Some people look forward to March for their corned beef, cabbage, and Shamrock Shakes. Others just really like to wear green. But for me, there’s always been something special about knowing March Madness is right around the corner. Because the tournament started in 1939, here are 39 facts about the tournament that double as reasons to be just as mad about March and the NCAA tournament as I am (just call me Hannah Hoop-ensteel from now on)!
1. The tournament first began on March 27, 1939. That makes this year’s tournament 79 years old!
2. Another name for this tournament is the “Big Dance.”
3. The tournament features 68 Division I college basketball teams.
4. The tournament idea originated from Ohio State University coach, Harold Olsen.
5. The selection day for game match-ups is usually held in Dayton, Ohio, and fans can watch this revered day known as “Selection Sunday” in person or as a televised event.
6. It is one of the most famous annual sporting events in the U.S., grouped together with the PGA Cup, the World Series, and the Super Bowl.
7. From 1939-1950, there were only 8 teams in the tournament, which quickly grew to 16, and it’s now nearly 8x the size of the original competition.
8. After the 2010 March Madness, there was talk of expanding to nearly 128 teams – now that’s mad!
9. Each area of the United States is seeded by either North, South, East or West, with the seed numbers ranging from 1-16.
10. The highest-scoring game in tournament history was between 11 Seed Loyola-Maramount and 3 Seed Michigan during the second round in 1990. Loyola-Maramount had 149 points, and Michigan had 115, which is a collective whopping total of 264!
11. UCLA holds the record for most March Madness Championships at 11, followed by Kentucky with 8, and North Carolina with 6.
12. The initial games of the tournament are called the “First Four,” followed by the “Sweet Sixteen,” the “Elite Eight” and the “Final Four.”
13. The national championship game will be played on April 2.
14. The 2017 March Madness champions were the North Carolina Tar Heels.
15. This is Loyola’s first tournament appearance in 33 years.
16. Along those same lines, this is the first tournament appearance for liberal arts Lipscomb University, located in Tennessee!
17. Last year, the NCAA made $1 billion during the three-week tournament. However, the athletes who compete barely see a cent for their hard work.
18. John Wooden holds the record for most title wins with 10 NCAA Championships. He was with UCLA for all but one of the wins, with the other one going to Jim Harrick in 1995.
19. From 1997 to 2013, the NCAA required Final Four games to be played in domed arenas that could hold 40,000+ people, but that stipulation has since been revoked.
20. The #1 seeds for each state are as follows: Villanova for the East, Kansas for the Midwest, Virginia for the South, and Xavier for the West.
21. The Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri holds the record for most Final Four games hosted at nine, followed by Madison Square Garden with seven, and Louisville’s Freedom Hall with six.
22. 2010 was the last year that one of the Big 10 schools (U of Michigan, Northwestern, Wisconsin, U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Purdue, U of Minnesota, Indiana, U of Iowa, U of Nebraska, Rutgers, and U of Maryland) became a NCAA champ.
23. In this year’s tournament, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) became the first ever #16 seed to beat #1 seed, Virginia! This upset cost ⅓ of the 17.3 MILLION bracket participants to lose a team they had in the Final Four!
24. One in seven fans call in sick to watch a tournament game, which I can only imagine looks like this, only to then lounge around all day watching hours of ball.
25. The odds of picking a perfect bracket are 9.2 quintillion: one… but maybe you’re the lucky one!
26. Warren Buffett is donating $200,000 to 20 of the closest brackets.
27. There are 24 different conferences competing in this year’s tournament.
28. The initial goal of introducing the March Madness was to “keep society on an empty keel.” That clearly backfired!
29. Dunking was banned by the NCAA from 1967 to 1976.
30. Duke player Jahlil Okafor is worth $2.6 million on his own; talk about putting your money where your mouth is!
31. Dartmouth has the longest running tournament drought, not having appeared since 1959, which makes this year 59 and counting. At least they’re consistent!
32. North Carolina has been seeded #1 16 times!
33. Louisville was the last team to play a Final Four game on their home court in 1959.
34. But since 2015, there have been three teams who got to play Final Four games in their own cities.
35. It is a time-honored tradition for the winning team to cut down the net after both the regional and national championship games. It starts with the coaches, then captains followed by the rest of the players in successive grades, senior to freshmen. Winning was a team effort, so celebration should be too!
36. The NBA draft takes place just three months after March Madness, and players must have played in a maximum of seven games to be considered for drafting.
37. In 1985, Villanova made history by being the lowest seeded team at #8 to win the championship by defeating #1 Georgetown with a score of 66-64.
39. I went out on a limb and picked Kansas State to win it all against Michigan State! K-State has had 29 appearances in the tournament, but never in the final game. I know it’s a long shot, but you never know! (Plus it’s High School Musical-esque because their mascot is WHAT TEAM?! Wildcats!)
Whether you’re a casual or super fan of college sports, it’s undeniable that this tournament is a huge part of what makes March so memorable. I hope everyone enjoys rooting for their team, whether it be a long-standing loyalty or a newly discovered underdog to go all the way, and also has fun going a little “mad” cheering on the hardworking college athletes competing in the 59th Annual NCAA Men’s Division I Tournament.