March Madness, the nation’s favorite basketball tournament, kicks off on March 14.
Friendly competition, risky betting, constant games, and cheering for teams you normally don’t are highlights of the tournament. But where did it all begin?
The first National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball tournament occurred in 1939 with only eight teams. The University of Oregon has the honor of holding the first champion title.
The first two decades of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s existence were overshadowed by the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), which was considered more prestigious at the time. The NIT remained popular until the 1950s. Most experts believe that the NCAA tournament’s expansion to 16 teams in 1951 caused it to become more popular. The NCAA assumed control of the NIT in 2005 after its purchase from the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association (MIBA).
The NCAA basketball tournament continued to expand, and by 1985, 64 teams were competing in the annual event. In 2001, another team was added, and three more followed in 2011, bringing the total to 68 teams in the competition.
The NCCAA Division I women’s basketball tournament occurs at the same time as the men’s tournament. The first women’s tournament was held in 1982, with only 32 teams participating. The tournament expanded in 1994 to 64 teams.
The informal name “March Madness” was introduced to the tournament in 1982 when Brent Musburger, CBS broadcaster, referred to it in his coverage. The majority of the tournament is played in March, hence the nickname.
University of California, Los Angeles has won 11 men’s tournaments, taking the lead with the most championship titles. Meanwhile, the University of Connecticut has dominated the women’s tournament with 11 wins.
March Madness is so entertaining that studies have found that workers are less productive during the tournament. Some workplaces even report an increase in employees taking vacation and sick days.
For three weeks, March Madness is a craze that preoccupies TVs and minds until the question is answered: who will hold the 2023 championship title?