By Erin Irish
March Madness, or the Big Dance, is the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournament, which is held throughout the month of March and the beginning of April every year. It is a single-elimination tournament, which means once a team loses, it is out, and if a team wins, it progresses to the next round. This also means that no matter how low a team is seeded, or ranked, it has the opportunity to make it all the way to the championship. An underdog team or low-ranked team that advances beyond its estimated position is called a “Cinderella team,” referring to the fairy tale of their progression through the tournament. Lower-ranked teams play higher-ranked teams, but a team needs to win only once to progress, which is what makes March Madness so exciting. Every team has the chance to win, no matter what the odds are against them. The teams are divided into four regions: East, South, Midwest, and West. Each team is seeded, or ranked, within its region from one to 16. The “First Four” mark the start of March Madness and are four games between the eight lowest-seeded teams. The victorious teams will advance to the First Round or the Round of 64 (64 teams). The winners of the First Round progress to the Second Round, or the Round of 32 (32 teams). The next round is the regional semifinals, and participating teams are known as the “Sweet Sixteen,” the final 16 teams. The winners advance to the regional finals and are known as the “Elite Eight” teams. They consist of the two best teams in each of the four regions. The winners of this round move on to the national semifinal round and are known as the Final Four. The Final Four teams are the last four teams in the tournament and are the winners of the tournament’s four regional brackets. The two victorious teams out of the Final Four face off in the National Championship.