Let the madness begin.
It's the time of year when words like bracketology, Cinderellas and 'one-and-done' become part of the vernacular
The NCAA Men's Basketball Championship unifies this country like few other events save for the Super Bowl and Thanksgiving.
Brackets are being filled out by fans across the country from President Barack Obama (he's picking Tom Crean's Indiana Hoosiers) to hot dog vendors on New York's streets.
Experts have dubbed this year as being one of the most wide open in recent memory.
The Number One slot in the polls changed more often than Kim Kardashian's boyfriends.
Marquette is first up on Thursday afternoon when the #3 seed goes up against 26-7 Davidson in the 14 slot in Lexington, Kentucky. Tip-off is at 2:10 p.m. CDT.
For Buzz Williams' bunch to have success -- make the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight or Final Four -- they will have to have stand-up performances by their big men.
Having Davante Gardner and Chris Otule spend more time on their feet rather than on the bench in foul trouble will be huge.
When the front court duo hit the offensive glass hard, Marquette has its best games.
The first-game loss to Notre Dame in the Big East Tournament bore that out.
Marquette should be well-rested as a result of the early exit.
Super senior Junior Cadougan, Vander Blue, Trent Lockett, Jamil Wilson all need to bring their A-game to advance past the pesky Wildcats.
MU's early departure is in stark contrast to Davidson's 17-game winning streak, the longest in the NCAA this season.
All five starters are back for the Wildcats and their stock-in-trade is feasting from three-point range.
On Friday, it's Bo Ryan's Badgers' turn as the #5 seed takes on surprise SEC Champion Mississippi.
Ole Miss (26-8) can put up a ton of points and this will be a test for the defensive mindset that is the Badgers trademark.
This game will tip at 11:40 a.m. CDT at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
Wisconsin is battle tested having gone all the way to the Big Ten Conference final before succumbing to Ohio State.
Jared Berggren, Mike Bruesewitz, Sam Dekker and their mates survived buzzer beaters and a few overtimes down the stretch during the season.
That was a good primer for a tourney that is known for its close games and last-second fireworks.
Time management, free throws and match-ups will all be determining factors as this plays out.
Both Wisconsin and Marquette should make it to the Sweet Sixteen.
After that, it comes down to grit and the fundamentals. The cooler heads usually prevail.