CHARLOTTE, NC: On March 27 eighty years ago, the University of Oregon beat Ohio State, 46-33 to win the first NCAA men’s basketball championship. Since that time the tournament has grown exponentially to become one of America’s most popular national sporting events.
Far be it for Myth Trivia to ignore such a momentous occasion, so in tribute, we present some interesting bits of history to wet your Sweet 16 appetite.
March Madness Trivia
For the first 12 years following Oregon’s championship, the tournament had a field of just eight teams. The popularity of the event quickly forced expansion over the decades until a field of 68 was established and has remained as such since 2011.
One of the reasons for the enlarged tournament, other than money, was to give so-called “bubble teams” an opportunity to compete. With smaller fields there were, still are and always will be, teams who are marginally qualified to be included. Those teams that always cry “foul” because another team ‘took” their place.
The lowest seed ever to win the event was 8th rated Villanova in 1985.
Which means that the bottom tier of 36 teams have no realistic chance of cutting down the nets.
In fact, if the NCAA expanded its brackets to 128 teams, there would still be squads sitting on the “bubble.”
By 2005, other than the Super Bowl, college basketball had become the most popular sport in the country for gamblers which, along with bragging rights for loyal fans, had much to do with its growth.
Due to the nature of the tournament event, “bracketology” has become a household word. Even President Barack Obama made an annual production out of his picks for the tournament.
Nobody has ever filled out a perfect bracket
And they probably never will given the odds against doing so are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. That’s quintillion in case you are wondering.
During the eight decade history of the event, UCLA has been the most dominant champion with 11 trophies, ten of which came over a 12-year span between 1964 and 1075 when John Wooden coached the Bruins.
Kentucky claims eight championships to rank second, with North Carolina third at six, followed by Duke and Indiana which have five.
With the popularity of women’s basketball in recent years, the Connecticut Huskies top the list with 11 championships while Tennessee is a close contender at eight.
Connecticut is the only school to win both the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball championship in the same year.
They’ve done it twice, in fact, in 2004 and again in 2014.
Tennessee’s Lady Vols claim the longevity record, however since they have appeared in the women’s tournament every year since it was introduced in 1982.
Then there’s the usual list of “est” records meaning longest, shortest, oldest, youngest, most. least and other trivialities.
Some of the more interesting facts include the most overtimes in a game which is four. It happened in 1956 and again in 1961.
Everyone always wants to know who scored the most points in a game and who had the fewest. Loyola Marymount scored 149 points in 1990, while surprisingly, North Carolina holds the mark for least points in a game, scoring only 20 in a 1941 outing.
Individual points honors go to Austin Carr who recorded 61 points in Notre Dame’s 1970 opener.
Glen Rice holds the record for most points in a single tournament with 184 for Michigan in 1989, while Christian Laettner of Duke holds the career record with 407 points in 23 games.
Lesser known, and perhaps more impressive, is that Laettner competed in 23 NCAA tournament games out of a possible 24, which means he went to the title game three times and the semi-finals once.
As for the oldest coach to claim the title, Jim Calhoun was 68 when he won in 2011. Emmett McCracken, then 31 years old, led Indiana to the championship in 1940 as the youngest coach.
Coach John Wooden of UCLA has the most national championships with 10.
Among active men’s coaches, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski leads the way with four titles and UConn’s Geno Auriemma has won nine in the women’s category.
Amazingly, 2008 was the only year in the 80-year history of the “Big Dance” when all four No.1 seeds made it to the Final Four; Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, and UCLA.
Digging deep into the archives, three individuals have won NCAA championships as both player and coach; Bob Knight as a player with Ohio State and coach of Indiana. Dean Smith as a player at Kansas and coach at North Carolina.
Kentucky’s Joe B. Hall has the unique distinction of accomplishing the feat as a player and coach at the same school.
Remember the National Invitational Tournament?
For all the NCAA hoopla, the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in New York was actually bigger than the NCCA. That is until the 1970s when the NCAA barred teams from playing in other post-season tournaments if they declined an invitation.
In 2005, the NCAA purchased the NIT.
With a capacity of 80,000, AT&T Stadium is the largest venue to ever host the NCAA basketball championship. In 2009, the organization ruled that minimum capacity for the Final Four must now be at least 70,000.
Though Kansas City, Missouri has hosted the most Final Fours to date, 10 since 1953. Indianapolis may overtake that mark in 2035. The reason is that it is now an NCAA rule that the Final Four must take place in Indianapolis (NCAA HQ) every five years.
The city has hosted six times already.
In closing, as always, we try to save the best for last.
Most fans naturally believe the term “March Madness” was created by some modern broadcaster for promotional purposes. The truth is that the phrase was coined around 1940 after the first NCAA tournament proved to be so popular.
Cutting down the nets by the tournament champions has long been a tradition. That said, another lesser known bit of championship booty is that since 1986 the winning school has been given the hardwood court upon which they won the title.
You might call that the NCAA’s own “Supreme Court Decision!”
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor is an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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