March Madness 06 dribbles into stores

EA's college basketball sim set to shoot on PS2, Xbox; defense wins championships with the lockdown stick.

College basketball fans have barely had a chance to glance at the pamphlets for Midnight Madness, the start of the NCAA hoops season, but Electronic Arts is already gearing up for the insanity of March. The publisher today announced that NCAA March Madness 06 has shipped to stores for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

In March Madness, gamers can control student-athletes who aren't worried about their endorsements, starting a rap career, or worshipping the all-mighty Benjamin like their professional counterparts do. In other words, these guys play defense. EA has added the lockdown stick feature to the game, ensuring that pressure can easily be applied to the ball handler with the right analog stick.

An in-game top 25 ranking system will keep gamers pushing their teams in the dynasty mode, and history may not repeat itself in the game's 10 classic college matchups. Brad Nessler and Dick Vitale provide the commentary, cheerleaders provide the entertainment, and authentic college cheers provide the feel.

The game shows EA strengthening its commitment to college sports. The publisher, which owns the exclusive rights to the NCAA Football brand, has enjoyed great success with its NCAA Football games, as this year the annual game led software sales in July. EA has also taken a liking to diamonds and announced MVP 06 NCAA Baseball earlier this year, keeping EA baseball alive despite Take-Two Interactive's exclusive license with Major League Baseball.

NCAA March Madness 06 was developed by EA Canada, is rated E for Everyone, and retails for $39.99.

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