Image Source: Håkan Dahlström/Flickr
The teams have been selected and the madness is officially underway. Whether you’re frantically filling out your bracket or cheering for your school, the annual college basketball tournament is kind of a big deal. In fact, you don’t even have to be a sports enthusiast to get riled up for the tournament. Everyone from casual basketball fans to guys who enjoy making bets are in on the action. So, if you’re simply routing for your Alma mater or the 1-in-10 people who participate in brackets, here are 10 things that you probably didn’t, but should, know about March Madness.
1. The phrase “March Madness” was coined by Henry V. Porter in an essay that appeared in the Illinois High School Athlete in March of 1939. Porter, who was a teacher and coach, described the annual Illinois high school basketball tournament as, “A little March Madness [may] contribute to sanity.” The phrase didn’t become popular nationally until CBS announcer Brent Musburger referred to the NCAA Tournament as March Madness in the 1980s.
2. Oregon, who were nicknamed the “Tall Firs” because of the height of its starting front-court,defeated seven other teams to win the first ever NCAA men’s basketball championship in 1939. The field grew to 16 teams from 1951 to 1952 and alternated between 22 and 25 teams from 1953 to 1974. It increased to 32 teams in 1975, and 64 teams in 1985. The most recent expansion was in 2011, when 68 teams were invited to participate.
3. One of the most iconic images from the tournament is when the triumphant coach snips the net from the rim, but did you know that it wasn’t until 1986 that players were allows to join in?
Since 1986, teams have received the actual hardwood court where they won the championship. Better yet, the teams can do whatever they want with the hardwood. There have been schools who repainted it and used the hardwood for their own home court, and others who have sold the court in pieces.
4. After the Connecticut Huskies defeated the Butler Bulldogs 53-41 in 2011, Jim Calhoun became the oldest coach to ever win a national championship at the age of 68. The youngest coach to win a national championship was Emmet B. “Branch” McCracken, in 1940. He was only 31 when his Indiana Hoosiers beat the Kansas Jayhawks 60-42.
5. What are your odds of picking the perfect bracket? 9.2-quintillion-to-1; since there are a total of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible outcomes. The odds are so unfavorable that RJ Bell at Pregame.com stated that if every individual alive in the world completed a bracket, the odds would still be a staggering billion-to-one.
Need more evidence on how bad the odds are? ESPN has been running a contest since 1998 and none of the more than 30 million submissions have been close to perfect.
6. According to the FBI, an estimated $2.5 billion is illegally bet on March Madness every year with only a small percentage occurring in Las Vegas.
7. The term “bracketology” first appeared in 1996 after the Philadelphia Inquirer noted that Joe Lunardi, a spokesman for St. Joseph’s University and a college-hoops junkie, called himself a “bracketologist” while projecting the tournament field. In January of 2002, ESPN.com featured Lunardi’s “bracketology” predictions. Within 90 minutes of posting that bracket, the page received over 250,000 hits.
8. It’s been estimated that on average, Americans will spend 8.4 million hours watching March Madness games.
9. There have been 7 teams that have won the national championship with perfect records. The teams are: the 1956 University of San Francisco Dons, the 1957 University of North Carolina Tar Heels, the 1964, 1967, 1972 and 1973 UCLA Bruins and the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
10. Ever since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams in 1985, the No. 16 seeds have never won a tournament game – the closest was when Kentucky-based Murray State and top-seeded Michigan State went into overtime in 1990, but Murray State ultimately lost 75-71.
Want more stats to help fill out your bracket?
Within the last 16 years, number one seeds have won the first round game of every March Madness tournament. Number two seeds have only lost three first round games.
The only seeds to win titles are Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8. Three
No. 11 seeds have made the Final Four, but a 10, 12, 13, 14, 15 or 16 has never been there.
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