NCAA Division I Men's Tournament
The NCAA Men's Division I Tournament is a single elimination tournament held each spring featuring 65 teams. While 65 teams are invited to the tournament, some consider the tournament to include only 64 teams, as the 64th and 65th seeded teams compete in a "play-in" game to decide which team will qualify as a #16 seed. Colloquially known as March Madness (as the tournament takes place mainly during the month of March) or the Big Dance (as opposed to the now smaller and less prestigious National Invitation Tournament (NIT)), the tournament takes place over 3 weeks at sites across the U.S., and the national semifinals (the Final Four) have become one of the nation's most prominent sports events.
Since its 1939 inception (a brainchild of Harold Olsen at the Ohio State University), it has built a legacy that includes dynasty teams and dramatic underdog stories. In recent years, friendly wagering on the event has become something of a national pastime, spawning countless "office pools" that attract expert fans and novices alike. All games of the tournament are broadcast on the CBS broadcast television network in the United States, except for the "play-in" game, which aired on Spike TV in 2001, and ESPN since 2002.
The tournament bracket is made up of champions from each Division I conference, which receive automatic bids. The remaining slots are at-large berths, with teams chosen by an NCAA selection committee. The selection process and tournament seedings are based on several factors, including team rankings, win-loss records and Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) data.
Two low-seeded teams (typically teams with poor records that qualified by winning their conference tournament championships) play the "opening round" game to determine which will advance into the first round of the tournament, with the winner advancing to play the top seed in one of the four regions. The opening Round game was added in 2001 and has been played in University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio each subsequent year. The opening round is considered part of the tournament and is often referred to as a "play-in" game.
A special selection committee appointed by the NCAA determines which 65 teams will enter the tournament, and where they will be seeded and placed in the bracket. Because of the automatic bids, only 34 teams (the at-large bids) rely on the selection committee to secure them a spot in the tournament. Conference champions automatically make it into the tournament.
Champions, Runners-Up and Locations
† denotes overtime games. Multiple †'s indicate more than one overtime. = denotes not on the championship team. x denotes later ruled ineligible.
Players who won the NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player who were not on the Championship Team.
- 1939 Jimmy Hull was on Ohio State
- 1953 B.H. Born was on Kansas
- 1956 Hal Lear was on Temple
- 1957 Wilt Chamberlain was on Kansas
- 1958 Elgin Baylor was on Seattle
- 1959 Jerry West was on West Virginia
- 1961 Jerry Lucas was on Ohio State
- 1963 Art Heyman was on Duke
- 1965 Bill Bradley was on Princeton
- 1966 Jerry Chambers was on Utah
- 1971 Howard Porter was on Villanova later declared ineligible
- 1983 Hakeem Olajuwon was on Houston
For details of team and individual records, see NCAA Division I Men's Tournament Records
v 4.SHUNT BROSS 5.spenster puamerwood
March Madness is a popular term for season-ending basketball tournaments played in March (Brent Musburger is generally regarded as the individual who first used that phrase in conjunction with the college tournament, using it during CBS Sports' coverage of the tourney back in 1982 - see below), especially those conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and various state high school associations. The phrase was not associated with the college tournament in 1939, when an Illinois official wrote "A little March Madness [may] contribute to sanity." March Madness is also a registered trademark, held jointly by the NCAA and the Illinois High School Association. The trademark has sparked a pair of high-profile courtroom battles in recent years.
March Madness refers to the frenzy these tournaments ignite among sports fans and, at least at the college level, sports gamblers. As it applies to college basketball, the term originally referred to the conference basketball tournaments, which occur in March just before the NCAA tournament begins, but in recent years has been used to refer to the NCAA tournament itself (the first weekend of which involves some 49 games, and which actually runs into early April). The term is now used in reference to both the men's and women's tournaments. The Big Dance also refers exclusively to the NCAA Tournaments to distinguish them from the conference tournaments and the NIT.
Brackets and Picks
During March Madness, many people enjoy predicting the outcome of the NCAA tournaments. The first recorded "Bracket Pool" was originated by Raymond Van Stone in Fairfield, CT circa 1980. Van Stone was the Sports Information Director of Fairfield University and a sports writer for the Bridgeport Post at the time. Bracketology is the art of picking the correct teams that will be in the tournaments. The 65 (including the 2 teams who compete in the opening round game) participating teams are announced by the selection committee on Selection Sunday, although some teams are known to have made it already by winning their conference tournament The teams are seeded from 1 to 16 in 4 regional groupings around the country. The eventual winners of the four regions then meet at the Final Four in a predetermined location. The four seeds play out the tournament through single elimination until a National Champion is crowned.
As a tournament ritual, the winning team cuts down the net at the end of the regional championship game. Each player cuts a single strand off of the net for themselves, commemorating their victory.
Many people fill out tournament brackets in office pools. Entrance fees and legality of the pools themselves vary. Whoever accumulates the most points by accurately predicting the outcomes of the games wins the grand prize, most often pooled from the entrance fees. Points are assessed in different ways; one example is given below:
- First round: 2 point per winning team.
- Second round: 4 points per winning team.
- Third round: 8 points per winning team.
- Fourth round: 16 points per winning team.
- Fifth round: 32 points per winning team.
- Sixth round: 64 points for predicting National Champion.
The point total steadily increases by round in order to reward those players who correctly picked teams that would go further in the tournament.
If at the end of the tournament two players have the same point total, a tie is often broken by the total number of total points scored in the Championship Game.
History of the term
H.V. Porter, an official with the Illinois High School Association (and later a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame) was the first person to use March Madness to commemorate a basketball tournament. A gifted writer, Porter published an essay named March Madness in 1939 and in 1942 used the phrase in a poem, Basketball Ides of March. Through the years the use of March Madness picked up steam, especially in Illinois and other parts of the Midwest. During this period the term was used almost exclusively in reference to state high school tournaments. In 1977, the IHSA published a book about its tournament titled March Madness.
Fans began connecting the term to the NCAA tournament in the early 1980s. Evidence suggests that CBS sportscaster Brent Musburger, who had worked for many years in Chicago prior to joining CBS, popularized the term during the annual tournament broadcasts.
Only in the 1990s did either the IHSA or NCAA think about trademarking the term, and by that time a small television production company named Intersport, Inc., had beaten them both to the punch. IHSA eventually bought the trademark rights from Intersport and then went after big game, suing GTE Vantage, Inc., an NCAA licensee that used the name March Madness for a computer game based on the college tournament. In an historic ruling, Illinois High School Association v. GTE Vantage, Inc. (1996), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit created the concept of a "dual-use trademark", granting both the IHSA and NCAA the right to trademark the term for their own purposes.
Following the ruling, the NCAA and IHSA joined forces and created the March Madness Athletic Association to coordinate the licensing of the trademark and investigate possible trademark infringement. One such case involved a company that had obtained the Internet domain name marchmadness.com and was using it to post information about the NCAA tournament. After protracted litigation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held in March Madness Athletic Association v. Netfire, Inc. (2003) that March Madness was not a generic term and ordered Netfire to relinquish the domain name.
Television has been integral to the success of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The first television broadcast was in 1946, when WCBS-TV (in New York City) broadcast the men's national championship game between the University of North Carolina and Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University). Regional television broadcasts began in 1952, and the championship game was televised nationally for the first time in 1954. In 1969, the championship game was broadcast on network television for the first time, on NBC]. NBC also televised selected regional games, with first TVS Television Network and later NCAA Productions, the in house production arm of the NCAA, broadcasting first and second round games to the markets where the universities are from.
In 1980, ESPN began showing the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament, which established ESPN's following among college basketball fans and was the network's first contract signed with the NCAA for a major sport. According to many fans of the tournament, ESPN was easily the best broadcaster of the first round, as six first-round games could be seen on both Thursday and Friday on ESPN, and CBS then picked up a seventh game at 11:30 pm ET. This meant 14 of 32 first-round games were televised. ESPN also re-ran games overnight. ESPN did not (and does not) have regional affiliates, so the entire country had to watch the same game; there was also no ESPN2 or other channels. (Areas with local interest in a game could see the game on a local channel, regardless of which game ESPN televised.) The benefit of this was that ESPN always showed the most competitive games, since that was the best way to gain national appeal.
In 1982, CBS obtained broadcast television rights to the tournament. In 1991, CBS assumed responsibility for covering all games of the NCAA tournament, with the exception of the single Tuesday night "play-in" game. (The play-in game (between teams ranked 64 & 65) is televised by ESPN, except for the first one, which was aired on Spike TV.)
Currently, CBS broadcasts the remaining 63 games of the NCAA tournament proper. Most areas see only eight of 32 first round games, seven second round games, and four regional semifinal games (out of the possible 56 games during these rounds). Coverage preempts regular programming on the network, except during a 2.5-hour window from about 5 ET until 7:30 when the local affiliates can show programming. The CBS format results in far fewer hours of first-round coverage than under the old ESPN format, with CBS showing a late game on both Thursday and Friday.
Games are assigned to each television market based on local interest and the presence of a university in the tournament. In all other markets, a featured national game is selected, designated on-screen by a yellow highlighting and the announcer stating "most of you will see..." CBS will then start people with that game and "whip-around" to other action around the tournament if there is more competitive action elsewhere. Each station is also informed of predetermined jump points should their game of local interest become uncompetitive. At these jump points, stations have the option of joining the whip-around coverage. Because of the number of students and alumni watching the game near a university, stations in markets where a university or college playing in the tournament stick with that game, regardless of how competitive it is.
In 1999, DirecTV began broadcasting all games otherwise not shown on local television with its Mega March Madness premium package, at $49. The DirecTV system used the subscriber's zip code to black out games which could be seen on broadcast television. Prior to that, all games were available on C-Band satellite and were picked up by sports bars. In 2003, CBS struck a deal with Yahoo! to offer live streaming of the first three rounds of games under its Yahoo! Platinum service, for $16.95 a month. In 2004, CBS sold access to March Madness On Demand for $9.95, which provided games not otherwise shown on broadcast television. The service was free for AOL subscribers. In 2005, the service charged $19.95 but offered enhanced coverage of pregame and postgame interviews and press conferences. In 2006, March Madness On Demand was made free, but dropped the coverage of interviews and press conferences. The service was profitable and set a record for simultaneous online streams at 268,000. In 2007, March Madness On Demand will again be free to online users.
The Final Four has been broadcast in HDTV since 1999, with all regional games broadcast in HDTV since 2005. In 2005 and 2006, four first and second round sites were designated for HDTV coverage. Viewers with a digital television on a station offering HD coverage will see a HD game, which may be different from the game shown on analog television. From 2000 to 2004, only one first/second round site and one regional site was designated an HDTV site. Some digital television stations choose not to participate in HDTV broadcasts of the first and second rounds and the regional semifinals, and split their signal into digital subchannels to show all games going on simultaneously. Most notably, WRAL-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina has split its digital signal four ways since 2000 to show all of the games. Starting in 2007, all tournament games will be shown in high definition.
The entire country sees the regional finals, the national semifinals, and the national championship. At the end of the tournament, a highlight reel of the best moments from the tournament is played, to the backdrop of the song One Shining Moment.
So how many people actually tune in to watch the tournament? According the Nielsen ratings, in 2007 132.7 million viewers tuned in to watch a portion of the tournament, 3 percent over the 2006 estimate of 128.5 million viewers.
The Division I Men's Basketball tournament is the only NCAA championship tournament (officially, the BCS Football Championship is not an NCAA event) where the NCAA does not keep the profits. Instead, the money from the multi-billion-dollar television contract is divided among the Division I basketball playing schools and conferences as follows:
- 1/6 of the money goes directly to the schools based on how many sports they play (one "share" for each sport starting with 14, which is the minimum needed for Division I membership).
- 1/3 of the money goes directly to the schools based on how many scholarships they give out (one share for each of the first 50, two for each of the next 50, ten for each of the next 50, and 20 for each scholarship above 150).
- 1/2 of the money goes to the conferences based on how well they did in the six previous men's basketball tournaments (counting each year separately, one share for each team getting in, and one share for each win except in the Play-in game and the Final Four). In 2007, based on the 2001 through 2006 tournaments, the Big East received over $14.85 million, while the eight conferences that did not win a first-round game in those six years received slightly more than $1 million each.
The term Final Four refers to the last four teams remaining the playoff tournament. These are the champions of the tournament's four regional brackets, and the only teams remaining on the tournament's final weekend. (The term has been applied retroactively to include the last four teams in tournaments from earlier years, when only two brackets existed.)
Some claim that the phrase Final Four was first used to describe the final games of Indiana's annual high school basketball tournament. But the NCAA, which has a trademark on the term, says Final Four was originated by a Cleveland Plain Dealer sportswriter, Ed Chay, in a 1975 article that appeared in the Official Collegiate Basketball Guide. The article stated that Marquette University “was one of the final four” in the 1974 tournament. The NCAA started capitalizing the term in 1978, and turning it into a trademark several years later.
Currently, the men's tournament begins with 65 teams. The two teams deemed weakest by the NCAA Selection Committee play the first game (the "play-in game") in Dayton, Ohio, and the field is narrowed down to 64 teams. The women's tournament starts with 64 teams, with no play-in game. The tournament proceeds by means of single elimination play on consecutive weekends in March at preselected sites in the United States.
In the men's tournament, all sites are nominally neutral: teams are prohibited from playing tournament games on their home courts (though in some cases, a team may be fortunate enough to play in or near its home state or city). Under current NCAA rules, any court on which a team hosts more than three regular-season games is considered a "home court" (conference tournament games are not counted for this purpose). In the 2006 tournament, Villanova was able to play its first two games at the Wachovia Center in nearby Philadelphia, a venue where it had played three regular-season home games. A fourth home game at that facility would have disqualified them from playing there. However, some semi-"home" courts (such as George Mason playing its regional at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., not far from its campus in Fairfax, Virginia, in 2006) are mere quirks of scheduling and have been part of the tournament for years.
On the third weekend, traditionally a Saturday and Monday for the men's tournament and a Sunday and Tuesday for the women's tournament, the final four teams meet in semifinals on the first day and the championship on the second. For several years in the men's tournament, the teams eliminated in the semifinals met in a consolation game prior to the championship; this was discontinued in 1981.
Final Four records
Final Four Single Game - Individual
- Points by a Freshman
- Field Goals
- 22, Bill Bradley, Princeton vs. Wichita St., N3rd, 3-20-1965
- Field Goals Attempted
- 42, Lennie Rosenbluth, North Carolina vs. Michigan St., NSF, 3-22-1957
- Three-Point Field Goals
- 10, Freddie Banks, UNLV vs. Indiana, NSF, 3-28-1987
- 27, Bill Russell, San Francisco vs. Iowa, CH, 3-23-1956
- 18, Mark Wade, UNLV vs. Indiana, NSF, 3-28-1987
- Blocked Shots
- 7, Tommy Amaker, Duke vs. Louisville, CH, 3-31-1986
- 7, Mookie Blaylock, Oklahoma vs. Kansas, CH, 4-4-1988
- Final Four Triple-Doubles
- Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati vs. Louisville, N3rd, 3-21-1959: 39 pts., 17 rebs. & 10 asts.
- Magic Johnson, Michigan St. vs. Pennsylvania, NSF, 3-24-1979: 29 pts., 10 rebs. & 10 asts.
Key to initials: NSF- National Semi-Final; N3rd - National Third-Place Game (Discontinued after 1981); CH - Championship Game.
Other Final Fours
In recent years, the term Final Four has come into use for the last four teams in other elimination tournaments. Tournaments which use Final Four include the Euroleague in basketball, national basketball competitions in several European countries and the now-defunct European Hockey League. Together with the name Final Four, these tournaments have adopted an NCAA-style format in which the four surviving teams compete in a single-elimination tournament held in one place, typically, during one weekend.
For details of interesting facts about the tournament, see NCAA Division I Men's Tournament Trivia.