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March Madness history: The ultimate guide

If you are not familiar with the long and storied background of March Madness, then read on, as its history is a fascinating one.

It has often been said that that ‘the best way to predict the future is by looking at the past’, so if you are planning on betting on this year’s tournament, here are some interesting facts that will leave you chomping at the bit.

March Madness finals history

The first March Madness

The first NCA Division I men’s basketball tournament was played in 1939. There were eight teams competing for the title, which Oregon captured by defeating Ohio State in the final, with a score of 46–33.

The origin of ‘March Madness’

The term ‘March Madness’ was coined by Illinois high school official, Henry V. Porter all the way back in 1939. However, the title only reached the public’s consciousness during the 1982 tournament, when sports presenter Brent Musberger used it while broadcasting.

The current line-up

As we said, the first ever tournament only had eight teams. It grew to a field of 16 teams in 1951 and then to 32 in 1975. The roster grew again to 64 teams in 1985, 65 in 2001, and then, to its current line-up of 68 in 2011.

Who has won the most March Madness championships?

UCLA hold the enviable record of having won the most NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championships, with 11 titles. The University of Kentucky is second on the list of past March Madness winners, with eight titles.

What is the biggest upset in March Madness history?

Up until 2018, No.1 seeds held an impeccable record, winning all 135 of their first-round ties. UMBC changed that, taking out Virginia 74-54 in a result that not many had predicted. Up until that point, Virginia had only lost two games that season, by a total of just eight points. The bookmakers had 16-seed UMBC as a 20.5-point underdog, which makes their 20-point win even more impressive.

In terms of past tournament winners, the biggest upset came in the 1985 season. This was when No. 8 seed, the Villanova Wildcats, defeated several of the pre-tournament favorites to claim the title. Only the bravest of bettors gave Villanova a chance going into the Spring event. Their 66-64 victory over No. 1 seed Georgetown in the championship game is still considered one of the biggest shocks in March Madness final scores history.

Which team produced the biggest comeback?

Maryland built a strong 39-17 lead against Duke in the first half of their 2001 March Madness game. However, Duke pushed on to win by 10 points, claiming the accolade of ‘biggest comeback in tournament history’.

Which team has appeared at the most March Madness tournaments?

Kentucky has the most appearances at March Madness, with 57, while North Carolina has played at the tournament the second most times (49).

Which player has the most points?

Christian Laettner is a March Madness legend. From 1989 to 1992, he ruled the basket, scoring an incredible 407 points. Notre Dame’s Austin Carr has scored the most in a single game at the tournament, hitting 61 points in a game during the 1970 season against Ohio.

Who is the most successful coach?

John Wooden led UCLA to 10 of their 11 titles and he leads the way for coaches. Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is second on the list of winners with five titles.

Who is the defending champion?

The 2022 defending champion is Baylor. They defeated Gonzaga in the 2021 championship game, in what was one of the most exciting games in March Madness finals history.

YearChampion
1939Oregon
1940Indiana
1941Wisconsin
1942Stanford
1943Wyoming
1944Utah
1945Oklahoma A&M
1946Oklahoma A&M
1947Holy Cross
1948Kentucky
1949Kentucky
1950CCNY
1951Kentucky
1952Indiana
1953Indiana
1954La Salle
1955San Francisco
1956San Francisco
1957North Carolina
1958Kentucky
1959California
1960Ohio State
1961Cincinnati
1962Cincinnati
1963Loyola-Chicago
1964UCLA
1965UCLA
1966Texas Western
1967UCLA
1968UCLA
1969UCLA
1970UCLA
1971UCLA
1972UCLA
1973UCLA
1974NC State
1975UCLA
1976Indiana
1977Marquette
1978Kentucky
1979Michigan State
1980Louisville
1981Indiana
1982North Carolina
1983NC State
1984Georgetown
1985Villanova
1986Louisville
1987Indiana
1988Kansas
1989Michigan
1990UNLV
1991Duke
1992Duke
1993North Carolina
1994Arkansas
1995UCLA
1996Kentucky
1997Arizona
1998Kentucky
1999Connecticut
2000Michigan State
2001Duke
2002Maryland
2003Syracuse
2004Connecticut
2005North Carolina
2006Florida
2007Florida
2008Kansas
2009North Carolina
2010Duke
2011Connecticut
2012Kentucky
2013Louisville
2014Connecticut
2015Duke
2016Villanova
2017North Carolina
2018Villanova
2019Virginia
2020Cancelled due to COVID-19
2021Baylor

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NCAAB Odds

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Odds updated: May 28, 1:47 AM UTC

NCAAB Standings

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  • Division
  • America East
  • All Divisions
Team Conf W L Pct Home Away Div Ats OU
1 Vermont Vermont 17-1 25 5 .833 14-0 11-5 0-0 16-13-0 17-12-0
2 UMBC UMBC 11-7 16 13 .552 10-4 6-9 0-0 13-15-0 15-13-0
3 Stony Brook Stony Brook 10-8 18 13 .581 13-4 5-9 0-0 12-18-0 19-11-0
4 New Hampshire New Hampshire 10-8 15 12 .556 10-3 5-9 0-0 13-12-0 10-15-0
5 Albany Albany 9-9 13 17 .433 4-9 9-8 0-0 13-15-2 11-19-0
6 Hartford Hartford 9-9 11 19 .367 6-5 5-14 0-0 15-15-0 18-10-2
7 Binghamton Binghamton 8-10 11 16 .407 5-8 6-8 0-0 12-12-1 10-15-0
8 Massachusetts Lowell Massachusetts Lowell 7-11 15 15 .500 9-6 6-9 0-0 14-13-0 11-16-0
9 NJIT NJIT 6-12 11 17 .393 6-8 5-9 0-0 13-14-0 12-15-0
10 Maine Maine 3-15 6 23 .207 5-9 1-14 0-0 12-13-1 16-10-0

Last updated: May 28, 12:47 AM UTC

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