March Madness! Final Four Fever!

April 2, 2014

Some quick facts about the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

  • NCAA FactsIn 1939, Ohio State University basketball coach Harold Olsen came up with the idea of deciding the national champion each season with a 64-team tournament. (However, the term “March Madness” wasn’t coined until 1984, by the marketing team promoting the Final Four host city of Seattle.)
  • Currently, the tournament fields 68 teams—with eight teams squaring off in pre-tournament games for four final spots. Then the 64 teams are split into four “regions” of 16 teams each, where they are numerically seeded based on their regular season records and national rankings. The #1 seed begins by playing the #16 seed, the #2 team plays #15, etc.
  • Anything can happen in a tournament, and it usually does. At least one of the four #1-seeded teams make it to the Final Four, but not always. In 2006, none of the remaining four were top-seeded—they were #3 UCLA, #3 Florida, #2 LSU, and #11 George Mason.
  • Only once have all four #1-seeded teams advanced to the Final Four. In 2008, North Carolina, Kansas, Memphis, and UCLA all made it. (Kansas meat Memphis in the final game.)
  • Never has a #16 team knocked out a #1 seed in the first round. Only rarely has a #15 team beat the #2 team. In 2013, Florida Gulf Coast made it all the way to the “sweet 16” round of the tournament, beating #2 Georgetown and #7 San Diego State. They’re the most successful low-seeded team in tournament history, all the more impressive considering that the FGC basketball program was only in its second year of tournament eligibility.
  • The most successful team ever in the NCAA basketball tournament: UCLA. The school has won 11 national titles, 10 of them in the 1960s and ‘70s under coach John Wooden. Between 1962 and 1975, the Bruins made the Final Four 12 times. In 10 of those 12 seasons, they won it all.
  • Biggest-ever Final Four rout: In the 1990 championship game, UNLV beat Duke 103 to 73. UNLV set still-standing records for most points scored and largest margin of victory in a title game.
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