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History of March Madness

As we enter the month of March, college basketball fans gear up for their favorite event of the season: March Madness. With three weeks left before the First Four games start, that means many have a chance to learn about the history of the event that so many talk about.


In 1939, the phrase “March Madness” was coined by high school official, Henry V. Porter, in Illinois. The teams that were in the final round were the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State. Oregon beat Ohio with a 13 point win, 46-33. At this time, there were only eight teams in the league. Only 12 years later, in 1951, the league had crafted a total of 16, before it finally became the well-known 64 in 1985.


The first set of coverage and use of the phrase within the NCAA was in 1982 by Brent Musberger. As for the March Madness anthem, “One Shining Moment”, it was incorporated in 1987 after Super Bowl XXI ran long and prevented the NFL from playing it. Following the anthem, a montage of the event’s best moments are aired, which includes buzzer beaters, tough losses, and reactions of fans.


The team that has made the most appearances in the tournament has been the Kentucky Wildcats. The team has appeared 58 times with their first being in 1942 and their last in 2019. Trailing behind them are the North Carolina Tar Heels with 50 appearances overall. Along with most appearances, comes the most wins. The Wildcats have accumulated 129 tournament wins in the NCAA while the Tar Heels come close with 126.


The tournament champions are a different story though. Over the course of 81 years, a whopping 36 teams have won the champion title. The winner that holds the title the most are the UCLA Bruins with 11, the first beginning in 1964 and their last coming back in 1995. Following the Bruins are the Wildcats with eight and the Tar Heels at six.


As for the coaches, Mike Kryzewski is the longest reigning with 97 total wins at Duke. He started in 1984 and is still actively coaching in the NCAA. Roy Williams, who coached Kansas and is the current coach of North Carolina, comes in second with 79 wins of his own.


In the points department, we can find that the number one spot is reserved for Austin Carr’s 61 points. Carr was on Notre Dame’s team back in 1970 when they went up against Ohio. A close second was Bill Bradley with 58 points. Bradley was on Princeton’s team in 1965 where they were matched up against Wichita State.


The highest scoring March Madness game ever was in 1990 when Loyola Marymount was put up against Michigan. Total points of both teams combined was 264, but Loyola’s 149 points took the win over Michigan’s 115. Loyola is also a part of the second place spot from 1988. Their 119 was tacked onto Wyoming’s 115, which put them at a combined total of 234.


Looking to the future, March 12 will hold Selection Sunday (streaming on CBS) with the First Four following on March 14 and 15 in Dayton, Ohio. The first round will take place on March 16 and 17 and the second round on the 18th and 19th. Narrowing it down even more will be the Sweet 16 on March 23 and 24, the Elite Eight on March 25 and 26, the Final Four on April 1, and finally the championship game on April 3.


All information is courtesy of the NCAA official website.

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