Each year, the month of March is a magical time for fans of college basketball, or sports in general, who are treated to more than two weeks of electrifying college basketball action during the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, better known as March Madness. March Madness is the trademarked nickname for the NCAA’s annual single-elimination tournament that dates back to 1939 and has since become a cultural event that transcends the normal boundaries of the sports world. Even if you’re not a fan of basketball, there is a good chance that you’ll be filling out a bracket or posting about a huge upset or feel-good story in the next few weeks.
That’s because the beauty of March Madness is relatability, in that any of the teams in the tournament has a chance of winning, or losing, during any given game. March Madness is the rare modern sports event where the massive anticipation is actually rewarded with nail-biting buzzer beaters, dramatic comebacks and much more. Plus, with each passing year the excitement and anticipation surrounding the tournament seems to grow leading up to March and into the semifinals (otherwise known as the Final Four) and the eventual crowning of the national champion.
Many people tune in to March Madness year after year to watch for possible “Cinderella” stories and for the big upsets that inevitably happen. And, sometime in the past 75 years, we have been saddled with the “bracket” — the instantly recognizable chart with all the teams and their seedings that has become a source of bragging rights in homes, offices and schools across the country. The excitement of filling out a bracket has played a huge role in the increase in popularity of March Madness. Consider that just last year, according to ESPN, “An estimated 40 million people now fill out brackets, betting $9 billion in total.”
Accordingly, March Madness is a fitting name for this tournament, as it is consistently one of the most watched and wagered-on annual sporting events in the U.S. – right up there with the Super Bowl in terms of revenue-generation. From the “Cinderella” teams that come out of nowhere, to the future NBA stars shining on collegiate courts, there is always a lot to be excited about when March Madness rolls around. Just take a look at the highlight reel from last year’s tournament:
This year, the now 68-team tournament will run from March 15 through April 4. Thus, in honor of the upcoming NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, we present to you five things that you may not have known about March Madness, but you should.
Five Fun Facts About March Madness
1. You Know Nothing! But, Neither Does Anybody Else.
The odds of you picking a perfect March Madness bracket are virtually impossible. Of the nearly 6 million brackets that ESPN fans entered last year, only two picked the Final Four correctly. With this in mind, when you go to fill out your bracket, be on the watch for teams that are just out of the national spotlight, like Wisconsin, Baylor and Memphis.
2. Blue Bloods Win Championships.
Did you know that every single national champion for the past 20 years has come from one of the “power” conferences: the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC or PAC 12? So, if you get stuck while you are filling out your bracket, keep in mind that perennial favorites include UCLA, who has won 11 championships (the most of any school), Kentucky, who has won 7, Indiana with 5, North Carolina with 4, and Duke and Kansas with 3 each.
3. It’s OK to be Vain with Your Selections!
Do you have a favorite color? Is there a team nickname that you prefer? Are you partial to a particular team’s mascot? Sure, selecting a Final Four consisting of familiar faces, like the Wildcats, Gators, Trojans and Huskies, would make sense. But, wouldn’t you rather have a Final Four made up of the Anteaters, the Ragin’ Cajuns, the Catamounts and the Dirtbags?
4. March Madness is a Moneymaker. Just Not for the NCAA.
From TV ads to fans betting on brackets, the NCAA brings in more than $770 million from March Madness each year. According to AskMen, “The tournament is worth billions of dollars in revenue thanks to a hefty television broadcast contract, but in lieu of its own revenue distribution plan, the NCAA does not keep the profits; rather, they are distributed among the schools and conferences playing in the tournament.”
5. Don’t Want to Miss a Single Shot? Now You Won’t!
Coverage of March Madness begins with the Selection Show on Sunday, March 13. Game action begins on Tuesday, March 15 and subsequently, according to the NCAA, “CBS Sports and Turner Sports will provide live coverage of all 67 games from the 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship across four national television networks – TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV – with all games streamed on NCAA March Madness Live. Additionally, TBS will broadcast the National Championship on Monday, April 4, marking the first time the title game has been televised on cable in the 78-year history of the event.” Check out the full programming schedule:
Turner Sports and CBS Sports announce 2016 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship programming schedule: https://t.co/wypjDyzRWP
— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 8, 2016
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