For some, it's the most exciting sports event of the year. Here's how to make the most of it.
By Nadira A. Hira, FORTUNE writer-reporter
NEW YORK (FORTUNE) - Even if it's been a while since you were in college, that's no reason to miss out on one of the finest time-honored traditions of undergraduate life -- March Madness.
Starting March 16, 64 hungry college basketball teams will battle it out for a berth in the Final Four and bragging rights for the rest of their lives in the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Championship.
And because they don't get paid -- and because it may be the last time they play ball competitively -- they play their hearts out, meaning prime sports-watching, even if you're not a diehard fan.
Here's how to get in shape for the tournament.
We know, we know. Between the Blackberry, the meetings and doing actual work, you hardly have time to learn your coworkers' names, never mind do brackets with them. But what better way to build office camaraderie than to shakeology results fight it out in a NCAA Tournament office pool.
Bracketpolls.com lets you register your group and customize your bracket for free. And for the more ambitious folks, ihavetheedge.com offers stats and trackers starting at $4.99 that'll intrigue the most experienced bracketers.
In the broadband era, even p90x3 before and afters the most inexperienced sports fan can learn the game -- and keep up with the tourney -- with a couple hours, a decent-sized monitor and a VIP pass to the NCAA's free on-demand package, available at www.ncaasports.com/mmod.
Watch the early rounds at your convenience -- which, with 56 games in the first three rounds, means something -- and pick your own replays, so by the time the championship rolls around, you'll dazzle your friends with your b-ball expertise.
Nothing gets you in the March Madness spirit better than a good, old-fashioned basketball movie. Whether it's the hard-hitting fare ("Above The Rim"), a lighter approach ("White Men Can't Jump") or an on-and-off-the-court tearjerker ("Love Basketball"), you'll find yourself seeing the epic side of the game in no time.
For a list of favorites, visit www.collegehoopsnet.com/review/movies.
It might seem like there's always a game on during March Madness, which is why it's so important to fill the downtime with something equally fun -- EA Sports NCAA March Madness 06 for Xbox ($179.99) or PlayStation 2 ($149.99).
Pick it up for at p90x results3 your local game store for $29.95, and if you don't have a system already, grab one of those too. (Depending on the retailer, Xbox will run you around $180, and PlayStation 2 around $150.)
Have a tournament of your own with friends to get your competitive spirit up, and keep it around for hours of mindless fun afterward.
Size does matter -- at least when it comes to flatscreens -- especially when you're trying to watch 10 guys chase a small ball around a court at top speed.
Impress your friends and treat yourself with a 46" flat panel HDTV from Samsung. This unit uses a 10-bit processing method to produce a stunning range of 6.4 billion colors for picture quality that is truly lifelike. In addition to impressive visuals, this set also delivers impressive sound via the Dual Acoustic Chamber System (DACS), which uses computer-simulated sound technology to fully articulate audio from low to high frequencies and everything in between.
For the ultimate on-court action, take your friends out into the backyard for a pick-up game of your own--on your new backyard basketball court from Flex Court Athletics at www.flexcourt.com. It's a steel reinforced concrete pad with flexible "cardio-basketball" tile laid over it--just so you don't ruin your joints trying some Jordan-esque moves--and you can get it emblazoned with any logo in a variety of colors. You'll have the coolest yard on the block, hands down, for about $36,000.