Top 10 facts you didn’t know about March Madness
It’s that time of year again – March Madness is upon us. Perhaps more so than any other sporting event in America, March Madness is steeped in history and tradition. Millions of Americans watch as college basketball teams go head-to-head and try to take home the NCAA championship trophy. If you have never followed an NCAA event, this year is the perfect year to sit down, fill out a bracket and follow along with the madness.
Whether you have never watched a March Madness game before or you are a dedicated fan, we have compiled the top 10 facts about March Madness that are sure to surprise you.
- The first NCAA tournament was small – very small
The very first NCAA tournament was held in 1939 and only included eight different collegiate teams playing against one another. The games were played in Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco, and Oregon took home the trophy after beating out the Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Villanova Wildcats, Utah State, Brown, Wake Forest and Texas. It was undoubtedly easier to win the NCAA championship trophy when there were so few teams competing!
- March Madness was not always the biggest college tournament
Although it might surprise you, March Madness has not always been the biggest and most important college tournament. The NCAA tournament used to be less important and less popular than the NIT, or National Invitation Tournament. The NIT was so prevalent because it gave teams the opportunity to play games in Madison Square Garden, thus gaining media attention and attracting new fans.
Even in 1970, some coaches were prioritizing the NIT over the NCAA tournament, and the NCAA took steps – some of which were censured as monopolistic – to overpower the NIT. The NIT was later acquired by the NCAA and now serves as a tournament for smaller, less successful teams to play in.
- March Madness has a real impact on companies and employers
It has been estimated that one in seven fans call in sick at least once during March Madness, so that they can watch the tournament. Some office managers are even known to throw up their hands and let their employees watch the games at work.
You can imagine that the morale boost in the office that March Madness provides more than makes up for the small dip in productivity that it causes.
- It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to create a perfect bracket
You may think that you have a really good feeling about this year’s bracket and you are sure that it could be successful. However, you only have a one in 9.2 quintillion chance of filling out the perfect bracket. Famed billionaire Warren Buffet offers an annual prize (to the tune of $1 billion) for anyone who can fill out the perfect bracket – as you can probably guess, he has not yet given away a penny.
- A No. 11 is the lowest seed that has gotten to the Final Four
We all love an underdog, but only four No. 11 seeds have actually made it to the Final Four in the history of March Madness.
- The first point shaving scandal occurred in 1950
Although the NCAA tournament has seen its fair share of point shaving scandals, the very first one took place in 1950. The next point shaving scandal took place in 1978 and resulted in lengthy prison sentences for those involved.
- March Madness is a favorite event for gamblers
Ever wondered how much money is bet on March Madness? World Sports Network has accumulated a lot of stats and fun facts about March Madness in an infographic. It has been estimated that if sports betting was legal across the whole of the United States, about $15.2 billion would be bet on the matches.
- UCLA has the most NCAA tournament titles
At 11 titles, UCLA comes out on top in the NCAA tournament. However, based on a Sports Illustrated report, the team seems to have low morale and support, and instead favors immature players who are difficult to work with.
- March Madness leads to a significant increase in crime and scam attempts
March Madness is a time of excitement, and as a result, thousands of scammers use it as an opportunity to try to take advantage of fans. Roughly 3.4 billion fake emails are sent during the tournament in an attempt to lure in unsuspecting fans.
- The 1966 March Madness was a part of the civil rights movement
The 1966 tournament saw the very first team with a lineup comprised solely of black players – this became a turning point in the tournament’s history and a number of schools afterwards reconsidered their refusal to integrate.