Madness season is finally here.
To get you fired up for the Big Dance, let’s dive into some fun facts about the tournament’s history! Every basketball fan knows that March Madness has a lot of character, that’s what we love about it. Funnily enough, though, the things that define Madness culture today look very different from the original tournament, which started way back in 1939.
First off, the name “March Madness.” Obviously, a huge part of the tournament’s identity. But it wasn’t always. While “March Madness” was first used to describe basketball in 1939, it took decades – until 1982! — for the name to be officially associated with the tournament itself, when it was used off-the-cuff by sportscaster Brent Musberger during game coverage. And the anthem (and now video), One Shining Moment, that we know so well? It was actually initially meant to play after Super Bowl XXI, but the game coverage ran over! So, it came to define basketball just by chance.
Even more surprising is the history of the Madness bracket. Our fellow Bracketologists might be surprised (and/or disappointed) to find out that the first NCAA tournament began with just eight teams. Sounds less fun for us basketball nerds, but, guess that also means less chances of having your bracket busted. The tournament kept expanding over the decades, doubling in 1951, 1975, and 1985, reaching today’s numbers by 2011.
So, essentially, the March Madness tournament we know and love came to be through… random madness. Thank goodness for that. And if you need a few more fun factoids to get you fully ready, check out some historic plays from Madness history: there’s the tournament’s biggest upset, the 16-seed upset by UMBC against Virginia
in 2018. Or the greatest comeback, in 2001, when Duke
rallied a 22 point comeback against Maryland
. Or, there’s always the option to watch some clips of Duke’s Christian Laettner, all-time leading Madness scorer with 407 points! Alright. You’re ready. Let’s go dancing.