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March Madness: A terminology guide

Impress all your colleagues at the office water cooler with your newfound March Madness terminology.

March Madness is here which means friends, family and colleagues are urging you to put together bracket after bracket whether or not you know what you're talking about.

Instead of relying on your NCAA-savvy friends to get you through another year, educate yourself on the specifics of the tournament with this helpful term sheet.

The following terms were provided and defined by the NCAA’s website.

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Selection Committee – The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee is comprised of 10 members and is responsible for how the entire tournament is organized. They choose the participating teams, their seeds and put the field into a bracket based on those seeds.

Automatic bid – Teams receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament when they win their conference tournament at the end of the regular season. There are 32 conferences in Division I, which means 32 teams will get an automatic bid.

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At-large bid – The other 36 teams in the tournament receive an at-large bid, which is an invitation to the tournament from the Selection Committee. These are usually teams who, even though they didn’t win their conference tournaments, impressed the committee enough to participate.

Regionals – The NCAA tournament bracket is split into four regionals: South, East, West and Midwest. Teams are assigned a regional based on how they look compared to other teams, their overall seed, their geographic proximity to that region and other factors.

Seed – There are 68 teams which earn bids to the tournament and each one receives a seed (1-16) that determines where the team will be placed in each regional. There’s also an overall seed from 1-64, which affects the order in which the team locations are selected. The higher-ranked teams get preference. The four lowest-seeded at-large teams and the four lowest-seeded automatic qualifiers go to the "First Four."

The bubble – This means that the team’s qualification is on the fence. It could be on the verge of making the tournament, but an invitation from the Selection Committee isn’t guaranteed.

First Four (March 19-20) – Four games that are played on the Tuesday and Wednesday after Selection Sunday (March 17). Those games will determine which four teams advance to the first round of the tournament.

Sweet Sixteen (March 28-29) – The third round of the tournament in which only 16 teams remain. The winner of each game will move on to the “Elite 8.”

Elite 8 (March 30-31) – The fourth round of the tournament in which only eight teams remain. It’s also known as the regional championships. The winners of those games will move to the national semifinals, better known as the “Final Four.”

Final Four (April 6) – The fifth round of the tournament in which only four teams remain. It’s the penultimate round of the tournament in which the winners of each game move on to the championship game.