Everything You Need to Know about NCAA March Madness and Final Four
What is March Madness and the NCAA Tournament?
The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament consists of 68 teams across the United States and takes place every year. It is a single-elimination competition with teams competing in seven rounds for the national championship.
The winner of each region then makes it to the Final Four, where they face off for the ultimate prize.
March Madness, known for its thrilling upsets and frantic play, has been synonymous with the competition for decades since it was first used by Henry V. Porter, an Illinois high school official, in 1939.
The name resurfaced in 1982 when CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger used the phrase whilst commentating on that year’s tournament and it has been referenced ever since.
It is a hugely popular competition and trends on NCAAB betting sites show no signs of slowing down with wagers placed throughout the competition.
This article will cover everything you need to know about the tournament and delve through the record books to share its iconic history.
How the 2023 NCAA Tournament unfolded
This year’s competition kicked off on March 14 and ran until April 3 when the NCAA Championship game took place in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium.
One of the most exciting editions of the tournament in recent memory, it came to a stunning conclusion as the UConn Huskies of Connecticut defeated the San Diego State Aztecs 76-59.
Connecticut, who won the National Championship in 2014, stormed the West Regional to reach the title game and faced San Diego State who clinched the South Regional after beating Creighton by a single point, 57-56.
The UConn Huskies reached the last two after getting the better of the Miami Hurricanes who had reached the Final Four, having won their regional competition with an 88-81 triumph over Texas. The San Diego State Aztecs won the other clash 72-71 over the Florida Atlantic Owls, winners of the East Regional tournament, by defeating Kansas State 79-76 at Madison Square Garden.
The other regional finales took place in Las Vegas, Kansas City and Louisville.
Why the 2023 Final Four was special
The 2023 Final Four was a historic occasion. As Florida Atlantic, San Diego State and Miami all made their first appearances at the grand final, it was the first time since 1970 that three teams had done so in the same year.
What’s more, the four teams combined had only five previous Final Four showings between them since the competition expanded in 1985, and four of those belonged to the Huskies of Connecticut.
The quarter, with a combined seeding of 23, has the second-highest total too, with the only higher total coming in 2011 when the four finalists’ collective seed was 26.
How teams are selected and seeds are determined
There are currently two options for teams who want to enter the March Madness of the NCAA tournament.
First up are the automatic qualifiers. The 32 Division I conferences each award the team that wins the postseason conference tournament with an automatic bid.
The other scenario is an invitation in which the selection committee convenes on Selection Sunday and decides which 36 teams that did not automatically qualify have the pedigree to compete.
Then, following the First Four, the 64 teams remaining are split into four regions and each team is ranked from 1 to 16, thus receiving their seed for the tournament.
To give the highest-ranked teams an advantage as an acknowledgment of their current superior standing, the first-round games are determined by the top team facing the team ranked 16th. This, in theory, means that the team viewed as the best has the easiest fixture when the tournament tips off.
Then the next highest and next lowest face off. The second-ranked team takes on the team in 15th, the third-ranked team faces the team in 14th and so on.
A closer look at the history of march madness
The tournament was first held in 1939 with the inaugural competition consisting of just eight teams. The maiden victors were Oregon who defeated Ohio State 46-33.
March Madness continues to capture the attention of the world, with sensational finishes and real fairytale stories making this college tournament one of the most enthralling on the planet.
The competition doubled in size to 16 in 1951 and continued to expand until 1985 when the tournament grew to 64 sides.
In 2001, 65 teams competed after a single game was added before the first round opened, and then, in 2011, three more teams and three more games were included to create the round of the First Four.
In the 84 years since the tournament’s inception, 37 different teams have won the title. UCLA is the winningest school with eleven titles in total,10 of which came during a dominant spell between 1964 and 1975.