Sorry, got a little excited. But, if the sports world were a Steven Spielberg movie, you’d be hearing dah-DUMM, dah-DUMM right now, as its biggest college event—the NCAA men’s basketball tournament—is about to go full throttle.
Following every story and stat is impossible, but knowing some tourney trivia can go a long way in casual conversation or family fun. So (based on…let’s say, my jersey number in junior high), here are 11 neato notes from the Big Dance:
1. Each of the tourney’s four regions has 16 teams, but no “16 seed” has ever won the title. But there is hope because…
2. There are 2^67, or 147.57 quintillion possible winning outcomes in a 68-team bracket.
3. A little more math: Each tourney weekend eliminates three-fourths of its teams. So, 64 teams on Thursday the 21st will end at a mere 16 on Sunday the 24th, and so on. (This is a fun math problem to practice with the younger ones.)
4. UCLA has won the most titles with 11, followed by Kentucky (8), Indiana and North Carolina (both 5), and Duke (4).
5. John Wooden coached UCLA to 10 of those titles; his accolades of coaching and character are too many to name. Wooden died at age 99 in 2010 and is considered the best men’s college coach of all time.
6. The tournament began in 1939 and was the brainchild of Ohio State coach Harold Olsen.
7. “Cutting down the nets” began with North Carolina State coach Everett Case, who in 1947, stood on his players’ shoulders to do so when the Wolfpack won the Southern Conference tournament.
8. The tourney began appearing on television in 1969.
9. Only once has a team played a Final Four on its home court: Louisville, Freedom Hall, 1959.
10. The 68 teams are 31 conference champions and 37 teams receiving at-large bids based on win/loss records, strength of opponents, and other algorithms worthy of a Vatican conclave. See the Selection Sunday results 6 p.m. ET on CBS.
11. In 1996, the Illinois High School Association sued the NCAA over ownership of the term “March Madness.” The U.S. Court of Appeals granted the trademark to both parties.