When first week of March comes, college students go gaga over basketball. This is called the March Madness which goes through until first week of April. This is an American tradition.
March Madness is the name given to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments. These tournaments decide the basketball champions of college basketball. The tournament is composed of 65 teams vying for college basketball championship.
Today, March madness is always associated with the NCAA Basketball Tournament. However, the term was first used to illustrate the annual Illinois High School Association tournament. It is another basketball tournament. Reporter Henry V. Porter first used this term in his 1939 article in the Illinois Interscholastic magazine, “March Madness.”
In 1982, CBS reporter Brent Musburger used the term in 1982 during the telecast of a tournament game. This started to be associated with NCAA basketball tournaments. After a court battle, the term March Madness is now co-owned by NCAA and IHSA through the March Madness Athletic Association.
Now, let us take a glimpse of the processes undertaken in this tradition that sends millions of fans into frenzy.
The NCAA is a single governing body that oversees around 1,200 voluntary college and university members comprising the association. These volunteers make rules to ensure a fair game among all intercollegiate athletics. Only active members, which are 1,006 among the 1,200 volunteers, are allowed to compete in tournaments.
The 1,006 active members are divided into three categories called the college basketball divisions. The Division-I is the most famous among the three divisions. It receives most of the publicity. Division-I is composed of schools that sponsor either at least seven sports for men and women or six for men and eight for women. Furthermore, they have a minimum and maximum number of scholarships to award.
Meanwhile, Division-II is composed of schools that must sponsor at least four sports for men and women. Unlike the Division-I, there are no minimum home game requirements for this division. Division-III must sponsor at least five sports for men and women. Schools in this division do not offer athletic scholarships.
There are 327 teams competing in Division-I. A selection committee chooses the teams for both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The selection committee is composed of select university athletic directors and conference commissioners, who meet between Thursday and Sunday before the first game.
Around 31 teams get an automatic invite to the tournament. The other invites, 34 for men and 33 for women, are selected of course by the selection committee.
The tournament is played over a period of three weeks ? from 1st week of March through 1st week of April. It traditionally begins on the third Thursday in March. On the first two full days of the tournament, the field of 64 teams is pared to 32. In the next two days, the field is trimmed to 16, which is called the Sweet 16. They take a four-day break and resume play on the next Thursday.
On the second week of the tournament, there are four teams left surviving. The tournaments of Final Fours are played in April. The March Madness ends when the basketball champion is determined. Then, it will start again next year.