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It’s finally here! The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament— cause of more “sick” days and scheduled medical procedures than any weekend on the calendar— begins Thursday at noon Eastern.
Of course, the first acts of March Madness were to trim the field, from 68 to 64. The lowest-seeded automatic bids, and the last four at-large teams in the field, squared off Tuesday and Wednesday in the First Four games of the tournament in Dayton.
In case you haven’t filled out your bracket, rest assured that everyone has an opinion. Strategies, players to watch, teams to avoid, and potential Cinderellas can be found in every corner of the internet. So, why not use math to help?
If that wasn’t enough, the women’s tournament begins on Friday as well. Defending champion Notre Dame, two-time runners up Mississippi State, Baylor, and Louisville earned the top seeds. One surprising omission is perennial superpower UConn, a 2-seed below Louisville.
The tournament is already off to an inauspicious start. ESPN accidentally leaked the women’s bracket several hours before their Selection Monday special was to air. This act, of a network shooting themselves in the foot, stands in contrast to an intentional, anonymous leak of the 2016 men’s bracket.