The Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is in full swing and it is time to get excited! Every year we watch in anticipation to see which team will earn the title of National Champion.  But when did this all begin?  Who was the first team to claim this prestigious title?  We did some digging and found the answers for you!

The first NCAA college basketball tournament, which is now known as March Madness, was played in 1939.  That means there have been 72 National Champions so far.  It was organized by the NCAA but actually held by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.  It is said that the idea was originally presented by Ohio State coach Harold Olsen.

The first tournament only had eight teams and was hosted at Patten Gymnasium in Evanston, Illinois.  The first National Champion was the University of Oregon Ducks.  Prior to 1975, only one team per conference we allowed into the tournament.  However, after highly ranked teams such as South Carolina, Southern Cal, and Maryland were not permitted to play, the NCAA began to place highly-ranked teams in the tournament not just the conference winners.  Although there currently are no consolation games, there was a third place game played from 1946-1981.  It was not until 1985 that the NCAA expanded the tournament to include 64 teams and in 2011 they expanded the field again to include 68 teams.

The tradition of cutting down the net after a team has won the National Championship game began in 1947 when the coach of North Carolina State, Everett Case, stood on his players’ shoulders to cut down the net after winning the championship game.  In 1967, the slam dunk was made illegal only to be brought back in 1976.  In 1986, the three-point field goal was introduced with the three-point line set at 19 feet, 9 inches from the center of the basket.

Now for a few fun facts:

Teams with the most NCAA Tournament appearances:

Kentucky (52)
North Carolina (43)
UCLA (42)
Kansas (41)
Louisville (38)

Teams with the most Final Four appearances:

North Carolina (18)
UCLA (18)
Duke (15)
Kentucky (14)
Kansas (13)

Teams with most NCAA Tournament appearances without reaching the Final Four:

BYU (26)
Missouri (24)
Xavier (22)
Utah State (20)
Alabama (19)
Tennessee (19)

Coaches with the most National Championship titles:

John Wooden (10)
Adolph Rupp (4)
Mike Krzyzewski (4)
Jim Calhoun (3)
Bob Knight (3)

Now that you are all brushed up on your NCAA Tournament history get ready to cheer on your team!


I’m reading Cultural Anthropology: The Human Challenge