There is no doubting that March is an exciting time for basketball fans. The 18/19 NBA season is gearing up for an exciting conclusion to the regular season, while college teams are also about to compete in the annual NCAA Division I Men's Basketball tournament. More popularly known as 'March Madness', the tournament brings together the nation's best college teams for three weeks of breathless action.
March Madness has surged in popularity in recent years, although the competition's complex format can still make it a tough follow. So, as we quickly approach this year's edition of college's biggest tournament, here is everything you need to know.
March Madness History
While the NCAA tournament can trace its roots way back to the early 1900s, the term March Madness was first introduced in 1939. The term was first coined by Illinois high school official, Henry V. Porter, and during the first official March Madness, the Oregon Ducks defeated Ohio State, making the Ducks the first winners in history. In the following decades, the tournament went through a period of sustained expansion, growing from just 8 teams in 1939 to 64 in 1985.
The competition has also been boosted in recent years due to the NBA's one-and-done rule, which has resulted in basketball's most promising players competing in the tournament ahead of the NBA Draft. The UCLA Bruins are the most successful team in the history of the competition with 11 wins, although Villanova are the current defending champions, having defeated Michigan in last year's final.
March Madness Bracket
While March Madness officially begins with 68 teams, the field is quickly narrowed as four teams exit the tournament in the opening round of the tournament. This leaves 64 teams, that are separated into four different tournament branches, with each branch containing teams ranked 1 through 16.
Just like in the NBA playoffs, the highest seeded team will face off with the lowest team (eg. 1st seed vs 16th seed), and this method usually leads to the nation's best teams facing off in the later rounds. This year's March Madness bracket will be revealed on March 17, with the first games beginning two days later on Tuesday, March 19.
Also read: The Best March Madness Games of All-Time