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What Is March Madness? | Wonderopolis

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Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Justin. Justin Wonders, “What is March Madness?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Justin!

Are you a sports fan? Whether you enjoy football, baseball, soccer, or one of the many other sports around the world, there are many chances each week to sit back and enjoy a game or two on television.

If you're a fan of basketball, in particular, there's a time of year that's extra special. It's that time when everywhere you turn, sports fanatics are talking about bubble teams, brackets, and buzzer beaters. What are we talking about? March Madness, of course!

March Madness refers to that time of year (usually mid-March through the beginning of April) when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's and women's college basketball tournaments are held.

Why is it madness? That term somehow captures the excitement that swirls around the sports world as tournament time approaches. In the weeks leading up to the "Big Dance," as it is called, hundreds of college basketball teams from all over the United States fight to earn a spot in the tournament.

The NCAA college basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament that features 68 teams vying to survive three weekends of games to be crowned the national champions. The field used to be 64 teams, but the NCAA has recently added four more teams that play "play in" games to earn a spot in the final field of 64.

Only 16 teams (the "Sweet Sixteen") make it past the first weekend. The second weekend narrows the field first to the "Elite Eight" and then the "Final Four. The final weekend focuses on the four semifinalists. The two semifinal victors move on to play in the national championship game.

Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen is usually credited with developing the idea for the tournament in 1939 with the help of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

The 68 teams in the tournament include 32 teams that receive automatic bids for winning their respective conferences. The remaining 36 teams are given at-large bids by the NCAA selection committee based upon their performance during the season.

Once the field is set, the teams are divided into four regions (usually spread geographically through the eastern, western, midwestern, and southern U.S.) and placed into a bracket that lays out the path a team must take to reach the finals. Each team is seeded or ranked within its region, from 1 to 16.

Higher-seeded teams generally play lower-seeded teams in the beginning. For example, in the first round, each team seeded #1 plays the team seeded #16. This trend continues until upsets begin to occur, at which time brackets can become hard to predict as unexpectedly-good teams (often called "Cinderella" teams) make a run in the tournament.

At tournament time each year, millions of people fill out their own brackets, attempting to predict the winners of all the games. There are usually enough upsets, however, that it's nearly impossible to predict a perfect bracket. In fact, your chances of correctly guessing the winner of every game is less than 1 in 9.2 quintillion (or more precisely, 9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!

As multiple games are played simultaneously at neutral sites all over the country, millions of sports fans follow the games on television over the course of the three-week tournament. To date, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) holds the record for the most national titles with 11.

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We hope you thought today's Wonder of the Day was a slam dunk! Be sure to explore the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Are you ready to participate in March Madness? The first thing you'll need to do is fill out your very own bracket with your picks for the NCAA basketball tournament. You can find brackets in local newspapers, as well as printable brackets online each year. (Click here to access 2016's.) Ask a friend or family member to help you print and fill out a bracket. Then watch the games to see who wins!
  • If you're really into March Madness, plan and host a Final Four party! You'll need a television to watch the games, as well as some tasty and healthy snacks. You might also want to plan some fun games you can play as a group at halftime and between games. Make sure you get permission and help from an adult friend or family member. Have fun!
  • Want to learn more about the origins of March Madness? Jump online to read through History's March Madness Is Born article. Do you think the people back in 1939 had any idea what a spectacle their creation would become? Why or why not?

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March Madness | The TwinSpires Edge


college basketball

Since 1939, the men’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament, or March Madness, has been held annually at the end of college basketball’s regular season. The single-elimination tournament is one of the most watched sporting events in the United States and generates a ton of betting action across the country.

Below you will find all the stats and info you need to gear up for college basketball’s highly anticipated postseason competition.  

Gonzaga Bulldogs


Kentucky Wildcats


Arizona Wildcats


Auburn Tigers


Purdue Boilermakers


Baylor Bears


Duke Blue Devils


Kansas Jayhawks


UCLA Bruins


Illinois Fighting Illini


When is the 2022 NCAA tournament?

March Madness will begin on Tuesday, March 15 at 4 p.m. ET, with the First Four—or play-in—stage of competition. The official first round, featuring 64 teams, will take place Thursday and Friday, March 17-18, before the round of 32 on Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20.

The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 occur the following weekend, March 24 through March 27. Caesars Superdome in New Orleans will host the Final Four, which includes the national semifinal championship game on the evening of Monday, April 4.

First Four

March 15-16

First Round

March 17-18

Second Round

March 19-20

Sweet 16

March 24-25

Elite Eight

March 26-27

Final Four

April 2

National Championship Game

April 4

Who can make the NCAA tournament?

In order to qualify for March Madness, a Division I college basketball team must either win its conference tournament or receive an “at-large” bid from the NCAA tournament selection committee.

A total of 68 teams play in the tournament, with 32 of those teams earning an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament. The 36 remaining tournament bids are granted by the selection committee and are revealed on Selection Sunday.

The committee is also in charge of seeding and placing each team in one of four regions of the tournament bracket: the East, West, Midwest and South. Each region will be seeded 1-16.

The selection committee is currently comprised of eight athletic directors and two conference commissioners in Division I men’s and women’s athletics. Members serve a five-year term.

Duncan Robinson (22) of the Michigan Wolverines cuts down the net to celebrate the victory during the NCAA Division I Men's Championship Elite Eight round basketball game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)

How can I watch the NCAA tournament?

truTV and TBS will air the First Four, then split first- and second-round coverage with CBS, TBS, and TNT.  

TBS and CBS will televise the Sweet 16 and Elite, while the Final Four and NCAA National Championship Game can be found exclusively on CBS.

How long are March Madness games?

March Madness will follow the standard rules of a regular-season college basketball game, with two 20-minute halves. The overtime period is five minutes long and may be repeated as many times as necessary to determine a winner.

What is the Final Four?

The Elite Eight will decide the champion of each of the four regions in the NCAA tournament. The winner from the East, West, Midwest and South move on to the Final Four to play in the national semifinal games. 

The Final Four includes both the semifinal round and the championship game on Monday, April 5.

Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Where is the Final Four?

Caesars Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints, will host the Final Four from April 2-4.

What time is the national championship game?

Tipoff of the national championship game is scheduled for 9 p. m. ET Eastern on Monday, April 4.





North Carolina


















Michigan State


From 1964 to 1995, the UCLA Bruins accumulated 11 national championship titles, 10 of those under head coach John Wooden.

The University of Kentucky, a longtime elite program in college basketball, earned its first championship in 1948 and most recent in 2012. ACC schools North Carolina and Duke are neck-and-neck for titles, with six and five, respectively, and have each won one in the last five years.

The Indiana Hoosiers also rank high with five championships, but the school hasn't experienced the NCAA's ultimate glory since 1987, with head coach Bob Knight.

The University of Louisville hung championship banners in 1980 and 1986 with head coach Denny Crum, and again in 2013 with Rick Pitino. However, because of NCAA violations, the school had to vacate its 2013 championship and two Final Four appearances. Louisville is the only school in NCAA history to have a men's basketball championship vacated.

John Wooden


Mike Krzyzewski (active)


Adolph Rupp


Roy Williams (active)


Jim Calhoun


Bob Knight


Jay Wright (active)


Denny Crum


Billy Donovan


UCLA head coach John Wooden's record of 10 national championships may never be touched, but "Coach K" (Mike Krzyzewski) is hot on his track, with five. The Duke basketball coach's teams regularly rank in the AP Top 25 poll and are often considered one of the favorites in the NCAA tournament each year.

A statue of former Purdue Boilermaker player John Wooden is seen outside of Mackey Arena. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp led the school to the Promised Land four times (1948, 1949, 1951 and 1958) during his tenure. There is a three-way tie for fourth-most wins, as UConn's Jim Calhoun, Indiana's Bob Knight, and Roy Williams each own three titles. Williams collected his trio of banners with North Carolina in 2005, 2009 and 2017. He also guided the Kansas Jayhawks to a national title game, where they fell to Syracuse in 2003.







Big Ten


Big 12


American Athletic


Big East


Based on current conference membership, the ACC owns the most NCAA titles. North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State, Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia have each claimed at least one national championship. The Cavaliers most recently won the tournament in 2019.

The Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12 triumphed in the first national championship game in 1939. Since then, the Pac-12 has earned 16 titles among Stanford, Utah, Cal, UCLA and Arizona. UCLA won seven in a row from 1967-1973, then again in 1975, the last season Wooden coached for the Bruins. Wooden also achieved back-to-back titles in 1964 and 1965.

When is Selection Sunday?

Selection Sunday will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 6 p.m. ET,  and will air on CBS.

How does seeding work?

The selection committee will offer 36 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in addition to 32 automatic bids for those teams that won their conference tournament. 

The committee will look at record, strength of schedule and quality of wins and losses, among other factors, to rank the field of teams from 1 to 68. Theoretically, the top four teams will earn the No. 1 seeds, and the next four on the list will receive the No. 2 seeds, and so on.

The committee strives for balance in each of the East, West, Midwest and South regions. The overall No. 1 seed should play the weakest No. 2 seed, and that pattern should follow down the line from the No. 3 seeds to No. 16 seeds for each region. 

What is the First Four?  

In 2011, the NCAA expanded the men's tournament to 68 teams and added a "First Four" play-in stage that included eight teams. Those eight teams hold the four lowest-seeded automatic bids and four lowest-seeded at-large bids.

The four winners of the First Four games move on to the field of 64 to compete in the first round of the tournament.

From 1985 to 2001, the NCAA tournament followed a 64-team format, until the Mountain West Conference joined Division I. To accomodate an additional automatic bid, which bumped the field to 65, the NCAA created one play-in game before the opening round. Since the arrival of the First Four in 2011, the tournament has maintained the same 68-team format.

The University of Dayton Arena in Ohio is the annual host site of the First Four games.

How many rounds are in the NCAA tournament?

There are six rounds of the NCAA tournament, not including the First Four play-in round.

Sixty-four teams participate in the first round. From there, the field is narrowed down to 32 for the second round of competition.

The third round is referred to as the Sweet 16, or regional semifinal, and the fourth round is best known as the Elite Eight or regional final. 

The fifth round, or national semifinal, is part of the Final Four, as is the sixth round, the national championship game.

Where can I download a March Madness bracket?

You can fill our our official TwinSpires Sports downloadable March Madness bracket by clicking here.

It's been estimated that around 70 million brackets are filled out each year across the country for company or family pools and nationwide contests.

The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are about 1 in 120.6 billion—if you know something about basketball. If you filled out your bracket by flipping a coin or blindly guessing, your odds are much higher.

No one has filled out a perfect bracket—that we know of—in the history of the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Final Four Betting Trends

20 of the last 21 Final Four Champions Have Been East Coast Teams

The only team that could be considered following in this trend for this year’s Final Four is Virginia. With a state that does touch the East Coast, does the basketball world truly count Virginia as an East Coast team? Michigan State is from the Midwest, while Auburn is from the South and Texas Tech is a Southwest team, thus they would not come as close to fitting the mold. If the Cavaliers fit the narrative of East Coast, then the trend could very well continue to prove true.

Favorites Usually Dominate in Final Four Semifinals

If this trend holds, Michigan State will beat Texas Tech and Virginia will beat Auburn. I’ve got Texas Tech upsetting MSU and Auburn upsetting UVA. So, I’ve thrown out this trend!

Underdogs Have Performed Well in the Finals

UNC won as a favorite in 2017. Last year, Villanova won as the favorite. But, before those two chalked it up, Nova beat North Carolina as a dog in 2016, Duke upset Wisconsin as a slight dog in 2015, and Connecticut upset Kentucky as a major underdog in 2014.

Will any of the three trends listed above hold? Or, will Auburn and Texas Tech prove best? Get your popcorn ready and watch one of the greatest sports events in the U.S., the annual NCAA College Basketball Final Four!

NCAA Final Four Notable Games

1975 National Championship – UCLA 92, Kentucky 85

The great John Wooden won his final championship. It was the Wizard of Westwood’s 10th title.

1979 National Championship – Michigan State 75, Indiana State 64

Magic and Bird started one of the most important rivalries in NBA history while still in college.

1983 National Championship – NC State 54, Houston 52

NC State upset Phi Slamma Jamma with a last-second shot, handing Jimmy Valvano the NCAA Final Four trophy. Valvano would end up starting the Jimmy V. Foundation, one of the most important cancer research non-profit organizations in the world.

1985 National Championship – Villanova 66, Georgetown 64

Villanova beats Georgetown in one of the biggest upsets in Final Four history.

1991 National Championship – Duke 72, Kansas 65

Coach Mike Krzyzewski wins his first of five national championships by beating Roy Williams- coached Kansas. The Blue Devils upset heavily favored UNLV in the semifinals. Today, Williams coaches North Carolina, which means Coach K and Williams have continued the rivalry that started in 1991.

2022 College Basketball Championship Regions and Dates

  • Regions: South, East, West, Midwest
  • Inaugural Game: March 17, 1939
  • Current Number of Teams Participating: 68
  • 2022 NCAA National Championship Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 2022 NCAA National Championship Date: Monday, April 4, 2022

This season, 8 Russians play in the NCAA.

How are they? - The Interception - Blogs

Editor's Note: You are reading the user blog Interception, which talks about European basketball. Don't forget that pluses are still the best way to thank the author.

Before the start of last season, I wrote this text. Then I talked to almost all the Russians who were preparing to compete in the NCAA - there were 11 of them at that time - and tried to understand why Russian youth began to leave more massively for American universities. There have never been such a number of Russians in the NCAA.

A year and a half has passed since then, and half of the guys have parted ways: Konstantin Dotsenko is now playing in the Loko farm club, Zakhar Vedischev plays at the base of Krasnodar, Mark Tikhonenko signed a contract with Astana, Andre Toure recently played in Maykop in the second Super League, and Samson Ruzhentsev moved to the Serbian "Mega".

But some remained in America. They were joined by a few more guys who either just left Russia or got into the NCAA from American schools or the NJCAA. In this text, I will talk about all the Russians who play in the first division of the main student league in the world. If last season I wanted to explain why exactly they are leaving, now I have focused on their career.

If you prefer reading, then below is a large text with comments from the players themselves; but this time you have the opportunity not only to read, but also to watch a video about all of our in the NCAA. Inside is my story and a video interview with the guys.

If you watch a YouTube video, don't forget to thumbs up and leave a comment. This will help promote the channel. Subscribe if you love Russian basketball and want to know more about it.

And now - the promised text about our guys in America.

What is the NCAA

The NCAA, or NCDA, is the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the United States and Canada. It includes almost 1300 schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions. The teams of these universities are represented not only in basketball - the NCAA also has competitions in American football, wrestling, fencing, bowling, softball, gymnastics, tennis and God knows what else.

But basketball is a very popular sport in the association. Both guys and girls have three divisions, which are ranked by strength. This text is only about those Russians who compete in the first, strongest, division.

The NCAA has a playoff called March Madness. When knockout games start, the whole country switches from professionals to students. Although during the season, the teams also have enough attention from fans: the clubs play in large and good arenas, many people come to the matches, the games are shown on television, and sometimes on national television. There are even universities whose fans spend the night in front of the arena in the hope of having time to buy a ticket.

So the NCAA is a really serious tournament, albeit a student one.

How many Russians are there

I spent an hour and a half of my life checking the composition of all the colleges that are represented in the first division. There are 358 of them. I broke my eyes, learned about the existence of several countries and even about the presence of basketball in these countries, but still I counted all the Russians.

I got eight people, and now we will get to know them better. The sequence on my list doesn't mean anything, it's just that way because I talked to the guys in that order.

I hope I haven't missed anyone. Please write in the comments if you know someone whom I have overlooked.

Nikita Evdokimov, Charleston Cougars

2021/22 stats: 2 games, 10.5 minutes avg. .5 assists, 1 turnover

Evdokimov is the newest member of the NCAA Division I. He joined the Charleston Cougars - the name of the team of the University of Charleston from South Carolina - in early December last year.

This university belongs to mid-major. In the American system, there is a gradation of universities by strength - from low-major to high-major. Mid-major is the middle level. Most Russian guys perform at universities that fall into this category.

Before moving to the USA, Nikita played for the youth team of Lokomotiv-Kuban and for the national team. Last summer, the defender represented the Russian under-20 team at the Euro Challenger, although he himself was only 18.

Evdokimov has an interesting story about how he fell in love with basketball. In fact, it is strange that he did not go to handball, because his dad is the famous Russian handball player Yegor Evdokimov. Six-time champion of Russia, champion of Spain, champion of Belarus, champion of Ukraine, participant of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. At the dawn of his career, Yegor Viktorovich played in his homeland, in the Chelyabinsk region, the city of Snezhinsk. Nikita was born there.

- I fell in love with basketball when I was 9 or 10 years old. My cousin and grandmother and I went on vacation to the Crimea. There was a playground where I constantly ran and played. Grandma suggested trying to sign up for basketball. And before that, I didn’t consider basketball as a sport at all ... But I went to a training session and instantly fell in love. Didn't miss it at all. Then Lokomotiv saw me at the Russian Championship. Together with a team from my city, from Chekhov, we took fourth place, and everyone was very surprised. I was seen by coach Petar Marinkovic, who called me to Loko, ”recalls Evdokimov.

He says that he could have been in the red-green system even earlier. He was invited to the Yug-Basket camp - this is a camp organized by the club and within which it looks for players in its youth system - but then Evdokimov was with relatives in the United States and could not come.

He ended up in the Loko system in 2017. True, Evdokimov says that, even while playing for Krasnodar, he often thought that he actually wanted to try his hand at American basketball. He has relatives living in the USA, he has been there more than once, and when the chance to move to the university appeared, he did not hesitate for a long time.

Evdokimov learned about the university's interest in him in advance, so he spent the summer with benefit: he trained individually with personal trainers in Moscow and Cyprus, where his father plays handball. There, the defender, at the request of the university coach, worked hard on three-pointers and performed at least 500 long-range shots a day.

Evdokimov will be coached at the College of Charleston by Pat Kelsey, a strong specialist who is widely known in college basketball. He once worked with Jeff Teague and Chris Paul.

Alex Kotov, Illinois State Redbirds

2021/22 stats: 12 games, 8 minutes avg. .9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.2 steals, 0.8 losses

Alex is not short for Alexander, but his passport name. He was not born in Russia, but in Canada, his parents went there to give birth to Alex. In this country, he lived the first year of his life, after which he left for Moscow. In memory of Canada, Alex has citizenship (he has a double one).

But he started playing basketball in Russia.

— I started playing basketball at Gloria when I was 10-11 years old. People came to my school - and I studied at an ordinary secondary school - who were looking for young guys who were ready to play basketball. They came into my class, saw that I was tall, did a couple of tests, asked me different questions and invited me to practice. I studied at Gloria for a long time, then I got into the MBA Junior Junior League, from there I was taken to the Super League. I played there for literally a year, and after graduating from high school I decided that it would be wise to go to the United States. I contacted Skryagin (Alexander Skryagin, ProFuturo Sports, - note "Interception"), because he was the only person who knows more about moving to the USA than me. We talked to him, I dropped my highlights to him, and he helped me find a school, - says Kotov.

Alex arrived in the US in 2017 and entered the Montverde Academy. This is a very famous program that prepares players for the NCAA. Kotov spent a year in Montverde and won the championship with this team, the result for the season is 35-0. Alex's partners then included, for example, RJ Barrett, who now plays for the New York Knicks in the NBA, and Turkish Efes center Philip Petrushev.

Alex left Montverde not immediately for the NCAA, but for the NJCAA. It is an association of junior colleges and is also often referred to as Juko. A common story for those who feel like they're not ready for the NCAA yet, but want to play hard and improve. Kotov spent two years in this association, after which he moved to the NCAA, to the Illinois State Redbirds team. This is also a representative university of the mid-major category.

Alex has six months left to study at the university, but he can play in the team for another two and a half years. This happened because the players have the right to use the redshirt option. In fact, this is the right of the player to extend his career at the university, even if he has already graduated from the university. Plus, there's also the "cancellation" of the season due to the coronavirus (this happened last year), which also doesn't count, as well as the "cancellation" of the season due to injury (this happened to Alex in his second year in the NJCAA).

In general, these rules are very complicated.

- Due to an injury in my second year at the NJCAA, I opted to save the year. That's plus one season. In addition, this year I had a lot of misunderstandings with the coach, it all started last year. I thought that it would be possible to influence it somehow, to establish relations with him in the summer, but it turned out to be much more difficult than I thought. Therefore, after a huge number of meetings, we came to the conclusion that this year it would be easier for me to also take the option to save the year. So this year I'm graduating from university, getting an education, but I still have, roughly speaking, two seasons to play in the NCAA, - says Kotov.

Victor Lakhin, Cincinnati Bearcats

2021/22 stats: 14 games, 14. 1 minutes average

6.2 points (56.9% 2-pointers, 0% 3-pointers), 4.9 rebounds , 0.4 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.7 steals, 1.2 losses

Lakhin is the only Russian who represents a high-major university. This means that the university where Vitya plays often goes to the "March Madness" and has a tangible chance of winning the NCAA.

And the story of Lakhin began in Anapa. The parents wanted to send their sons - Vitya and his brother Vasya - to some kind of team sport so that they would play together. And chose volleyball. But because of the coach, they did not last long in the volleyball section and eventually went to basketball.

Lahin started in fourth grade but quickly rose to the city team. And in the Krasnodar Territory, if you play for the city team, then you are in full view of the Lokomotiv scouts. Vitya did not play Loko on a permanent basis, but by the 7-8th grade he was regularly on the team to participate in the Russian championships. The Railroaders took him as a reinforcement player - this is a common practice in children's competitions.

Further - a matter of chance. Loko juniors played in the final stage of the Russian championship and met CSKA twice - in the group stage and in the semi-finals. Lakhin gave two good games and ... received an invitation from the "soldiers".

At first he did not think of moving anywhere and stayed to finish the season in the south. But summer came, and he still went to see it. He was offered to stay after the first practice. Vitya talked to his parents and a month later he arrived at CSKA.

- The first season was probably the most emotional, full of some moments, memories. Because my brother and I arrived for the first time in a big city. On the one hand, this is a great freedom, because there are no parents nearby, but, on the other hand, this is also a great responsibility. Because you have never done the things that your parents did for you before, like laundry, cleaning, all sorts of small things. Even a waste of money: you never thought about it before, you were given - you spent it. And here you have money, and you know that if you spend everything, then at the end of the month you won’t have any left, ”recalls Vitya.

Lakhin reached the final stage of the youth Euroleague with CSKA and spent a pretty good season overall. Alexey Zhukov, the head coach of the “army” CYBL, left to work as an assistant in Nizhny Novgorod, and Maxim Sharafan came to CSKA from Lokomotiv. He worked with Vitya for three years, and during this time Lakhin managed to understand that he wants to play in Russia only at the highest level - in CSKA - and if it doesn’t work out, then it’s better to leave.

- I realized that it would be very difficult for me to get into the base. This is a top club with the highest goals, and as a young player I need to be not even the same as everyone else, but better, because I have no experience. It was necessary here and now to show some level and bring results. Let's be realistic, there were no players who can immediately enter the CSKA system and show something like that for a long time. Probably the Swede was the last one. I realized that I can’t do that, and since my dream is to be in the NBA, I decided to move closer to this league, this Wednesday, to America. That's why I'm here, - says Vitya.

But not everything was so simple. Back in Russia, Lakhin managed to get injured. He fell in the game moment, and his knee hurt. The medical staff did not suspect anything, and Vitya continued to train. The state of health worsened, but then the pandemic came, everyone went into self-isolation, and the center just went home. The knee was still swollen, but the pain was slowly receding. Vitya did not train and therefore did not feel any signs of deterioration. He already knew that he was leaving for America, and just waited for all the permits.

The injury happened in February and the departure was due in September. In the summer, Lakhin himself did an MRI, which showed that he had ... a torn meniscus. He took the results of the examination to the surgeon who scheduled the operation. Vitya went for it and began to recover in Russia, and he came to the USA with an already operated knee.

Everything should have been fine, but when he started running, the pain returned. Lakhin did another MRI, and it showed that the same meniscus was completely torn. The doctors said that it would take six months to recover. Therefore, Vitya simply missed his first season in the NCAA.

— All this time I didn't train, but I was always with the team: in scouting, in the locker room, in training. All lessons were online, and we lived in an apartment with the team. So that year helped me a lot, because even though I didn’t play, I was in the system and I knew the guys. It was my year of adaptation - to a new culture, to people, to new faces, to food. I had the same feeling as when I came from a small town to Moscow. You leave Russia for any other country - even to America, even to Italy, even to Spain - and you go through the same thing, Lakhin believes.

He adds that the Cincinnati had a new head coach at the end of last season and it was a difficult moment. A new specialist was appointed the day before Lakhin's departure to Russia, when he did not yet understand whether he would remain in the team for the next season or not. Whether to leave it, decided the new head coach. But in the end, the center managed to meet with him before departure and find a common language. The coach wanted to protect the Russians in the squad.

During the summer Vitya worked in the USA on his body and improved his skills. The season began in October, and in December, Lahin was the best freshman of the week in his conference. By the way, he has a situation similar to Alex: academically, Lahin is a sophomore, but he is considered a rookie in the team.

Andrey Savrasov, Georgia Southern Eagles

2021/22 stats: 14 games, 23.7 minutes average

11.9 points (51.5% two-pointers, 30% three-pointers, 73.1% free throws), 6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.4 block shots, 0.9 interceptions, 1 loss Andrey's first coach is a well-known Russian specialist Oleg Aktsipetrov.

— I remember that at first I had very different hobbies: football, basketball, taekwondo… But after the first two or three years of training, I realized that basketball is really mine, that I want to do just that. Slowly, I began to play for the sports school of the Admiralteisky district, for the Zenit Junior Junior League, played for the Russian national team U16, U18. We went to different tournaments, and somewhere the scouts saw my game and invited me to the USA, says Savrasov.

Andrey moved to America three years ago - in January 2019of the year. Now he is finishing his third year at the university, in the American education system it is possible to start studying in the middle of the academic year and, accordingly, then graduate also in the middle of the academic year.

Savrasov managed to play for the Texas Tech team, where he spent a year and a half. The first six months he did not play, he spent in redshirt mode - he trained, worked on his body, was with the team, but did not play for it. But the next season already played in the status of a freshman, that is, a freshman.

Andrei didn't get much playing time, but he still wanted to stay at the university. It was a high-major, and Savrasov wanted to prove that he deserved another role.

But then I talked to the head coach, and together they decided that it would be better to change the university in order to continue their career. The coach even helped find a new team, and that's how Savrasov ended up in Georgia, in the Georgia Southern Eagles team. This is a mid-major university.

Now in his second year with the new team, he is in the starting five and generally has a good role on the court. In theory, Andrei can play for the university for another two years, although he graduates from the university in a year.

Vladislav Goldin, Florida Atlantic Owls

2021/22 stats: 14 games, 16.5 minutes average

5.7 points (47.9% 2-pointers, no 3-pointers, 52.2% free throws), 5. 5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.6 block shots, 0.4 interceptions, 1.3 losses He played with his 2001, but at some point the team just fell apart and disappeared.

Goldin was sent to play by the year 2000, and the coach of this team turned out to be familiar with the coach of CSKA-DYuBL. Vlad and another guy were offered to the "soldiers" - just to look at them. But the screening went well, and after one of the training sessions, Vlad was offered to move to Moscow. New school, new surroundings, heavy loads, training twice a day - Vlad says that the first six months in the capital were the most difficult time in his life.

- At that time, I probably did not quite understand where I was moving and how much it changed. To be honest, I didn't even really know what DUBL was. Wasn't very knowledgeable. Youth League, Junior Team, Superleague… I knew the tournaments where we played: first the Southern Federal District, then the Russian Championship. When I found out that I was already in Moscow and had to go to the CYBL team for a tryout, I even got scared. But they left me, and I trained at CSKA for another four years. Then he played for the Russian national team U18 and U19, after which he received an offer to try himself in America. I decided to take a chance and moved there to the Prep school,” says Goldin.

Prep school is short for preparatory school. In essence, this is an opportunity to play basketball in the USA before going to university.

In October 2019, Vlad entered Patnam School in Connecticut. This is a small private school about an hour from Boston. Together with the team, Goldin became the champion of America in the championship among preparatory schools.

After that, Vlad was called to Texas, to the Texas Tech team - to the same team where Andrey Savrasov had played for a year and a half. Goldin saw that this was a big and serious high-major team, saw the conditions for training, and accepted their invitation without hesitation.

— In Texas, things are a little different. The way we played there was not like the way I played before, so the first experience was difficult. And then the head coach left us, replacing TexasTech with Texas. Most of the coaching staff left with him, and our team did not quite understand what to do. Only the assistant coach remained with us. And in the end, I decided to move to another team, to Florida, - say Goldin.

Due to the coronavirus, Vlad has the same situation as most student athletes: academically he is a sophomore, but the last sports season did not count, so he is a freshman in the team. Goldin has three years left to study, and he can play four more.

He himself says that his current team plays more European basketball, so he feels great there.

Alexander Glushkov, Appalachian State Mountaineers

2021/22 stats: 7 games, 4.7 minutes average

2 points (60% 2-pointers, 0% 3-pointers, 33.3% free throws), 1 .1 rebounds, no assists, 0.1 blocks, 0.1 steals, no losses

Born in Vladivostok, Glushkov started playing basketball at the age of 13 when he went to summer camp. I came home and told my father: "I want to play basketball." Parents sent Sasha to the section.

Glushkov's first coach is Eduard Sushko. After a year of working with him, Sasha was invited to the Spartak-Primorye system. He played in the Junior Junior League for a year, after which the entire management of the team and almost the entire squad moved to the PSC Sakhalin. At the same time, the base of the club remained in Vladivostok. Glushkov spent a year in the new club, after which he received an invitation from Moscow, from the IBA. His coach Alexander Antipov invited him.

And then it was a matter of chance, and a year later Sasha was already flying to the USA to study at school.

— I came to Moscow and played there for a year. When we were preparing for the Summer Spartakiad in Krasnaya Pakhra at the Trinta base, a coach from the USA arrived there. He was familiar with Alexander Antipov, because before that our guy had already played at the same school. He came just to relax, but he also wanted to look at the players. He probably liked me, and he invited me to school. I took the chance and got into high school. I spent 11-12 classes there, received several offers and decided that I would play in Appalachian State, says Glushkov.

Now Sasha is in his second year, but as you know, last year doesn't count. So Glushkov is considered a “freshman” in the team and can play for the university for another three and a half years, while he has two and a half to study.

When Sasha arrived at the university, he weighed about 90 kg. But now he has noticeably added muscle mass. He began to grow muscles during the last season, but he did the main work in the summer. Due to problems with visas, he could not go home to Russia, and he went to a friend in Houston. There he lived for a month, ate a lot and rocked. As a result, he entered the new season in excellent physical shape. True, the coach still does not really trust him.

Glushkov University is a mid-major who, last year, entered March Madness for the first time in 20 years. Sasha was not released then, but he nevertheless felt the atmosphere of the main student event of the year. Here's what he says about it:

- It was ... unbelievable (unbelievable - approx. "Interception"). Very cool feeling. 64 top teams, all at the highest level. We had two or three hotels, each floor was dedicated to a specific team. I don’t know how much it could be called the same “March Madness”, because, of course, all the measures were taken anyway. We had a quarantine, we had to be tested every day. And so everything was at the highest level,” recalls Glushkov.

David Didenko, UT Martin Skyhawks

2021/22 stats: 11 games, 17 minutes average

6.2 points (37.3% two-pointers, 37.8% three-pointers, 33.3% free throws), 3.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.2 steals, 1.7 turnovers

David has probably the most atypical fate among all our guys who now play in the first division of the NCAA.

Didenko was born in the north, in the city of Yakutsk. He remembers his childhood quite vividly: he says that the city authorities allowed not to go to school at -45 degrees Celsius, and if the thermometer was only -43, you had to pull yourself together, stick yourselves into a thick down jacket and stomp to school.

— I had a healthy down jacket, maybe five centimeters. I walked around like a big bubble. When I was 8 or 9 years old, we had -57 degrees in winter. Very cold. I didn’t leave the house for two days,” Didenko recalls.

In 2010, David ended up in the USA even before he started playing basketball. He was 10. His older sister was leaving for New York to study English, and David just went with her for a month.

While still in Russia, they found him something to do in the USA. On the classifieds website, the family looked at a message from a Russian coach who lived there, his name was Boris Karebin. The coach was needed so that David would not just mess around in the States.

But the boy got so caught up in basketball that he eventually wanted to stay. Parents allowed, and he went to an American school. Karebin trained him in Brighton Beach, this is a Russian-speaking area, so immersion in American culture was gradual.

— I first lived in New York, where I arrived, and then I traveled. Lived in Florida, then studied in Georgia, in Tennessee. I travel a lot around the country - sometimes I live there, sometimes there. Somehow I quickly learned English, apparently because I was still young. Literally in a year. In Russia, I studied English for three classes, but could not learn it. Here I first lived with my sister, she pushed me to talk to people, and somehow everything turned out by itself, - says Didenko.

David spent his first year after school in Juko. Remember the story of Alex Kotov? This is the same league that prepares players who have not yet grown up to the NCAA. But already in the second year, Didenko ended up in the first division, at the University of Georgia.

He is currently a UT Martin Skyhawks player, where UT is the University of Tennessee. Accordingly, David now lives and studies in this state. He has a year and a half left at the university, and he can still play the same amount at the university level.

At the same time, he is 21 years old and automatically enters the NBA draft next year. In mocks - that is, expert predictions - he is not drafted, but he still has to play the whole season, so everything is in his hands.

Pavel Zakharov, California Baptist Lancers

2021/22 stats: 4 games, 10 minutes average

1.3 points (14.3% 2-pointers, 0% 3-pointers, 60% free throws), 1 .5 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 1 block shot, 0.3 steals, 1 turnover

Last on the list - not by value, but simply because he is the only Russian I could not contact - Pavel Zakharov from California Baptist Lancers.

Zakharov was born in Sør-Varanger, Norway. In Russia, Pasha played for the Zenit youth team and helped CSKA play in the youth Euroleague, and in 2018, after playing for the Russian U18 team at the European Championship, he left for the Montverde Academy. We talked about it a little earlier.

He was considered a four-star recruit. In American sports, when they want to talk about the prospects of a particular player, they talk about him in terms of stars, and four stars is very good. Such an assessment helped him get into the Gonzaga College in the NCAA - this is one of the top programs, which, for example, reached the NCAA finals last season, having suffered its first loss of the season in this very final. Pasha then did not go to the parquet. A year before, the team did not get into the "March Madness" only because the championship was stopped due to a pandemic.

Zakharov spent two seasons at this university and moved to the California Baptist Lancers in the summer of 2021. Most likely due to playing time, because, obviously, it was much more difficult to get it in Gonzaga. But even at the new university, he still has an average of 10 minutes on the floor and one and a half rebounds. By the way, about the game on the shields: the height of the Russian center is 213 centimeters, in America these guys are called seven-footers.

This is almost all I know about Pavel Zakharov.

It seems that the Russians in the first division of the NCAA are over. If you know someone else that I forgot, please write in the comments.

Thank you for your attention! I will be glad if you share the text or video with your friends who are interested in young Russian players. Well, thumbs up, comments, subscriptions to YouTube - everything is traditional.

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Photo: official websites of clubs, personal archives of players;;;

“You can take the most talented NCAA player to MSU, but what will he play there now?” / Student Basketball Association

In the first part of the interview with actor and director Yegor Klimovich, President of the Russian Basketball Federation Andrey Kirilenko talks about the problems and opportunities for the development of Russian basketball, as well as the role of the ASB in the structure of the federation.

In a person, when he devotes a lot of time to some business, emotional burnout may occur after a while. How do you feel about basketball now?

— I have a good feeling, understanding and attitude towards basketball, but you are right about burnout. I absolutely do not want to play basketball, except sometimes to go out with friends to throw the ball. But I don’t have this great desire that I had for 20 years – to come to the hall, take the ball, come to the game, start watching basketball. I shy away from basketball games, I shy away from going out on the court myself, but my job today is a little different. It is related to basketball, but not related to watching or playing basketball. It's all a process around. So yes and no here.

- But I saw you play basketball with Khabib.

- Again, this does not mean that I hate basketball, I hate to play basketball now. Of course, I love playing basketball, but I don't like it to the extent that I had for 20 years, when you got up at 7 in the morning every single day, then practice, play, and here you are 24/7.

— What do you replace it with now?

— Now, if we are talking about work, there are a huge number of processes where the basketball game becomes the crowning achievement. But we still need to live to see this game, it needs to be organized, starting from negotiations with opponents, opponents. If international, then international; if domestic, then domestic clubs. The structure of different competitions from children to adults, veterans. We now have a large project “Quiet Basketball” – these are basketball guys with various disabilities, that is, different directions. The TV channel is a large basketball ecosystem in which basketball as a spectacle takes up half a percent of the time.

— You travel a lot in Russia. What are the main problems of basketball in the regions?

- There are a lot of problems. It is not very correct to single out one problem here, because the problem is closely related to economic history. There is very little money, resources, because of this the coaches have low salaries, the teams do not have the opportunity to travel to competitions, the teams do not have the opportunity to fully maintain the structure, build infrastructure projects. I understand this. At the very beginning, I said that there is a problem in which you can do something, but there is a given. So there is a certain given, and now there is no need to tear the hair on your head and say that it should not be like this and everyone around is to blame. We just need to work in the conditions that we have. I am very proud of my work in the Russian Basketball Federation, because in six years we have never paid attention to the fact that someone should be blamed for the process, for what is happening. There is a given, let's work with it. I like that during this time we have taken many positive steps that do not beg for the problems that exist, but steps have been taken, and they are really useful, they make progress for the development of basketball. But this does not mean that basketball is now in super condition. Step by step, it is simply necessary to heal some processes that are taking place.

— Is there any ideal pill or development strategy, starting from which these problems can be solved?

- Development strategy - yes, pills - no. There is no magic pill. Moreover, if we say that there is a lack of funding, a lack of certain resources ... If suddenly at some point Gazprom becomes a sponsor of the Russian Basketball Federation and allocates one hundred billion dollars every year for development, it’s not at all a fact that we can do a structure that is similar, for example, to varsity basketball or the NBA. This is impossible due to the fact that this is not only a resource story, not only money, but also people, first of all, who need to be trained and trained. In the days of the Soviet Union - we like to draw parallels - there were a huge number of coaches who worked in the same conditions, they were all about the same level. There was a slightly different system, communist, because everyone was equal, because there were a huge number of coaches. Now those coaches who were a big clip are retiring. The young guys who come already have too wide a range of salaries, conditions, work opportunities. There is no such huge incentive to work. You can’t blame them, every person wants to provide for his family, every person wants to work where they pay more. Naturally, all this affects, these are economic processes that affect the problems of basketball, including. But we are working in the conditions that we have. No need to complain about it. Step by step, you try to improve the direction, give some impetus to enthusiasts to start working. Without people in the regions, without enthusiasts, nothing will work. Andrey Kirilenko cannot take one now and change basketball in the country. It's unrealistic. There must be people on the ground. For example, when I hold my meetings, I say: “Guys, you are the only people who work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in your region, you know what problems you have in your region. Kirilenko cannot sit in an office in Moscow and tell how you live here, what problems you have.” We can only help, push some project. But if local people are not active, then the region will not develop.

- You touched on college basketball . We know that in the Russian basketball system there is a Student Basketball Association . What role do you assign to her?

— Of course, the College Basketball Association has a huge role to play. No need to just draw any parallels with the NCAA. Many are trying to impose this certain structure on me: why don't we have it like here, not like a structure that generates one and a half billion dollars every year. We have something else - and this is a given. The data that exists, and you have to work with it. Here I would like to express a big compliment to both Konovalov and Kryukov for the fact that they are dragging this project along, doing everything possible so that it develops not only quantitatively, but also qualitatively. If it started 10 years ago in the format of 5-6 universities, now there are 600-800 universities that participate in this movement - this is very cool. It is clear that today the level of basketball is slightly behind the professional level. So far, there are very few examples of players who go from students to professionals. There are, but it's all very point. I see that in college basketball the ideology itself is higher than just basketball. This is the involvement of young guys who study in colleges and institutes, in some kind of struggle among themselves in a good sports way. Thus, a huge number of friends appear. And against the backdrop of basketball, other tasks are still being solved. Not everyone will be a basketball player: someone will be a manager, someone will be a referee, someone will be a businessman. We have a huge number of examples when businessmen, having gone through some university and now earning a lot of money from their business, are returning to basketball in the form of partners, sponsors, team owners, heads of some federations. They help basketball further. Here it is more important for me that these guys are in sports, have some kind of outlet for their emotions through basketball.

- You had some controversial issues with the CRS , when Sergey Kryukov called and said: “Andrey, how can we solve this issue?”

— We had no conflict situations. We constantly solve a huge number of issues together, they concern everything in general. For example, at the beginning there was a big request from Kryukov and Konovalov regarding the formation of the ASB team for the Universiade. Prior to that, a team of more professional players was formed for the Universiade, but they are just at the student's age. Technically, this is all correct, but the College Basketball Association would like to see its real players who constantly play in the ASB structure. We gave this opportunity, we really tried it, we saw that the level today is not yet ready to be top, compared to American college basketball or even Italian. Now we tried back, played a little bit. That is, they gave it back, tried to take a certain number of players from the Student Basketball Association, but still attract professional players to balance the level. Until we try, we won't see. We must try, we must be open here.

— Do you have an internal attitude towards the Association and student basketball as a younger brother or still as an equal organization that occupies its own niche?

- This is an equal organization that occupies its own niche, but still the last decision-maker, the person who makes decisions, is the Basketball Federation. We have in our hands a kind of final authority that puts a seal. We are certified by the Ministry of Sports in this vein. You can use it in different ways, you can say: “No, it won’t be like that,” and that’s it. But we are very open in this regard. All our participants - we try to get into their structures to a minimum, manage them and participate to the maximum in order to strengthen the product. These are Lokobasket, IES-BASKET, ASB, VTB League, amateur league. Now there is veteran basketball, but it is more in the structure of the federation.

— You attend a lot of College Basketball Association events. Are there any things that surprised you , or that you emphasized for your work?

- I really like that [in the ASB] there is a large geography. We have a huge country, and we simply have to light up the regions, give the regions the opportunity to see basketball. To see basketball on a large scale, and those finals and Superfinals held by the Student Basketball Association are held very widely, on a large scale. It is very nice. For example, the last time I was in Belgorod, it was a super final - a great event. This is a great story for the fans, and for all the participants. It is very important for us that those participants who are in the ASB championship communicate with each other and carry the ideological component further against the background of basketball.

— In the fall, within the framework of the “Movement Up” festival of the ASB 3x3 Superfinal, held the Russian U-23 championship in 3x3 basketball, the winner of which was the ASB team. I would like you to rate this tournament.

- It's hard for me to give any assessment now. I really like that ASB doesn't just stop at classic basketball, which is now 3x3. I am very familiar with some of the first steps of 3x3 in the Olympic movement, which, in fact, led us to silver medals for both men and women in Tokyo. Therefore, it is very close to me. I believe that street basketball has great potential. We all come from the street, we played with friends on the street, and now it is somehow fixed in an official way. It seems to me that there is huge potential behind this, the future, especially in the regions, because there is not much infrastructure, and here all you need is to go outside. In order to have a professional team that would play at a high level, you really need a huge injection. Not like in football or hockey, but you still need injections to support the team. 3x3 is much smaller, very regionally tolerant, and you can get a high-level team to represent your region.

- One of the representatives of ASB was on the 3x3 team that won silver medals at the Olympics. Can we say that partly thanks to her we have the first set of Olympic medals?

- Of course. And not only the ASB, I would also mention the regions here, our children's teams, for example, IES-BASKET. Even just participation in the Olympic Games was formed on the basis of such an aggregate rating. This rating was given not only by the performances of teams, that is, pure basketball, but half of this rating was occupied by tournaments held by all our participants. That is, the region hosts a 3x3 basketball tournament, it registers all participants in the FIBA ​​system, and we get rating points for this. All the regions that participated: ASB, which held 3x3 tournaments, IES, which held 3x3 tournaments, all these points went into the overall standings, as a result of which we qualified for the Olympics without qualifying tournaments directly. We really got the opportunity to prepare normally in a calm manner to approach the Olympics in our best conditions.

— When the rumors that 3x3 basketball would enter the Olympic Games first started, did you even believe in this idea?

- I knew. When this was discussed, it was not just the words: “Let's try,” but there were already concrete steps, conversations with the Olympic Committee about inclusion, all the studies that led to this were carried out. The audience that street basketball has in the world is enormous. Naturally, it is very important for the Olympic movement to have this large audience on its site.

— To what extent can the Student Basketball Association become a training ground for professional athletes?

- Not yet, but over time, why not become. It's all a matter of time and persistence. I think what ASB does is great. If it continues in the same development dynamics from year to year, we will eventually get this platform. It will not be the same as in other countries, because we are going a little differently, and the infrastructure that we have at universities does not yet allow us to have a full-fledged team, to have full-fledged championships, where you would fight for the best, let's say.

- We all know about the structure of NC AA that this league is trying to attract the best athletes from all over the world. Will talented students be invited to play in Russia in the future?

- I don't see it yet. This doesn't mean it's a bad idea. This is actually a good idea, just like, for example, Real Madrid or Barcelona - they invite players not only from Spain, but from all over the world: Mirotic, who is from the Balkan countries, went through the structure. Now Yegor Demin from Russia has got to Real Madrid and he will follow this path just like those guys. We do not yet have a vector of attracting foreign players and students, so for now I would still not look in a foreign direction. I would still concentrate on my players and my structure, because the structure is more important even than the players now. You can have super players now, you can take the most talented player from the NCAA, bring him to play at Moscow State University, but what will he play there now? He will be head and shoulders above everyone, but as a result he will not have competition. Still, when he plays in the National Student Association in America, he has a huge number of competitors. This is a slightly misleading comparison. We always try to pull this comparison, unfortunately it won't work. Our structure is generally different, so we need to start from it, we need to dance from it. I believe that in the conditions that we have, what the ASB is doing is right. They are great fellows, that step by step they do not give in to the fact that now something did not work out, they hung their heads and do not work. No, they increase the number of teams, attract more participants, work very hard to ensure that managers emerge from this, because people are our Achilles heel. We need to train, we need to train people, judges, coaches, managers. This is a cumulative moment.

— What are the main achievements of the College Basketball Association over the past 15 years?

- At a minimum, perception. Eight years ago, no one really knew where college basketball was. Although I played at the journalism faculty of Moscow State University, then it was like a certain desire of one or two people. Now, after all, this perception as a full-fledged student basketball with a huge number of participants, teams, is a whole movement. "Move up" as a kind of slogan. The Student Basketball Association is not just an organization, but a movement of students who love and play basketball, but at the same time they are still passionate about some kind of communication with each other. This is probably the most important merit - when you have this movement. And since the students are quite energetic and enthusiastic guys, they will already grow meat on this, come up with new projects and add some zest to it.

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