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8 Things to Know About 2014 March Madness

03/15/2014 12:42 EDT | Updated 05/15/2014 05:59 EDT

8 Things to know about the 2014 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament

One of basketball's biggest months is upon us, and we're not talking about the NBA, but the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament, or March Madness. Even if you haven't watched basketball in the past, this event is the place to start with Division I basketball teams from all over the United States gathering to compete in a single-elimination style tournament where anything can happen. With tip off right around the corner, it's time to pick your favourite team. We've got eight things for you to know before tuning into the NCAA March Madness, starting on March 18.

1. Growing competition

The NCAA Division I Men's tournament is expecting 68 teams to compete in this year's March Madness. This number has grown exponentially since the inaugural event 75 years ago. With only six teams participating back then, the turnout for this tournament continues to grow, upping the stakes and the excitement that comes with it.

2. Who is the top contender?

Many are saying that this year, more than ever, it is tough to call a top contender due to close standings leading up to the tournament. However, No. 1 seeds will always have a good chance at making it to the Final Four since their schedule favours their success. Seeding is a method used in the tournament to rank which team is the best. Since seeding was introduced in the NCAA tournament, at least one No. 1 seed has made it to Final Four every year except for three. Despite speculation, we are going with this year's top contender as Syracuse.

3. Dark Horses

Dark Horses, or Cinderella Stories, are huge in the NCAA tournament. Dark Horses are teams who are seeded low and aren't expected to do well, but come into the tournament and they take everyone by surprise by winning it all. The Cinderella Stories are always a crowd favourite as fans everywhere enjoy cheering for the underdog in this single-elimination style tournament. And since only one game decides the fate of every team, anything can happen. Although it's hard to call a tournament Dark Horse, the Gal's Got Game suggests you keep an eye out for the Arkansas Razorbacks who have surprised fans this year and played up to the big wigs all season.

4. Locations

Locations for the NCAA March Madness tournament are decided based on a bidding process. This year, the bidding process was as competitive as ever. Most cities in the U.S. want to host because the host cities make huge money and also get a lot of media attention. With the locations already set, 25 preliminary round sites were chosen where the round robin, or first rounds, of the tournament will be played. One of these sites includes Madison Square Garden. The tournament will have an opening ceremony at the University of Dayton Arena, which is tradition each year. The big decisions, however, lay in where the tournament will end. This year the big location where the final four, and then the final two, teams will face off is Arlington, Texas at the AT&T Stadium.

5. Selection Sunday

Selection Sunday occurs on March 16th, two days before the start of the tournament. This day is a huge event to watch because we find out which teams will make the tournament, their seedings, and their matchups in the single-game knockout bracket. After Selection Sunday, people will start making their bets on which teams they think will go far.

6. Sweet 16

The Sweet 16 refers to the Top 16 teams that advance in the NCAA tournament. Lots of sports bets will be made on the NCAA tournament, with people guessing who will make the Sweet 16. The Sweet 16 play in the regional semifinal round of the tournament.

7. Final Four

The Final Four refers to the last four teams left in the race for the NCAA March Madness Championship. Once teams make it to the Final Four, the stakes get raised because they are all the champions of their regional brackets. The Final Four will meet in Arlington, Texas this year where they will battle it out for the final championship title.

8. The Big Dance

Many people also commonly refer to the NCAA Division I Men's basketball tournament, or March Madness, as the Big Dance. With Cinderella teams, formal invitations as entrance tickets, and the effortless cross-court movements that come with the sport of basketball - the Big Dance nickname stuck instantly and naturally with the tournament.

So, with the NCAA Division I Men's tournament right around the corner, it's time to get mad for March and pick which team you will root for this year! Getting in on the action is a great way to connect with your co-workers, so try and get yourself into a March Madness pool! Be sure to follow The Gal's Got Game during March Madness for more tips and updates from the Big Dance court.

To learn more, sign up for our free daily Cheat Sheet at http://www.thegalsgotgame.com.

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