NCAA’s March Madness is the annual men’s basketball championship that wraps up the end of the season. It’s an energetic time for both basketball players and coaches, but is especially exciting for the fans of these teams, who devoutly don their campus colors every single game day.
Each year, the tournament is broken up into four regions, all of which are further broken down into seeding. The regions (usually) represent the four different cities in which tournament play begins, different cities hosting games up until the semi-finals.
Because of Covid-19 pandemic however, all 67 games will be played inside a bubble in Indianapolis; the first step toward normalcy after the tournament's cancellation last year. Though this might not be what the 25% of fans allowed to attend games this year would consider ideal, it does make for another addition to the ample March Madness dates every superfan of the tournament remembers by virtue of nature.
Adoption of NCAA Championship Game Pseudonyms
The name “March Madness” didn’t catch on initially when it was used in 1939 by Illinois high school basketball coach Henry V. Porter. Instead, the “Big Dance” was coined in 1977, by Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire. Teams unlikely to go the distance might prefer this title, as you’ll often hear them referred to as “Cinderellas,” or fulfilling their “Cinderella Story.”
In 1982, the NCAA officially adopted the term “March Madness” after it was used during coverage in a broadcast by Brent Museberger. The idiom “Mad as a March hare” comes into play here, and if you live the life of a die-hard fan, it’s easy to see why you’d be experiencing a little March Madness.
The Expansion of the NCAA March Madness Tournament
Now, 68 teams compete, but it has taken a long time to arrive at that number. The initial eight teams doubled in 1951, which lasted all the way until 1975, when it doubled again to 32 teams.
In 1985, it doubled once more to 64 teams, and then, in 2001, the tournament had its first play-in game between two teams. Finally, in 2011, they expanded to 68 teams, including four play-in games, the winners of which take a place between the #11-#14 seed in the official tournament bracket.
These March Madness dates show the expansion of the tournament, a testament to the fact being its claim as the second-most gambled on sporting event behind the Super Bowl. It is a staple on office and dormroom calendars everywhere, allowing college sports fans an exciting event to start their year with before six long months without college basketball.
Incredible March Madness Moments
The First Men’s Basketball Tournament
The first ever NCAA March Madness Tournament is among the most important to know. Taking place on March 27th, 1939, the NCAA men’s basketball championship hosted Oregon and Ohio State men’s basketball. Only 8 teams were invited, and Oregon came out on top, beating Ohio State 46-33.
An Upset and a Comeback
One of the craziest March Madness dates to remember is the first day a #16 seed team beat a #1 seed in the first round of the tournament. March 16, 2018, the University of Maryland Baltimore County visited and blew out Virginia 74-54. Virginia was estimated to be the #1 seed overall, making this upset bound to destiny, and while UMBC faltered in the Sweet 16, Virginia came back with a vengeance in 2019, cutting down the nets and taking home the title.
Another incredible March Madness tournament happened on March 29th, 1982. Coach Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina had never won an NCAA Championship game before Michael Jordan hit the winning jumper from the short corner with 17 seconds left in the game over the Georgetown Hoyas.
With Friends Like These
And speaking of pros, arguably the biggest rivalry in basketball history, stemmed from another historical March Madness date. March 26th, 1979, saw a 32-0, Larry Bird-led Indiana Hooisers team against Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans. Despite Bird’s best efforts, Indiana couldn’t stand against a decisive victory led by Johnson, who not only cemented an on-court, NBA feud in the annals of its history, but also a strangely amicable off-court affinity for each other. The pair are still friends to this day.
2021 March Madness Dates
The first date to remember is Selection Sunday, which takes place on March 14th. This is where the Selection Committee picks all 68 teams that make up the tournament’s contestants, giving you just a couple of days to optimize your bracket.
The first four play-in games take place on March 18th. These eight teams will face off at either Mackey Arena or Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and the winners will move onto regular tourney play.
March Madness begins at 12 noon on March 19th, and kicks back up at the same time on March 20th. These games will be played between Mackey Arena, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, and Lucas Oil Stadium.
The second round of the tournament shares the start times of the previous days and rounds out the weekend, through March 21th and the 22th. In-person attendees will (or won’t) enjoy the games at all of the same as the first round except Mackey Arena or Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
During the third round, these March Madness monikers refer to the amount of teams left playing in the tournament, starting at 2 PM on March 27th and 1 PM on March 28th. In-person attendees will (or won’t) enjoy the games at either Bankers Life Fieldhouse or Hinkle Fieldhouse.
The quarter-finals of the tournament will be the last for the month of March, to take place March 29th at 7 PM and March 30th at 6 PM. These games will be played exclusively at Lucas Oil Stadium, which will host the remainder of the tournament.
With the longest rest players get between games, the semi-finals take place on April 3rd, starting at 5 PM. By now, most everyone’s bracket is useless.
NCAA Championship Game
On April 5th, 2021, the National Championship will take place at 9 PM at Lucas Oil Stadium, with one team able to claim the title of National Champions.
A Strong History with a Bright Future
The March Madness tournament is a testament to the culture of sports in America. Many universities pride themselves on their attendance year-after-year, and players relish the opportunity to play the most prolific games of their lives. The question on everyone’s mind this year, and every year: Who will cement themselves amongst the most significant March Madness dates in the tournament's history?