The Beginning of the NCAA Tournament - Beck's Auto Center | Lafayette

When Did the NCAA Basketball Tournament Start and Other Interesting Facts

Final four NCAA 2018 logo

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tips off on Tuesday with 68 teams all hoping to make it to the championship game on Monday, April 2 in San Antonio.  Although no team below an 11 seed has ever made it to the Final Four, every team still has to lace up their shoes and go out and play the game.

Oregon 46 – Ohio State 33

The NCAA tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen.  The University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University 46–33 on March 27, 1939 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

The Final Four, as the tournament became known, has grown exponentially in size and popularity ever since. The first tournament only included eight teams and it didn’t determine the national champion — the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) did.   But as the number of teams entered grew, so did the prestige of the tournament, and eventually the NCAA tournament surpassed the NIT in stature and its winner recognized as the national champion.

Tournament Has Grown Steadily

For the first 12 years of the men’s tournament, only eight teams were invited to participate.  The field grew to 16 teams in 1951 and varied between 22 and 25 teams from 1953 to 1974. It then steadily increased from 32 teams in 1975 to 64 teams in 1985. The tourney reached its current number of 68 teams in 2011.

1975 was the first time that the semifinals were officially referred to as the “Final Four,” with the title appearing on multiple NCAA publications.

Bracketology Begins

A seeding process was used for the first time in 1975. Conference champions who received an automatic bid were seeded based on their conference’s win-loss record in the past five years of the tournament. Teams granted at-large bids were bracketed based on record and strength of schedule.

In 1981, the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) was created as a tool for ranking teams, particularly to determine at-large bids.  As interest in the actual selection process grew a “selection show” was first broadcast on live national television in 1982.

Tournament Winners

With 11 national titles, UCLA has the record for the most NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships; John Wooden coached UCLA to 10 of its 11 titles. The University of Kentucky is second, with eight national titles.   The University of North Carolina is third, with six national titles, Duke University and Indiana University are tied for fourth with five national titles. The University of Connecticut is sixth with four national titles. The University of Kansas is seventh with three national titles.

To see a complete list of NCAA Men’s Tournament winners as well as a countdown clock to this year’s tournament go to Bracket History.

Women’s Tournament Begins

The NCAA hosted its first women’s national tournament in 1982, inviting 32 teams to compete in the inaugural tournament. The women’s tournament ultimately expanded to 64 teams in 1994.

Today, the women’s format mirrors the men’s, with play in four regions culminating in a Final Four held in a single location. The championship is played the day after the men’s, concluding the college basketball season.

The most dominant team in women’s tournament history has been the Tennessee Volunteers, who won six championships under renowned coach Pat Summit from 1973 to 2006. The Connecticut Huskies are second, with five championships under coach Geno Auriemma.

10 Most Memorable Moments in NCAA Basketball Tournament History

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament continues to grow in popularity.  In 2017 over 720,000 fans bought tickets to the games and over 23 million viewers watched the championship game.

For those fans who can’t get enough NCAA tournament hoops history go to 10 Most Memorable Moments and view the video. (It’s worth waiting for it to upload.)

Catching March Madness at Beck’s

Logo for Beck's Auto Center

While you are catching all the games on TV, let the boys at Beck’s take care of your vehicle.  We’ll fit in an oil change, tire rotation and a 27 point inspection, before halftime.  Go to Schedule An Appointment  and Coupons to arrange for us to service your vehicle.

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