Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

20 Fun Facts About March Madness

Did you know the NCAA Basketball Tournament celebrates its 83rd birthday this year, having been started in 1939?

And did you know the original field was only eight teams, growing over time to the current 68-team event? Or that the only time there’s been no final game was in the COVID-disrupted season of 2020?

Those are a few bits of trivia that can gauge the extent of your March Madness. Keep reading for 20 more fun facts about the NCAA tourney.

Lawyers Mutual hasn’t been around as long as the tournament, but we’ve been keeping North Carolina lawyers safe since 1978. And we’re still on your team as you adjust to practicing law post-COVID. Our email newsletter “Practice Reimagined” offers timely tips, pointers and valuable links on wellness, work-life balance and quality of life – delivered straight to your in-box. Lawyers helping lawyers. It’s what we do.


20 Fun Facts About the NCAA Basketball Tournament

  1. The first tourney was organized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Oregon beat Ohio State 46-33 in the first championship game.
  1. The Final Four is held in a different city each year. Indianapolis, where the NCAA is based, hosts the Final Four every five years until 2040.
  1. Each winning university receives a rectangular, gold-plated trophy made of wood.
  1. Early on, the NCAA was considered a lesser event to the National Invitation Tournament, held in New York City. Teams could compete in both events.
  1. The 1949–50 CCNY team won both the NIT and NCAA tournaments (besting Bradley both times).
  1. In 1971 the NCAA barred universities from playing in the NIT and other tournaments if they were invited to the Big Dance.
  1. In 1978, the NCAA began using the term “Final Four” officially; the name was soon trademarked.
  1. The 2013 championship won by Louisville and coach Rick Pitino was the first title to be vacated (recruiting scandal).
  1. Twice in the past 10 years, the Final Four featured three coaches making their first appearance. In 2019, it was first-timers Tony Bennett (Virginia), Chris Beard (Texas Tech) and Bruce Pearl (Auburn). In 2017, it was Frank Martin (South Carolina), Dana Altman (Oregon) and Mark Few (Gonzaga). The champion in 2017 was North Carolina, which won in coach Roy Williams’ ninth trip to the Final Four.
  1. NBC first began broadcasting the Final Four in 1969. CBS later bought the broadcast rights.
  1. The 1979 championship game between Larry Bird's Indiana State and Magic Johnson's Michigan State attracted the most-ever television viewers.
  1. UCLA has won the most championships (11; 10 of those came in a 12-year run from 1964 to 1975, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973). Kentucky is next with eight titles, following by North Carolina (6), Duke and Indiana (5).
  1. John Wooden is the all-time coaching leader with 10 championships. Coach K of Duke is second with 5.
  1. In 2017, UNC was the first team to make 20 Final Fours. The Heels haven’t gone more than 10 years without reaching a Final Four.
  1. BYU holds the record for the most tourney appearances (30) without making the Final Four.
  1. The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament was inaugurated in the 1981–82 season.
  1. The women’s tournament was preceded by the AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament, held annually from 1972 to 1982.
  1. In 2016, the women’s championship game was moved to the Tuesday following the Monday men's championship game. Before that, the women’s final was played the weekend before the men’s.
  1. Beginning in 2022, the women's tournament features a 68-team bracket like the men's tournament, with play-in games. There are 36 at-large bids.
  1. In 2021, the entire NCAA tournament was played in Texas; most games, including the Final Four, were played in San Antonio, and some in Austin and San Marcos. 


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About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

Read More by Jay >

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