Photo: Sporting News via Getty
The crack of the bat. The warmth of the spring sun. Longer days. St. Patty’s Day. March Madness. It’s March, baby. One of the best months of the year.
If you made it to this page you’ve probably been a college basketball fan for awhile. I’ve been watching since before most of you were born, a time when there were actually 10 teams in the Big 10 and the Pac-12 was still the Pac-10. A time when cheating wasn’t rampant and the game had integrity. Okay, maybe that’s not complete true. The game had integrity.
But it’s called March Madness for a reason. The buzzer-beaters. The under-dog stories. The camera shots of grown men crying over whether or not an 18-year-old kid can put a ball in a hoop. It’s real reality TV. But even after decades of watching — and playing — my favorite sport, I was even quite stunned to learn some new things about March Madness.
1. One-in-seven of you will call in sick
That’s right. According to Yahoo! Sports, 14 percent of
the country men will play hookie to get their Madness on. Sure, just as many women watch the Tournament, but they’re honest. They’ll take ‘personal days.’
2. “March Madness” was born in the state of Illinois
According to the IHSA website, “March Madness” all began in the Land O’ Lincoln, birth-state of yours truly. The annual high school boys basketball tournament started in 1908 and by the late 1930s had over 900 schools competing for the state crown. This was a time before the NBA and before NCAA basketball had become popular, so this high school basketball fever that had swept the state was dubbed “March Madness” by Henry V. Porter, the Illinois High School Association’s executive secretary. It wasn’t long before local writers copied the moniker, which blew up in the 40s and 50s. So thanks, Henry.
3. You will never EVER fill out a perfect bracket
Seriously, you have a better chance of landing on Jupiter with Elon Musk’s flying convertible than filling out a perfect bracket. According to mathematicians, the odds of filling out a perfect bracket are one in 9,223,372, 036,854,775,808 (quintillion)
4. The No. 1 seed has never lost against a No. 16 seed
If you’ve filled out a bracket before you’re aware that you automatically chalk in all the No. 1s following the first round. But did you know that No. 1 seeds are 132-0 against No. 16 seeds. Yeah, this run can’t last forever. Can it?
5. The first NCAA Tournament had only 8 teams
The year was 1939. The NCAA Tournament didn’t have the 68 teams we have today. They had 8. Eight. Yeah. In fact, the tournament only made about $2,500 that first year; the NIT Tournament was considered the much bigger deal. As far as who won that first NCAA Tournament? Oregon, who won in front of a crowd of 5,500 people.
6. Tourney time? Time to get snipped!
According to the Washington Post, requests for vasectomies explode all over the country just before the first week of March Madness, sometimes by as much as 50 percent. It turns out that if men have to sit on the couch with a bag of ice on their crotch for a few days there’s no better time to do it than the only time of the year there is must-see day-time TV. Smart thinkin’.
7. Nebraska should stick to corn
The Cornhuskers are the only NCAA basketball team within the six top conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC) to have never won an NCAA Tournament game. That’s 79 years. No wins in March Madness. Now you have an under-dog to root for. Although they may not even make it in this year.
8. The record for most points in a game is 61 by …
… A dude named Austin Carr. Unless you’re a basketball fanatic you have no idea who Carr is. But he was a stud, a stud who dropped 61 points in the first round of the 1970 tournament against Ohio. Remember, college games are only 40 minutes, so it’s a record that no one has come close to beating; David Robinson came closest in 1987 when he scored 50 for Navy.
9. LMU has the record for most points by a team in one game
Not Duke. Not UCLA. Not UNC. Not Kentucky. Not Kansas. LMU — Loyola Marymount University — owns the record for most points in a Tournament game. They dropped 149 vs. Michigan (who scored 115) in the second round of the 1990 tourney.
10. All four No. 1 seeds have only advanced to the Final Four just once
Bracketeer beware: while all No. 1 seeds win their first game, they don’t all advance to the Final Four. In fact, all four No. 1 seeds making it to the Final Four has only happened once, ever — Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA in 2008.
11. The first known NCAA point-shaving scandal started in 1950
Nearly 70 years before Louisville had to vacate their title, the City College of New York became the first disgraced NCAA champion. The school became the first team to win both the NIT and NCAA in 1950, but according to History, several of the team’s players were arrested for taking bribes from gamblers to shave points. It was later found that the scandal had spread to more than 30 players spanning seven schools, four of them in the Big Apple. The city hasn’t produced an NCAA champ since. Sorry, Spike.
12. If you’re drinking while March Madness’ing, don’t drive
According to WHIO, the Indiana State Police will be cracking down on potential drunk driving with increased patrols during the NCAA basketball tournament and St. Patty’s Day on March 17. Random patrols, saturation patrols, sobriety check points, the whole bit. So watch your buddies crash the boards, not their cars.
13. Corporations will lose billions due to lack of production
Don’t worry. You won’t be the only employee more concerned with the Radford score than your TPS report. According to WalletHub, corporations will lose $6.3 billion due to unproductive workers during March Madness. Just as mind boggling is that $10.4 billion will be wagered on the tournament, most of it illegally. It’s all good though, we won’t tell the FBI about your office bracket pool.
Josh Helmuth is a sports guy who loses to his wife every single year in his own bracket pool. Feel free to follow him here.