term “March Madness” was actually born out of a high school basketball tournament that began in Illinois in 1908. The term was adopted at the college level in 1982 when CBS sportscaster Brent Musburger used it in a broadcast.

For the first 12 years, only eight teams participated. Over time, the numbers grew until it became the juggernaut of the college basketball world that it is today.

The tournament is made up of 64 teams — technically 68, but four preliminary games knock that number down — and it’s played one-and-done style. The teams are ranked, or seeded, 1 through 16 and sorted into four regions. Each round the numbers shrink, going from 64 to 32 to the Sweet 16 round followed by the Elite Eight. The Elite Eight determines the winners in each region. Those winners face off in the Final Four until there’s only one team left standing at the Big Dance.

March Madness isn’t enjoyed only from the stands. Participating in a pool has become a sport all its own. Millions fill out a bracket each year with their projections of which team will win each round. They’re playing for pride and, in some cases, a big prize.

If you want to get in on the action, you can check out Yahoo Sports’ Tourney Pick’em and celebrity bracket pool here. You can even sign up to be in Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric’s pool!

So whether you catch the madness each March, or you’re observing from the sidelines, at least after watching this video you can say, “Now I get it.”