Your A to Z guide to March Madness


This is the time of the year when everyone can channel their inner Dick Vitale. Just make sure not to startle your co-workers if you start yelling, "Awesome, baby!"

Everyone in the entire country, starting on Selection Sunday when the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed, becomes a college basketball expert. From President Obama to that annoying woman in accounting who lets her corgie make the picks (and still somehow wins the office pool), we're all about to pretend we know more about Cinderella than the prince himself.

So if you're just now beginning to pay attention, here is an A-to-Z primer of what you're going to find in your brackets.

A is for Antonio, which is the real first name for dynamic Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine. He averages 4.9 assists for the Orange, which went 30-1 in the regular season to become one of the favorites this month.

B is for Bourbon Street, which is where a few thousand fans will converge during the Final Four (the games are March 31 and April 2). This is the fifth time New Orleans has hosted the event, and if you believe geography has anything to do with a team's success, you might pick North Carolina (the winners there in 1982 and 1993), Indiana (1987) or Syracuse (2003).

C is for Connecticut, the defending national champions who have had anything but a smooth season wearing the crown. The Huskies underachieved to start the season, then watched their iconic head coach, Jim Calhoun, sidelined with back problems. But now Calhoun is back, and there's no doubting his team has talent. "It's been a different kind of season," he said at the Big East Tournament. "But through it all, somewhat by separation, I realized how much I care about these kids."

D is for Draymond, and if you like watching college basketball to see a player develop, you like Draymond Green. The forward averaged just 3.3 points and 3.3 rebounds as a freshman at Michigan State, but four years later, he was named Big Ten Player of the Year in leading the Spartans to a share of the league title.

E is for emergency room, which is where Seton Hall center Herb Pope was rushed on April 28, 2010, after his heart stopped. His condition was so serious the school prepared a press release to announce his death, but two years later with Pope as the key player up front, the Pirates are potentially one of 10 Big East teams that could make the tournament field.

F is for Frank Haith, the head coach at Missouri. You want a successful first season on the job? Try Haith leading the Tigers to a 27-4 record in the regular season. But now comes the real goal: Getting Missouri, which will be making its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance, into its first Final Four. See where your team stands for March Madness

G is for Gaels, the nickname for West Coast Conference champion St. Mary's. If you're from Down Under (or just enjoy Foster's beer), you'll like the Gaels: They've built their program on a pipeline from Australia that now includes conference player of the year Matthew Dellavedova. As fans chant during their games, "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!"

H is for Harvard, which is getting as much attention for its basketball team these days as its business school. Not only are the Crimson back in the tournament for the first time since the Truman administration (that's 1946), but their former star Jeremy Lin has quickly become a worldwide superstar for his surprising play for the Knicks.

I is for Indiana, back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. If that doesn't seem like a long drought, consider: The Hoosiers were a tournament fixture every year from 1986 to 2003 and have won five titles (1940, 1953, 1976, 1981 and 1987).

J is for Jackrabbits, the unique mascot for first-time tournament participant South Dakota State. The origin is believed to be an early 1900s newspaper article that described the team "as quick as jackrabbits." And they better be, since they're likely headed to a first-round matchup with one of the top programs in the country.

K is for Krzyzewski -- or, if you prefer, Coach K. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has won this tournament four times, more than any coach in the tournament (just one man in the history of college basketball, John Wooden with 10, has more). Do the Blue Devils have what it takes to deliver No. 5? They'll have to count on emerging freshman star Austin Rivers if they do.

L is for Loyola (Maryland), where the colorful Jimmy Patsos is the head coach. When Patsos was a graduate assistant at Maryland, he worked a side job as a bartender in the Georgetown section of D.C. -- and his reputation for courtside theatrics means the TV cameras will spend plenty of time watching him during the Greyhounds' first-round game.

M is for Murray State, which is the best team most casual college fans have never heard of. Only a four-point loss to Tennessee State kept the Racers from rural Murray, Kentucky, from entering the tournament at a perfect 31-0, and with junior guard Isaiah Canaan (19.2 points per game), there's no telling how far they'll go this month.

N is for Northwestern, and that'll be one of the biggest questions heading into Selection Sunday: Will the Wildcats finally earn their first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament? "The stats are out there," is all head coach Bill Carmody would say when asked if his team belonged this week, so don't expect much lobbying from Chicago.

O is for office pools, on which the FBI estimates more than $2.5 billion is gambled each year. That's a lot of people who think they know which No. 12 seed is going to advance to the Sweet 16.

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