5 Things to Know About March Madness So You Don't Look Like a Complete Lummox

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Ah, memories.
Just admit it: You won't have a clue about how to talk about the 2012 NCAA tournament, much less how to fill out the bracket once the teams are selected on March 11.

That's what we're here for.

As March Madness heads toward its March 15 start date (no need to watch the games on March 13 and 14; see item number five for clarification), here are five things you need to know to sound like you sort of know about the annual college basketball party.

5. Field of 68
It was 64, then 65 and now for the second consecutive year, 68. (The progression goes like this: First Four, Second Round, Third Round, Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final Four, National Championship.) The First Four pairs the lowest four at-large qualifying teams and the lowest four conference champions for a pathway to the NCAA tourney; it's kind of like watching the National Invitational Tournament or a UH basketball game.

4. Last Year's Championship-Game Teams, Connecticut and Butler, Are Played Out
Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun has been plagued with a debilitating spinal condition (he's scheduled to go under the knife on Monday), and the defending champion Huskies have struggled without their leader. At 17-10, UConn is battling for their postseason lives under associate head coach George Blaney. Meanwhile, Butler, national runner-ups in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011, were bound to have a down season. Unless the 18-12 Bulldogs play lights out and/or win the Horizon League Tournament, they'll be spending March in the NIT.

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