20 Incredible Facts About March Madness Tournament

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Heads up, college basketball fans: the 2021 March Madness Tournament is right around the corner, with all the usual excitement and fanfare. The NCAA’s single-elimination tournament is considered the greatest sports event by many. There are many hidden gems to uncover about this competition with good reason – and its long and storied history.

Sports enthusiasts and pro bettors alike are gearing up for the showpiece event – indeed, some sites like SBS   already have guides with strategies, betting odds, and the best online sportsbooks for the NCAA Tournament.

20 Amazing March Madness Facts

A perfect bracket is unbelievably unlikely.

Think you’ll get all the results right? Think again. Winning the lottery is more likely than getting every pick right for the March Madness bracket due to the sheer number of games to consider – we’re looking at the range of 1 to 9.2 quintillion here!

Of course, this is what makes trying so much fun. Has anyone correctly predicted March Madness? Let’s just say that if someone from the office boasts that they’ve done so, they’re probably pulling a fast one.

No team below No. 8 managed got to lift the trophy so far

Villanova in 1985 shocked the basketball world with their victory but no other team managed to follow the example of the Wildcats from the lower seeds.

No. 1 seeds are extremely consistent…

The seeding teams’ system goes back to 1979 in the competition, and all but three years (1980, 2006, and 2011) saw at least one No. 1 team make it to the Final Four.

…but not all of them are…

Still, not seeing a single upset is an upset by itself, and it’s no surprise we’ve only had a single year where each of the four No. 1 seeds made it to the Final Four: 2008.

…and winning the whole thing is often beyond them…

Indeed, the overall No. 1 seed has only won the championship three times – a pretty poor record considering they got eliminated in the first weekend four times!

…and let’s not even get started with No. 5 seeds

No. 5 seeds are the only ones never to have won a national championship out of the top eight!

No. 6 seeds have struggled as of late

For three tournaments in a row, none of the No. 6 seeds reached even the Sweet 16, and they actually have the worst Elite Eight appearances of the top eleven seeds since 2002!

UCLA dominates (though you probably knew that already)

By far, the school has the most titles in March Madness history, with 11 men’s basketball championships to their name, ten of which stem from a golden period between 1964 and 1975.

A single-game point record stood for over fifty years

Austin Carr, 1970, Notre Dame: his 61-point rampage in the first round against Ohio stands as a giant in the field, and many consider it unlikely to be broken any time soon.

Bookies and experts don’t always agree with the seedings

This year, computer power rankings suggest that Villanova’s win over Purdue and Tennessee’s triumph over Oklahoma State wouldn’t be that much of a shocker. If your NCAA tournament pool offers bonus points for bracket upsets, keep an eye out for these!

Trust the preseason polls (maybe?)

Interestingly enough, the pre-season polls outperform the RPI when predicting March Madness results, albeit barely. Research by data analytics site FiveThirtyEight highlighted how there’s real value in the wisdom of the crowds.

No seed below No. 11 made the Final Four so far…

1986 saw LSU reach the promised land, with George Mason to follow in 2006, VCU in 2011, and Loyola-Chicago in 2018.

…but double-digit seeding isn’t the end of the world

In 33 of the 35 tournaments with 64 teams, at least one such squad made it to the second week of play!

Undefeated teams don’t end up as the ultimate winners

Gonzaga is the fifth team in NCAA Championship history since 1977 to enter unbeaten – and while three of these teams made it to the Final Four, none of them managed to win the whole thing.

Alabama needs to make history here

The No. 2 seed never made the Final Four since 1985!

Repeat champions are rare

No one managed to pull this off since Florida in 2007: in fact, no defending champion made it past the round of sixteen the last three years.

Getting off to a winning start matters

Shockingly, no team has ever won a national championship if they happened to lose their first game in the conference tournament! West Virginia and Purdue, beware…

First Four ain’t bad, honestly

Between 2011 and 2018, at least one of the at-large teams went on to the second round at least.

The term “March Madness” has its own history

First uttered in connection to NCAA’s event in 1982 by Brent Musburger, it caused a legal ruckus in 1996 as the Illinois High School Boys Basketball Championship has been using the term for over sixty years at that point, leading to a rare “dual-use trademark” court decision to smooth things over.

You can win this thing at 31

…as a coach. Indiana’s Emmett “Branch” McCracken pulled this off in 1940, not that far after his own college years.

Final Thoughts

That’s that – a handful of March Madness facts to share with your friends as you follow the bracket to its exciting conclusion. We hope you’ve enjoyed these tidbits as much as fans around the world enjoy the tournament!


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