March Madness is one of the most popular tournaments in all of the sports, and it takes place, as the name suggests, every March. This year’s tournament featured 68 NCAA Division I basketball teams competing in a single-elimination tournament.
Every year, it seems as if the activity reaches new heights, and it most certainly has been doing so. Not only has it soared in popularity in terms of viewership, but also in terms of betting, with betting on March Madness now generating an immense handle in the U.S.
History of the NCAA March Madness Tournament
The majority of people think it was Henry V. Porter who coined the now-famous phrases back in 1939. Porter worked as an assistant executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). The phrase was initially used to refer to high school athletics, and Porter used it to indicate how much excitement there was among the spectators.
The Illinois High School Basketball Championship is a state-level competition. However, etymologist Barry Popik believes otherwise. He is also credited with coining the phrase, although this time eight years earlier. He was also making a reference to the excitement the tournament generated. In addition, he was leaning toward high school basketball, but in the state of Indiana.
Regardless, the NCAA Tournament was established in 1939 and initially consisted of just eight teams. Oregon became the inaugural National Champion when it beat Ohio State in the championship game. The score was 46-33 in the game. The competition expanded from eight to sixteen teams in 1951 and again in 1975, increasing the total number of teams to 32.
Until the 1980s, the phrase “March Madness” was not linked with college basketball. In connection with the events afterward, there’s broadcaster Brent Musburger. He is often credited for making this connection.
The word has become highly popular in recent years. This is partly due to the fact that the tournament was enlarged to include 64 teams in 1985. The lowest seed to ever win a championship is still the record.
This happened as Villanova won the tournament as an eight seed, which is unprecedented in college basketball. In 2011, the tournament was given another extension to its present structure of 68 teams in the format.
March Madness is a huge success
UCLA has been the most successful team in the history of March Madness. The Bruins have made history in this competition. All in all, there have been a record eleven Championships, ten of which came under the renowned head coach John Wooden, who retired as a basketball legend. Wooden was the head coach at UCLA from 1948 until 1975, and during that time, he competed in 16 tournaments and won more than 80% of his games.
In 1995, the Championship was won for the last time until now by UCLA. Other well-known personalities are descended from Duke. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski is now in charge of the team. He holds the record for the most victories in the tournament and has five national championships to his credit. Christian Laettner, who was a member of Coach K’s team from 1988 to 1992, is the NCAA tournament’s all-time leading scorer.
With 407 points, he is the all-time highest scorer. Laettner is also renowned for hitting one of the most legendary shots in the history of the tournament.
Key Dates And Facts
In 1938, The National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was founded by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. In 1939, Henry V. Porter coined the phrase “March Madness” to describe Illinois high school basketball. In 1939 as well, The first NCAA Tournament took place and had just eight teams. Oregon went on to beat Ohio State in the finals.
In 1951, the tournament field expanded to 16 teams, and in1975, the same happened as the tournament doubled to 32 teams. In 1982, Musburger used the term “March Madness” to describe the NCAA tournament, and the phrase caught on nationwide from there.
In 1985, the NCAA Tournament expanded more to include 64 teams. In 1986, the three-pointer line was universally added across college basketball.
In 2011, the tournament format expanded once again to its current version, making room to accommodate 68 teams. The last four of them were required to play in a play-in game to enter the field of 64.