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March Madness Fun Facts

Mar 21, 2019

March Madness is one of the biggest, most exciting and most fun events in all of sports. The annual tournament is held each spring in the United States. Here’s everything you need to know about the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament, which has been played annually since 1939. This year March Madness is from March 19th - April 8th, 2019.

What is March Madness?

The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament of 68 teams that compete in seven rounds for the national championship. The penultimate round is known as the Final Four, when (you guessed it) only four teams are left.

68 teams line up with a chance to win the national title. It's not just the best 68 teams from among the more than 350 teams that play Division I basketball, though. Teams are split into 32 conferences, and each of those conferences has an automatic bid. Every conference plays a season-ending conference tournament, and gives the automatic bid to the winner. The other 36 teams are chosen by a selection committee. They are called at-large bids, and they generally go to the 36 most deserving teams. Obviously it is a very difficult job to pick the 36 best teams, and the process is very subjective and can be very controversial.

What are seeds?

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is made up of 68 teams. On Selection Sunday, before any tournament game is played, those teams are ranked 1 through 68 by the Selection Committee, with the best team in college basketball — based on regular season and conference tournament performance — sitting at No. 1. Four of those teams are eliminated in the opening round of the tournament (known as the First Four), leaving us with a field of 64 for the first round.

Those 64 teams are split into four regions of 16 teams each, with each team being ranked 1 through 16. That ranking is the team’s seed.

In order to reward better teams, first-round matchups are determined by pitting the top team in the region against the bottom team (No. 1 vs. No. 16). Then the next highest vs. the next lowest (No. 2 vs. No. 15), and so on. In theory, this means that the 1 seeds have the easiest opening matchup in the bracket.

What is Selection Sunday

Selection Sunday is the day when the Selection Committee reveals the full NCAA tournament bracket, including all teams and all seeds. In 2019, Selection Sunday is on March 17.

Fun Facts

  • The first tournament was 80 years ago, in 1939, with eight teams. Oregon won the first tournament against Ohio State.
  • In 1951, the field doubled to 16, and then kept growing. In 1975, the field numbered 32 teams. In 1985, it increased to 64-teams. In 2011, the current 68-team format was adopted.
  • Since seeding began in 1979, North Carolina has been seeded first in a region 17 times, more than any other school. Followed by Kansas and Duke with 14 #1 seeds each, Kentucky has had 12. North Carolina has also played in 20 “Final Fours,” more than any other school.
  • Of the 81 tournaments, there have been five schools that have appeared in over half of them. Kentucky has appeared in the most at 58, followed by North Carolina (50), Kansas (48), UCLA (47) and Duke (43). These five schools are also the only ones to win 100+ tournament games. Kentucky and North Carolina lead with 128 and 124 victories, respectively.
  • UCLA has won the tournament 11 times, more than any other school. Kentucky ranks second with eight championships, North Carolina is third with six titles.
  • There are seven tournament champions that had an undefeated season; San Francisco in 1955-56, North Carolina in 1956-57, UCLA in 1963-64, 1966-67, 1971-72 and 1972-73. Indiana was the last school to accomplish the feat in 1975-76.
  • An American Gaming Association survey projected $10.4 billion will be wagered on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, including office pools.
  • UCLA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been named the Most Outstanding Player of the "Final Four" a record three times (1967-69).
  • Kansas City has played host to the “Final Four” ten times, more than any other city. Kansas City last hosted the “Final Four” in 1988.
  • Indiana boasts the youngest head coach to win a national title. When head coach Emmett “Branch” McCracken guided the Indiana Hoosiers to a championship in 1940, he wasn't that far out of college himself. At 31, he became the youngest man ever to coach toward a national title. He led his team to another title in 1953.
  • Though the tournament has been held for almost 80 years, only 35 schools have ever won the top prize.
  • Americans will eat a lot of pizza in March. Pizza orders also increase by 19%.
  • It's been a long tradition that the tournament champions have cut down the nets to take home, but since 1986, the winning school has also been given the hardwood court, too. Many sell and/or auction off pieces to fans.
  • Glen Rice holds the record for most points in a single tournament with 184 during Michigan's 1989 run, and Duke's Christian Laettner holds the career record with 407 points in 23 games.
  • The record for most overtimes in a single game is four, and it happened twice, once in 1956 and again in 1961.
  • The record for most points scored by individual in a NCAA tournament game belongs to Austin Carr who recorded 61 points in Notre Dame's 1970 opener. Loyola Marymount scored the most amount of points by a team in one game with 149 points in 1990, while North Carolina holds the record for fewest points after recording 20 in a 1941 game.

Share you thoughts

Do you watch March Madness every year? What team are you rooting for?  Comment below!