The hoopla has arrived.
It's time to get down to the mad, fun task of filling out an NCAA basketball bracket, a sports custom so popular it's coined the term "Bracketology."
For some the process of whittling down the field of 68 teams is very much a science, their choices based on matchups, statistics, shooting ability and a wealth of knowledge formed by being true fans of collegiate hoops.
And then there's folks who pick and choose their hopefuls based on personal favorites, mascots, team colors, conferences or geography.
But whatever the strategy, there's no denying the level of fun that comes with March Madness, that hope and possibility of being right, rooting for that big upset, underdog or Cinderella team.
''There isn't a more exciting time to get together and to watch. It brings so many people together, because of the bracket. I just tell people 'How's your bracket?' Everyone is asking 'How's your bracket?' That's when you know it's big. It entertains a lot of people for a few weeks of the year,'' said Wes Ursick, a Pueblo stockbroker who has won some of the biggest local bracket boards in town.
Ursick became a college hoops fan while living in Las Vegas in the early 1990s, when the University of Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels were kings of the hardwood. He travels regularly to watch conference championships and recently returned from the PAC-12 and Mountain West Conference tournaments.
Reluctant to divulge his full bracket strategy, Ursick says the key to success is a combination of homework, watching the season, tournament matchups, knowing the teams and, at times, good, solid guessing.
"If you do your homework, you can find out how the NCAA matches these teams. If you can find out why these teams are matched up statistically, then you can guess," he said.
Don Gray is the owner of Coors Tavern, a bar and restaurant that has long been synonymous with a place to fill out NCAA brackets and join boards.
For years it was the place to join a popular board maintained by local lawyer Charley Trechter and a group of friends.
At its peak that 100percent-pay-out board drew over 700 brackets annually. It has since moved online, but Coors still offers "some pretty interesting boards," Gray said.
"Other than the Super Bowl -- and it's close -- I think March Madness is the biggest sporting event as far as people putting a dollar on a sporting event," Gray said. "I think it's crazy because people don't follow college basketball through the season, but when March rolls around, it's hysteria."
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