HOT TOPIC: March Madness
Volume 1, Issue 23 - February 27, 2005

"With the end of February comes the promise of Spring and with it, March Madness! Considered by many to be the premier sporting event of the year, March Madness is the phrase coined to refer to the NCAA basketball tournaments that occur every March. Sixty-five teams are invited at the Division I level, and being recognized from hundreds of programs around the nation as being one of the very best is a great honor.

The true excitement of this event is that once the tournament begins, there are no guarantees as to who will win any one of the matchups throughout the tournament. Upsets make it exciting, and a lesser-ranked team that builds a winning streak can be the Cinderella story for the entire three weeks of the tournament. There is a process of ranking all the invited teams and placing them in one of four regional brackets in an attempt to create interesting matchups and balanced regions. This has become known to sports fans who follow the action closely as bracketology.

Fortunately for us in the classroom, ranking and sorting teams into brackets which play themselves out with the outcome of each game provides great data for statistical analysis, patterns and predictions, probability and graphing, not to mention the applications that span all subject areas across the curriculum. March Madness is a fabulous real-time event which can bring your classroom alive in the gray days of late Winter!

The key is to focus on the tournament (also known as “the big dance”) in academic terms: the geography of the participating universities, the scoring averages of the teams, the science behind shooting a basketball, the stories covered in various news media. Start by creating a large wall display of the tournament brackets and then use your local newspapers and the Web to follow the progress of each team as they make their way to the sweet sixteen, the elite eight, and ultimately to the final four.

This week’s issue of the Digital Dozen offers you twelve great resources on the NCAA basketball tournament, focusing in on Division I of the men and women. However, you can apply these materials at any division, based on your location and alma mater. Have fun getting caught up in the fun and learning with your students! ....."


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