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.
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.
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 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.
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.