The Madness is here.
Sunday marked the culmination of what has been a wild college basketball regular season, as the field of 68 was officially announced.
Now begins the fun part. For many of us, the next four days will consist of tirelessly filling out as many brackets as possible before countless hours of thrilling single-elimination basketball.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know.
- Download the Printable Bracket
- Follow the Latest Bracket Updates Live
- Play the Free Bracket Challenge
Midwest: Toughest Region
Congrats on the undefeated season, Wichita State. Here is your gauntlet.
Who is escaping the Midwest into the Final Four?
Assuming they win their first game, the Shockers will get Kentucky in the third round. John Calipari's team is young but loaded with talent and playing well at the right time. And if they are able to get past that one, then Gregg Marshall's squad could very well see Louisville in the Sweet 16.
That's right, the Cardinals, who just tore through the AAC tournament with three wins by a combined 100 points and could have made a case as a No. 2 seed with how they've played lately, were given a No. 4 seed.
ESPN's Dana O'Neil was one of the many bewildered:
A 4 seed? Louisville? What? Huh? What? Huh?— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) March 16, 2014
Oh, and on the other side of the bracket is No. 2 Michigan, an offensive juggernaut that won the Big Ten regular season by three games, and No. 3 Duke, another explosive team that nearly beat No. 1 seed Virginia.
East: Virginia Gets the Last No. 1
It was assumed for a while that Florida, Arizona and Wichita State were getting three of the four No. 1 seeds. However, there were about five teams discussed for the last top spot over the last week.
In the end, the Wahoos grabbed it for the first time since 1983, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Virginia: 4th time as No. 1 seed, first time since 1983 #NCAATournament— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 16, 2014
Many won't like Virginia because of its slow tempo, but the Cavs are legit.
Tony Bennett's squad won both the ACC regular season and conference titles, and it boasts a physical, cohesive defensive unit that is third in the nation in defensive efficiency, according to Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Offensively, it also has two tremendous weapons in Joe Harris and Malcolm Brogdon, as well as lots of size down low in Akil Mitchell, Mike Tobey and Anthony Gill.
South: Rewriting the History Books?
Some of you may remember 20 years ago when 12th-seeded Tulsa matched up with an over-confident UCLA squad led by Ed O'Bannon in the first round of the 1994 tournament. The Golden Hurricanes proceeded to put up 63 points in the first half, cruising to a now-famous 112-102 victory.
The Bruins, fresh off a Pac-12 tournament victory, will now finally get their chance at tournament revenge with a No. 4 vs. No. 13 matchup, but as ESPN's Myron Medcalf noted, they better be ready for Tulsa this time around:
Tulsa could be a problem for UCLA.— Myron Medcalf (@MedcalfByESPN) March 16, 2014
Also, sitting throughout the bracket are (in order) Florida, Kansas, Syracuse, VCU and Ohio State, all schools who have been to the Final Four in the last seven years.
This bracket is dripping with storied programs.
West: Regular-Season Rematch, Lots of Offense
BYU was biting its nails after falling to Gonzaga in the WCC final, especially after losing Kyle Collinsworth to a torn ACL, but the Cougars coasted into the tournament easily, grabbing a No. 10 seed.
Their reward? A matchup with Oregon, which both began and ended the regular season on long winning streaks.
This one will be fun. Both squads are offensive-minded teams that love to run and are capable of putting up points in a hurry. In fact, they showed exactly that in December when they went to overtime before Oregon escaped Matthew Knight Arena with a thrilling 100-96 victory.
Bleacher Report's C.J. Moore put it simply:
Tune in for Oregon-BYU if you like points.— CJ Moore (@CJMooreBR) March 16, 2014
With Wisconsin, Creighton, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Gonzaga, there is an astounding amount of firepower out West.
No. 1 Arizona's elite, efficient defense is going to be put to the test in a major way.