March Madness is a special time of the year for basketball fans; it is the excitement surrounding the Illinois state college basketball tournaments. The beginning of March introduces the start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament. Teams from colleges all over the country compete to claim the national championship. There are a total of 68 teams competing in seven rounds. At the end of the sixth round, four teams continue to the penultimate round also known as the Final Four. Fans gather to watch the remaining four teams compete to determine which team will take the title of the next U.S. national champion.
The NCAA was founded on March 31st, 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. The initial reason for the NCAA was not basketball, however; it was formed to preserve football as a college sport. Around the early 1900s, no less than forty-five football players had suffered fatal in-game injuries. Most of these players died from head injuries, broken necks, internal damage, or broken backs. Roosevelt assembled a meeting consisting of many coaches and athletic advisers proceeding to discuss how to make the game safer, which led to Roosevelt modifying a few rules and safety regulations to make sure the players were protected from injury. To raise awareness for basketball in the NCAA, a group of teams from Lincoln, Illinois known as the "Sweet Sixteen"attempted to promote Illinois basketball in times before there was television and national media. Little did they know, basketball fever was already on the rise.
Fast forward to March 17th 1939: the NCAA held its very first Division 1 men’s basketball tournament, which is known as March Madness today. The first tournament consisted of eight teams. After these games, the two remaining teams, The University of Oregon and Ohio State University, played the final round at Northwestern University's campus in Evanston, Illinois. Oregon defeated Ohio State 46–33 on March 27th, 1939.
Today’s version of March Madness is very different from the early days of the NCAA. One example of this is “The Happening,” a thrilling contest featuring the country's best three-point shooters and is now an extra part of these tournaments. The team count was also raised. In earlier times there were about eight teams competing in the tournament. In 1951, the number of teams was raised to 16, and 34 years later it was increased to 64. As of November 2021 the number consisted of 68 teams. March Madness has a major influence on basketball around the world and nearly 700,000 fans go to watch the basketball tournament every year. Basketball is already a very popular sport in the United States, but there is much more in store for the future as the game becomes more popular every year.
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