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Based on the engine used in NBA Live 2002, NCAA March Madness 2002 represents EA SPORTS' first college basketball game for PS2. The highlight is a lineup of 138 NCAA schools, but players are also free to create their own alma mater and enter the team into a tournament. Players can input a team's name, city, state, and nickname before assigning it a conference, fight song, one of 14 logos, one of eight coaches, one of eight jersey styles, and one of three stadium types: field house, arena, or stadium.
One of the distinguishing features of the series since its 1997 PlayStation debut has been the Momentum Meter. Whenever a team performs well, a vertical meter located next to the score gradually increases. Once filled, the team will see a 50 percent performance boost (players can adjust this to account for more or less momentum). This version of the game also features advice and strategy from the EA SPORTS Coaches Council, including Roy Williams, Steve Lavin, Billy Donovan, and others.
The lone game mode is Tournament, where players attempt to take their team through five rounds of playoffs, past the Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, and Final Four, on their way to the Championship. Adjustable rules and options include automatic replays, cut-scenes between plays, CPU assistance, four skill levels, fatigue, and the length of each half, from two to 20 minutes. Players can also edit individual athletes and reorder team rosters before saving the information to memory card. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide