The NCAA Men's Basketball tournament isn't called "March Madness" for nothing. It's one of the biggest events in American sports, generating billions of dollars, legendary performances, and, of course, interesting facts. From its humble beginnings with eight teams competing for a second-rate championship, it's grown into an entire month of insanity. The history of the tournament is rich with interesting anecdotes and all manner of March Madness trivia.
NCAA tournament history goes way beyond sheer numbers and rote lists of upsets. For example, did you know the now-basement dwelling NIT was once actually a bigger deal than the Big Dance? Or that gambling destroyed the greatest team in college basketball history, and kept the tournament out of New York for six decades? Or that men getting snipped in time to watch the early rounds has become a popular trend?Here are 16 sweet NCAA facts about the March Madness tournament that you probably didn't know.
The First Tournament Cost the NCAA a Ton of Money
The 1939 NCAA championship tournament featured just eight teams, and was hosted by Northwestern, in Evanston, IL. In the final, the Oregon Webfoots beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 46-33 in front of 5,500 people. Less well-known is that because the tournament was such a new venture it finished in the red, costing the NCAA the equivalent of $35,000. It turned a profit the next year, and that profit has exploded in the recent past.
The NIT Used to Be Bigger Than March Madness
Founded one year before the first NCAA Tournament, the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) used to have far more cache in the sports world. While the NCAA Tournament crowned a champion in a traditional tournament, the NIT was invitation-only, and seen as more glamorous, having better teams, and held its games in New York's Madison Square Garden.As late as the 1950s, the NIT was thought to be the equal of the NCAA Tournament. City College of New York won both tournaments in 1950, beating Bradley in both finals. Finally, in 1971, the NCAA decreed that any team offered a Tournament berth must accept it, lest they lose postseason eligibility. The NIT declined in importance after that, and was finally purchased by the NCAA in 2005.
Vasectomy Rates Skyrocket Before the Tournament Starts
Men looking for a good time to take a few days off AND a way to control the size of their families have started getting vasectomies right before the NCAA tournament gets underway. Urologists have reported a rise of almost 50% in the numbers of men looking to get snipped and watch wall-to-wall basketball while they recover.As such, urology clinics have embraced the surge, offering discounts, t-shirts, and free snacks, in addition to having the games on in their lobbies.
NYC Didn't Host an NCAA Tournament Game for 53 Years
Because of the CCNY scandal, the NCAA decided that New York held too many "temptations" for college basketball players - specifically, Italian Mafiosos offering sacks of cash to throw games. 1961 saw the last games played in Madison Square Garden, and for the next 53 years, the tournament exploded in popularity, hosting games all over the country, including in New Jersey - but not in NYC.It wasn't until 2014 that NCAA Tournament games returned to the famous arena, with Sweet 16 games taking place there. MSG still won't host the Final Four until at least 2021.