by Corey Blitzer
As March is finally upon us, it is time to gear up for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament also known as March Madness. This famed tournament kicked off in 1939 with only eight teams! The tournament grew to 16 teams in 1951 before expanding to 25 teams in the early 1970s. From 1975 to 1985 there were 32 teams in the tournament before reaching the expansion of 64 teams. Finally, in 2011 the NCAA agreed to allow 68 team into the field.
For anyone who has no idea what I am talking about, I’ll explain to you how this tournament works. March Madness is made up of 68 teams that are chosen by a selection committee which is announced to the public on March 15, selection Sunday. The bracket is broken up into four regions. Within each region each team is given a seed from 1 to 16, with 1 being the best and 16 being the worst. The 1 seed will play the 16 seed, 2 againt 15, 3 against 14, etc. If a team wins its first two games it advances to the sweet sixteen; at that point there are only 16 teams left in the tournament. Then the team advances to elite eight, and on to the final four.
March Madness has become the most popular American sporting event that’s not named the super bowl. Over 2 million people each year try to fill out the perfect bracket whether it be online, in school, or in the office. Just to let you know, the odds of actually filling out a perfect bracket are one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. The wonderful thing about this tournament is that you never know what is going to happen and who is going to win. Did you know that all four number one seeds have only advanced to the final four once in 2008? How about the fact that a 16 seed has never beaten a one seed. The lowest seed to ever make the final four was an 11 seed, back in 2011 VCU accomplished this for only the third time. 15th seeded teams have only advanced to the 2nd round just 7 times, the last one coming in 2013 with the cinderella team of the tournament Florida Gulf Coast. Finally, the lowest seed ever win the big dance was 8th seeded Villanova back in 1985.
March Madness has come a long way since 1939. It has grown into one of America’s top sporting events, and continues to be great year after year. The big dance will surely continue to throw surprises at us with many cinderella stories and upsets each year. This is the most wonderful time of the year, so just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of March Madness.