Mapping Out March Basketball Over the Years



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March basketball is one of the most popular sporting frenzies in the world these days, but that wasn’t always the case. Just like a carefully mastered fadeaway, March Madness took its time to reach perfection. Here’s the full story:

Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Just a touch of crazy

The first game of the tournament may not have gone down until 1939, but the madness began many years earlier. The first Wake Forest vs. Duke game was played in 1906, spurring college basketball popularity into what we know it as today. It’s also said that Wake Forest’s head coach dreamed up the idea of a college basketball tournament that same year.

Evanston, Illinois: A little off its rocker

The president of the NCAA came up with a tournament idea in 1939, hoping it would compete with another invitational scheduled at the time. The first game was played on March 17 with a win by the Oregon Webfoots (another name for ducks). Only eight teams played in the tournament, but the seeds of basketball greatness had been sown.

Seattle, Washington: One-way ticket to cuckoo town

There’s some debate over who named the tournament “March Madness,” but the NCAA credits Bob Walsh and the city of Seattle. They were hosting the tournament in 1984 and wanted to find a fun way to advertise it. They had heard the name associated with a high school basketball tournament in Illinois, and they decided to reinvent it.

Indianapolis, Indiana: Absolutely bonkers

The tournament now includes 68 teams from all over the country. This year, the Final Four will be held in Indianapolis — and if it’s anything like last year, it’s going to be insane. More than 70 million people will get in on brackets. Once you account for all the heartbroken fans and the few who rise victorious, you realize how many people are crazy for this tournament.

College basketball fans across the nation find themselves skipping work, sweating in their jerseys and riding a roller coaster of emotions. It’s not a plague, and it’s not an epidemic — but it’s completely mad.