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March Madness: Get Ready to Play

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Playing basketball on the rooftops of Santee Court Lofts by ricardodiaz11 via LAist Featured Photos pool.

Playing basketball on the rooftops of Santee Court Lofts by ricardodiaz11 via LAist Featured Photos pool.
March Madness is here. And no, we're not talking about Charlie Sheen. It's tournament time, sports fans. And whether or not you're truly a college basketball fan, you'll only have a few days next week to fill out your brackets: Between about 4 p.m. Sunday, when the round of 64 is announced and Thursday morning when half of your office is empty and everyone's at the bar and not just because its St. Patrick's Day.

This year it seems there are more ways than ever to play along with an NCAA tournament bracket. In many cases there's money at stake and you can also do some charitable good.

Either way, you'll learn that sometimes picking teams by uniform color or weirdness of team name can get you just as far as watching 14 consecutive editions of SportsCenter or constantly refreshing SBNation for the latest projections.

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You can, of course, get warmed up and see who's hot and who's not starting -- right now, actually. Conference tournaments are underway, the winner of which, in many cases, is guaranteed a spot at the Big Dance. There may actually be a few dozen people inside Staples Center to watch the always under-attended Pac 10 tournament. And if you're a USC fan, you best be watching, as the Trojans need a strong showing this weekend just to make it into the NCAA Tournament's field of 64.

You can always fill out a bracket and play with Yahoo!, ESPN and FOXSports. If there's money at stake, dedicate a percentage of the pot to an agreed-upon charity.

Or you can check out one of our favorite options to play along for a good cause: