The Quick 10: 10 Things You Can Contribute to March Madness Conversations

Image credit: 

I'm not very into basketball. I mean, I filled out a bracket and everything, but I filled it out pretty much based on their rankings and then threw in a couple of surprise underdog wins just for the heck of it. I have no idea what I'm doing. Now Fug Madness"¦ I could take you all down in Fug Madness. Except I made a major misstep by thinking Speidi was going to out-fug SWINTON"¦ that's going to come back to bite me.

I digress. Since I don't know much about basketball and can't jump into the conversation about teams with injured players or stats or anything like that, I thought I'd do a little research so I can at least offer up some interesting facts about the tournament. Here are my findings"¦ we'll see if I can work them into conversation without sounding totally awkward.

porter1. The term "March Madness" was popularized by H.V. Porter, who has some sweet hair (that's him in the picture). The phrase had nothing to do with college sports "“ it actually involved a high school tournament sponsored by the Illinois High School Association, which Porter belonged to (he was actually the assistant executive secretary of the organization). In 1939, Porter wrote an essay called "March Madness" for the IHSA's magazine. The first time "March Madness" was used to describe the NCAA tournament was in 1982, when a CBS sportscaster used it.
2. Even though one of their own coined the term, the IHSA didn't own the trademark "March Madness." You might suspect the NCAA snapped it up first "“ nope. By the time anyone thought to go after a trademark in the 1990s, it had already been taken by a television company. The IHSA bought the rights and then tried to sue the NCAA for using the term, but the United States Court of Appeals decided it was a dual-use trademark, so both parties are able to legally use the phrase.

3. You've probably noticed the winning team cutting down the net at the end of the game, but what happens to it? Well, everyone gets a piece. Each player gets to cut a strand off of the net, and the head coach gets the final strand and whatever part of the net is left.

4. There have only been two years where no #1 seed has made the Final Four "“ 1980 (#2 Louisville, #5 Iowa, #6 Purdue and #8 UCLA) and 2006 (#2 UCLA, #2 Florida, #4 LSU and #11 George Mason).

5. Since the games were expanded to include 64 teams, no #16 seed has ever defeated a #1 seed, although there have been some close calls "“ one even went into overtime (Murray State vs. Michigan State in 1990). And if you chose a #15 over a #2 seed in your bracket, that was probably a mistake as well"¦ 96% of the time, the #2 seed wins.

floor6. For more than 20 years, the winning team has also gotten to keep the floor from the game that won them the title. The school can do whatever they want with it "“ some reuse in their own arenas, some sell pieces to students and fans, and others even donate it (Duke did, which I point out to get brownie points from Will, Mangesh and Jason).
7. When the NCAA tournament was first held, there were slots for only eight teams. That makes for a pretty short March Madness, I guess! The first eight teams were Texas, Oklahoma, Utah State, Villanova, Brown, Wake Forest, Oregon and Ohio State. The latter two competed for the championship and Oregon won. It's the only time they've won.

8. According to one estimate, American business lose around $237 million a day during March Madness because employees are busy talking about games, filling out brackets, checking scores on the computer or taking time off to sit in front of the T.V.

9. You know there are some knuckle-biters in March Madness, but quadruple overtime?! Yup "“ it has happened twice. In 1956, Canisius College was playing N.C. State in the quarterfinals. Even though the Golden Griffins were huge underdogs, the score was tied at the end of regulation. At the end of the first OT, the score was 69-69. One shot each made it 71-71 at the end of the second, and it stayed that way for the end of the third as well. It was 77-78 N.C. State with four seconds left when Cansius' Fran Corcoran hit a shot and won them the game, 79-78.

The second time it happened was in 1961, when St. Joe's played the University of Utah. The regulation game ended 89-89, and then in the first OT, a St. Joe's player sunk a basket"¦ for Utah. Whoops. The first OT ended with a score of 97-97. The second OT saw 101 for both teams, and the third was 112-112. Finally, in the fourth, the Hawks got tired of messing around with the Utes and ended the game 127-120. Awesome! Except it ended up not counting. Three of the St. Joe's players were involved in a gambling scandal immediately after the tournament and their historic win was stricken from the records. And no, I didn't actually know any of this (are you kidding me?). These two fabulous stories come from Allen Zullo's book March to Madness.

10. In 1940, Mary Jo McCracken, the wife of Indiana coach Branch McCracken (that's a heck of a name, isn't it?) thought his players were too stressed about the game. So she sneaked them out of the hotel room after her husband went to bed and took them to see Gone with the Wind. You know, to de-stress. It must have worked "“ they smashed the Jayhawks 60-42 and won the championship. (That story's also from the fabulous March to Madness.

So, there you have it. If anyone successfully uses these in water-cooler conversations, be sure to let me know. I like to feel like I've done something to contribute to the $237 million American corporations have lost today.

March 19, 2009 - 11:49am
webby
submit to reddit