As college basketball winds down the regular season and prepares for each conference’s tournament, one term is slowly creeping back into the sports vernacular: brackets, brackets and more brackets.
The word, employed sometimes by grammar nerds and practitioners, and its return to the national spotlight of course means the 2016 NCAA Tournament is about to take over the country and office pools.
Just like in previous years, the nation’s 68 best men’s college basketball teams will battle over the course of three weekends for a shot at the Final Four at NRG Stadium in Houston and the right to be crowned national champion.
Odds makers have projected the No. 7 North Carolina Tar Heels (6/1 odds), No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (8/1), No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (9/1), and No. 6 Michigan State Spartans (12/1) to make the Final Four and contend for the national title in Houston between April 2 and 4, according to Bodog.net.
It may seem strange that the current No. 1 Villanova Wildcats sit all the way back at 16/1 odds, however last year Las Vegas odds makers were dead-on when predicting three of the four finalists correctly (Wisconsin, Duke, and Kentucky).
Division I schools will learn their fate in a matter of weeks with "Selection Sunday" taking place on Sunday, March 13. The NCAA Selection Committee will pick 68 teams to participate in the tournament, then break them up into four groups of 16, and seed them from No. 1 on down.
The four lowest seeded teams, now known as the First Four or seeds No. 65, 66, 67, and 68, face each other first and the winners advance to the first round of the tournament. Those games will take place on March 15 and 16 from UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio
From there the tournament kicks into high gear with the first and second rounds. Beginning March 17 until the 20 television screens across the country will glow with games from noon until night until the field is whittled down to the Sweet 16.
The following weekend, March 24-27, the 16 teams standing will drop down to four and those squads will head to Houston for the last two games of the tournament. The national championship will take place on Monday, April 4.
Here's a complete breakdown of the tournament schedule:
Sunday, March 13.
2016 NCAA Tournament Schedule
March 15 and 16
UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio
First and Second Rounds
March 17 and 19
Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa
PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina
Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island
Pepsi Center in Denver
March 18 and 20
Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York
Spokane Arena in Spokane, Washington
Scottrade Center in St. Louis
Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky (March 24 and 26)
Honda Center in Anaheim, California (March 24 and 26)
United Center in Chicago (March 25 and 27)
Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia (March 25 and 27)
NRG Stadium in Houston (April 2 and 4)