Archive / Sports

The History of March Madness: A look at the origins of the NCAA tournament.

March Madness: for basketball fans across the United States, this is their favorite time of year. For Division I college basketball players, this is the most important time of the year. All of their commitment, dedication, and constant hard work has a chance to pay off in hopes of becoming the NCAA men’s basketball champions.

The roots of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament stem back to 1939, where eight teams competed for the national title. Since then, the tournament field has grown to 64 teams, this number being set in 1985.

Illinois high school teacher and basketball coach, Henry V. Porter, first used the term “March Madness” in association with basketball in 1939 in the Illinois High School Athlete. Three years later, in a poem titled “Basketball Ides of March,” Porter used basketball as an inspiration to the American effort to World War II. Alluding to the Roman calendar (and William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar) presents an interesting look into the historic and literary origin of the coined college basketball term.

“March Madness,” though, wasn’t assigned to the NCAA tournament specifically until 1982, when Chicago sportswriter, Brent Musberger, referenced it during a coverage of that year’s tournament. The Illinois High School Association fought for the rights to trademark the term in a case that resulted in the March Madness Athletic Association. This organization allowed both the IHSA and NCAA to use the term for their high school basketball and college basketball tournaments, respectively.

As for the teams in the competition, the Duke University Blue Devils have quite the reputation. The NCAA tournament’s all-time leading scorer, Christian Laettner, hails from Duke University. He holds the record at 407 total tournament points. (Only nine players have scored more than 300 tournament points.) The largest comeback in March Madness happened in 2001, when Duke beat Maryland after facing a 22-point deficit. Duke coach, Mike Krzyzewski, holds the record for the most tournament wins by a single coach, 97.

Whether you call it March Madness, the Ides of March or that one college basketball tournament, the NCAA men’s tournament has made its presence known in American sports history. And whether it be challenging your friends’ teams, rooting for your team, being devoted to watching the games or just watching casually, March Madness brings fun to basketball fans’ years. As for filling out your bracket, choose your winners wisely.

Sources: NCAA, Time

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: