What nonsports fans should know about brackets and Selection Sunday

Sunday, March 17, 2013 | 3:58 p.m. CDT; updated 6:14 p.m. CDT, Sunday, March 17, 2013

COLUMBIA — This week marks the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which is known to induce a spirited “madness” in basketball fans but can also make those who aren't such fans go mad themselves.

With the the announcement of who's in and who's out of the tournament on Sunday night, you'll likely find yourself in a conversation about March Madness this week.


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So even if you don't follow college basketball, the Missourian has you covered with a short nonsports-fan's guide to make tournament small talk.

Try integrating these words into the conversation:

"Bracketology" is the "science" of predicting what teams will be invited and how they'll be ranked in the NCAA basketball tournaments. Some sports pundits even call themselves "bracketologists" and make predictions on what teams will make the tournament.

Selection Sunday is the name given to the Sunday every March when the NCAA tournament selection committee announces which 68 teams make the cut, where they will play and how they will be seeded (see the definition of seeding below).

The bubble is the dividing line between the teams that do and don’t make the cut to play in the tournament. Bracketologists often talk about the eight or so teams they predict are in danger of missing the tournament as teams that are "on the bubble."

Seeding is the process in which each team is given a numerical rank, or seed, that determines where the team is placed in the tournament bracket and what other teams they will play. Higher seeded teams will be matched against lower seeded teams for the first rounds of the tournament.

Name drop and quote these bracketologists to your friends and coworkers:

Joe Lunardi: @ESPNLunardi

Jordan Schwartz: @JordanHarrison

Brad Evans: @YahooNoise

Shawn Siegel: @CollegeHoopsNet

Gary Parrish: @GaryParrishCBS

Greg Anthony: @GregAnthony50

Get the conversation started with these talking points:

Although the Southeastern Conference dominated college football in the fall, only a handful of SEC basketball teams have a shot at making this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament. Ole Miss qualified automatically by winning the SEC Tournament on Sunday. Missouri and Florida will almost certainly be invited, but Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky will watch the selection show anxiously to find out their fate.

With Missouri's move to the SEC, the Tigers no longer play Kansas during the regular season, but depending how the selection committee seeds the teams, there is a chance for a postseason Border War in the tournament's later rounds.

Although the Tigers will likely be seeded in the middle of the pack, the team will be making the tournament for the fifth consecutive year. Missouri did not make the tournament from 2004 to 2008.

Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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