March Madness Facts You've Never Heard Before

The NCAA Men's Basketball tournament isn't called "March Madness" for nothing. It's one of the most prominent events in American sports, generating more than a billion dollars, legendary performances, and, of course, interesting facts. From its humble beginnings with teams competing for a second-rate championship, it's grown into an entire month of college basketball mania. The history of the tournament is rich with exciting 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 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) was once actually a bigger deal than the Big Dance? Or that gambling brought down one of the greatest teams 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? These March Madness facts might surprise you.

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  • Vasectomy Rates Skyrocket Prior To The Tournament 

    Vasectomy Rates Skyrocket Prior To The Tournament 
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    One of the quirkiest trends surrounding the NCAA March Madness Tournament is the uptick in men who schedule sterilization procedures in the days before the games begin. According to ESPN, urologists have reported a rise of almost 50% in the numbers of men looking to get snipped just in time to watch hours of college basketball during the recovery period. 

    Urology clinics have embraced the surge. Many offer discounts, t-shirts, free snacks and games playing in the lobby during March Madness. 

  • The Odds Are Heavily Stacked Against EVER Filling Out A Perfect Bracket

    The Odds Are Heavily Stacked Against EVER Filling Out A Perfect Bracket
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    When it comes to NCAA March Madness brackets, the odds vary from year to year, as do the formulas that calculate the numbers. However, the probability of filling out a perfect bracket is about as low as it gets. According to the number crunchers at FiveThirtyEight, the odds of getting every game right were 1 in 1,610,543,269 in 2015.

    In 2014, the odds were worse at 1 in 7,419,071,319. 

  • The First Tournament Was Costly

    The 1939 NCAA championship tournament featured just eight teams and was hosted by Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. In the final, the University of Oregon Webfoots beat the Ohio State Buckeyes 46-33 in front of a crowd of thousands of attendees.

    Because the tournament was such a new venture, it finished in the red, costing the NCAA $2,500. Adjusted for inflation, that's more than $45,000.

  • The NIT Used To Be Bigger Than March Madness

    The NIT Used To Be Bigger Than March Madness
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    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 crowned a champion in a traditional tournament format, the NIT was invitation-only. As such, it was more prestigious with better talent and games were at New York City's Madison Square Garden.

    As late as the 1950s, the NIT was something of an equal of the NCAA Tournament. City College of New York won both the NCAA and NIT tournaments in 1950, beating Bradley University in both finals.

    In 1970, coach Al McGuire of Marquette University rejected an NCAA Tournament invitation in favor of the NIT. As a result, the NCAA decreed any team offered a tournament berth must accept it, or lose all postseason eligibility. After that rule change, the NIT declined in prominence and was ultimately absorbed by the NCAA in 2005.

  • The Most Successful College Team Ever Was Ruined by Gambling

    The only team in history to win both the NCAA and NIT in one year was the 1950 City College of New York (CCNY) Beavers, winning seven games in 17 days in March 1950. However, the school's joy over the victory was short-lived.

    In 1951, New York district attorney Frank Hogan ensnared seven CCNY basketball players on charges related to match-fixing. The CCNY players were part of a point-shaving scandal that spread to six other schools. They had taken kickbacks to fix games - and rumors of mob involvement swirled. The NCAA dropped CCNY from Division I to Division III, and the school never regained its college basketball relevance.

  • Madison Square Garden Didn't Host An NCAA Tournament Game For 53 Years

    Madison Square Garden Didn't Host An NCAA Tournament Game For 53 Years
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    CCNY, along with several other schools involved in the 1951 point-shaving scandal, often played at Madison Square Garden. The NCAA hosted regional championships at the Garden in 1951. However, between 1952 and 1961, the organization only staged first-round tournament games at the arena. After 1961, the Garden didn't host another NCAA tournament game until 2014 - a 53-year absence.

    It's impossible to say for sure why the NCAA distanced itself from Madison Square Garden for so long, but some believe the stigma of the 1951 improprieties may have tainted the arena's reputation.