As Selection Sunday slowly creeps up so does the 2016 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, better known as March Madness. The NCAA’s selection committee will announce its picks for this year’s tournament on Sunday, totaling 68 teams from around the country all vying for a shot at the championship.
Of those 68 tournament spots, 31 of the teams will earn a place by winning their conference’s tournament while this year’s regular-season Ivy League champion gets the final automatic berth.
That leaves 36 at-large bids up for grabs between dozens of teams hoping to either claim the national title or play the role of this year’s Cinderella.
The tournament’s first games will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, as teams known as the First Four angle for spots in the first round, which will then take place on March 17 and 18.
From there the tournament will dominate each of the next three weekends until the entire 68-team field has been whittled down to the Final Four. This year's semifinals take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, with two games on Saturday, April 2 and the national championship held on April 4.
The team’s favored to reach the Final Four include the Michigan State Spartans(13/2 odds), the North Carolina Tar Heels (8/1), the Kansas Jayhawks (17/2), and the Kentucky Wildcats (11/1), according to the latest odds from VegasInsider.com.
Michigan State, under head coach Tom Izzo, have a consistent and talented roster, while John Calipari's Wildcats are hoping to post back-to-back Final Four appearances. Last year each side fell in the Final Four.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks, under head coach Bill Self, are trying to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2012, and the Tar Heels haven’t reached the tournament’s final two rounds since 2009, the same year they won the title.
Each of the four favored teams are hoping to land one of the tournament’s top four seeds. The 68 teams are broken up into four regions, East, South, West, and Midwest, and each region has seeds running from No. 1 to No. 16.
And while odds makers have their own inclinations, the Jayhawks, Spartans, Tar Heels, and Wildcats aren’t the only squads hoping to land the highest possible seeds.
The Oklahoma Sooners are right behind Kentucky at 11/1 odds to win it all, while Xavier sits at 12/1, and Villanova and Virginia each listed at 14/1. Defending champion Duke is next up at 18/1 odds, though the Blue Devils aren’t expected to repeat this season.