March Madness: Cocktail Chatter

Jeanne Sager
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march madness
Flickr: Photo by Michele Eve

Every week in cocktail chatter, we tell you what you need to know to sound like an expert at this weekend's play date, dinner party or post office meeting.

This week's cheat sheet: March Madness -- aka the NCAA Division 1 basketball championships.

What it is: A meeting of the top 64 teams in college basketball, vying to take home the title of NCAA Division 1 men's college basketball champion. It started on Tuesday with a play-in game. Every year millions of dollars are wagered in Vegas, office pools and even between family members. Which brings us to ...

Terms you need to know:

Bracket: The 64 teams are broken into 4 different regions, with a series of games meant to winnow out the lesser teams as they work toward a final game of just two. Written out on a piece of paper to reflect which teams will face off in the first round, and individuals' expectations for the successive rounds, the result is a bracket shape which is typically filled out before the tournament begins.

Office Pool: Those brackets are filled out in thousands of offices around the country with friendly wagers on who is going to guess the most correct game winners.

Number One Seed: The top regular season teams get the coveted spot as "number one seed" going into the tournament, which means they get to play teams with significantly lower ranks in the early stages of the tournament. This year's number one seeds are Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and Syracuse. President Obama has predicted Kansas will face Kentucky in the national championship, with the Kansas Jayhawks taking the trophy.

Cinderella team: There's always a Cinderella team who comes out of nowhere to sweep a higher seed off its feet in the early days of the tournament. This year is no different with number 13 Murray State knocking off number 4 Vanderbilt.  In the first game of the first full day of the tournament, Old Dominion of the Colonial Athletic Association knocked off the Big East's Notre Dame.

Players to Watch:

  • Cole Aldrich, center, Kansas
  • John Wall, guard, Kentucky
  • Scottie Reynolds, guard, Villanova
  • Kyle Singler, forward, Duke

Phrases to drop:

"I'm with the president on this one -- Kansas for the win."

"Can you believe John Wall is just a freshman? Maybe he can pull a Carmelo and take his team all the way."

"I'm not surprised Old Dominion upset Notre Dame -- they took out Georgetown during the regular season."

"Can you believe Wright benched Scottie Reynolds? He said it was a 'teaching moment.'"

The final game will be played on April 5 on CBS, but you can keep track of the winning teams at the NCAA's website.

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