March Madness: Must-Know Vocab

March Madness: Must-Know Vocab


Cinderella team? Sweet Sixteen? A lot of the lingo sounds suspiciously girlie, but don’t be fooled: It’s all college b’ball double talk. And, since every office pool in existence will be obsessed with this event clear through April Fool’s Day, here’s what you need to know to talk tournie with the best.

March Madness (aka, the Big Dance): Men’s and women’s college basketball finals, during which 65 teams qualify for a tournament played during March and April. The national semifinals (see: Final Four) has become one of the most prominent sporting events in the U.S.

H.V. Porter: Arguably the first to use the term March Madness to refer to basketball. Porter was an official with the Illinois High School Association (and a later basketball hall of famer) who coined it in an essay of the same name, which he penned in 1939.

Brent Musburger: CBS commentator regarded as the first to have used the term March Madness to refer to the college tournament specifically, during the CBS coverage in 1982.

Cinderella Team: An underdog team which advances further in the tournament than anyone expected. No fairy godmother involved, that we know of.

The Brackets: procedure used to track teams’ progression through the tournament.

(You can fill out your own here:

Sweet Sixteen: the regional semi-finals, to which sixteen teams advance.

Elite Eight: The finals, played on the second weekend of the tournament, with, you guessed it, eight teams still in the running.

Final Four: Four teams. The national semi-finals. See also: A good excuse to throw a March Madness party (scroll down for Tango’s how-to guide.)

Office Pool: Where your significant other is likely to drop more cash betting than you did on your last pair of shoes.

“Boss” Button: A feature rumored to exist on’s 2007 March Madness On Demand site, so workers who spend their days playing the brackets can click it, causing a fake spreadsheet to pop up, and the sound to go down, should a supervisor approach.