Why Is the NCAA Tournament Called March Madness?

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FILE - Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs (1) celebrates making the game winning basket against UCLA during overtime in a men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Gonzaga won 93-90. A few years ago, with the football-playing Mountain West Conference perennially knocking on the door, Gonzaga cut a deal with the WCC: It would stay in the hoops-only league if, instead of splitting things evenly, the conference would give the Zags a bigger share of its NCAA tournament proceeds based on how they performed in March. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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The NCAA Tournament was first referred to as “March Madness” in 1982 when CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger used the term. But it was Henry V. Porter, an official with the Illinois High School Association, who first coined the term in a magazine in 1939.

“A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel,” he wrote. In 1942, he went back to the term in a poem called “Basketball Ides of March,” which including the line: “A sharp-shooting mite is king tonight/ The Madness of March is running.”

Porter’s initial reference came the same year the NCAA Tournament began, 1939. It was just an eight-team tournament that began with quarterfinals on March 17, 1939, and ended with the national championship – won by Oregon over Ohio State – on March 27.

 

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