March Madness databases for your research and viewing pleasure

Whether you want to look for patterns or just watch great plays, there's a database for you

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Prepare to leap for joy, basketball fans. March Madness is almost upon us.

Image credit: Flickr/JMR_Photography

In less than two weeks the madness begins -- and I'm not talking about the impact of sequester cuts. I'm talking March Madness, the annual celebration of gambling collegiate athletic competition.

The 64 teams that will play in the 2013 men’s NCAA basketball tournament will be selected on March 17. Two days later comes the first tip off.

But it’s never too soon to harness the power of big data for your just-for-fun office pool! I’ve looked around and found a few interesting databases of historical March Madness.

Here’s one kept by the Washington Post that allows you to search for any tournament bracket and results going back to 1985. You can view the full tournament history of any team since that year (sorry, John Wooden and UCLA). You also can view the tournament records of coaches and conferences.

Even better, you can see how No. 2 seeds fared against No. 10 seeds, No. 5s versus No. 12s, etc. There must be some kind of pattern. You just have to find it!

If you want a database that goes beyond the NCAA tournament itself -- we're talking deep dive -- go to Sports Reference, where you can get data on seasons going back as far as 1892 and the NCAA tournament going back to 1939 (when there were only eight teams competing).

Let’s say, though, you’re in this for the joy of the game, not stats or money. You want to see highlights of great tournament games past, but tire of trawling YouTube. Then check the NCAA’s Vault, where you can search for and watch videos by teams, years, national championships, most popular games and classic games. The Vault even has a selection of highlights for dunks, great shots, great plays and great finishes.

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