When did March Madness become the name of the NCAA Tournament? History, timeline

The NCAA Tournament has a long history of upests, championships, and scandals. However, the question always remains, when did the term "March Madness" arrive on the scene?

NCAA Men's Final Four - National Championship - Texas Tech v Virginia
NCAA Men's Final Four - National Championship - Texas Tech v Virginia / Tom Pennington/GettyImages
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March Madness. It's a term loosely used to the describe the hectic timeframe of college basketball at the end of March, i.e. the NCAA Tournament.

But like any form of life, a burning question still lingers. Where did this name come from and who is responsible for it? Well, that's quite simple. Look it up in the NCAA Archives, or you could just read it here and have a fun history lesson.

In 1939, Henry V. Porter, a high school basketball official in Illinois, was the first person to coin the term "March Madness". But the term didn't find its way to the world of television until the 1982 NCAA Tournament (won by North Carolina and Michael Jordan) when Brent Musburger used it in his coverage. The term has been synonymous with the tournament ever since.

The first ever NCAA Tournament was won by the University of Oregon, defeating Ohio State in the final game. The reigning champions are the University of Connecticut Huskies, coming into the 2024 NCAA Tournament as the top overall seed. UConn defeated San Diego State in last season's championship, earning their 5th title overall.

March Madness first got its name in 1939, but didn't gain attraction until 1982

The madness often refers to the many times a top-rated team would fall to a lower-seeded team, busting brackets across the coutnry by those bold enough to predict the outcome of the tournament. Lower-seeded teams making a massive run through the tournament also adds to the intrigue.

Some of the notable lower-seeded schools to make a run include Saint Peters in 2022 as a 15-seed when the Peacocks made a run to the Elite Eight. In 2011, the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams became the first team to go from the "First Four" to the Final Four as an 11-seed. Twice in the tournament, a 16-seed has beaten a 1-seed with UMBC knocking off UVA in 2018 and Farleigh-Dickinson defeating Purdue in 2023.

Virginia went on to win the tournament in 2019 after their loss to UMBC. Whether or not that happens to Purdue this year remains to be seen. Additionally, the amount of upsets that have taken place during this regular season and postseason makes this year extremely unpredictable, such as NC State upsetting several top-ranked teams, including UNC, Duke, and Virginia to win the ACC Championship. This is March, and the madness has only just begun.


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