2021 NCAA Tournament Facts
Ladies and Gentlemen, the bracket has been set for the 2021 NCAA tournament. Now is the time to get to work on your bracket and start researching different trends, KenPom ratings, backcourt and frontcourt matchups, and anything else you think will have an effect on the outcome of all 67 games starting on March 18 with the First Four and ending on April 5 with the National Championship Game.
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Before we get to tip-off, I thought it would be a great idea to let you in on some tournament facts that you may not have known. Hopefully, these obscure tidbits of information can give you the upper hand at socially distanced watch parties you may attend with your buddies, or just for your own personal knowledge.
NCAA Tournament Facts:
March Madness: The term “March Madness” was first said in 1982 by Brent Musburger. It perfectly describes the NCAA Tournament because it truly is madness. In a normal year, (pre-COVID) you’d have non-stop basketball from Noon to midnight on the first four days of the tournament (Thursday-Sunday). March Madness brings us the madness we crave each and every day, and that’s drama, buzzer-beaters, upsets, insane plays, and great calls from great commentators. It truly is Madness.
However, that term was the center of a legal battle in 1996. The NCAA went head-to-head with the Illinois High School Basketball Championship, which had been using the term since 1939. The courts decided to grant each party their own rights to use the saying in a “highly-unusual dual-use trademark”.
A Perfect Bracket: The minute the bracket is finalized on Selection Sunday, the thought of putting together a perfect bracket creeps into our minds. We know it’s damn near impossible to do, but we don’t stop ourselves from dreaming about it. The odds of putting together a perfect bracket and picking all 67 games right is one in 9.2 quintillion. Yes, quintillion. That’s a nine with 18 (!) zeros behind it. Nobody has ever put together the perfect bracket. If someone was offering you $100 million dollars to put together a bracket that was perfect (hell, even if they gave you the chance to have one or two wrong and still win), they’d still be making a great bet. To put it into perspective, if you filled out a bracket every second, and never took any breaks, you would have every combination taken care of in just 4.7 million years. So, you'd better get started -- the tournament is about to start.
A Costly Tournament: In a normal year when people were actually going to the office and working on location, the tournament was always a talking point around the watercooler. There is always someone running a March Madness Bracket pool, and there is always a lady from HR that wins the pool because she picks teams based on which place is nicer to visit. A study was done by Wallethub, and it estimates that corporate workplaces lose $1.9 billion as a result of a lack of productivity that is brought on by the tournament.
Wire-to-Wire: The No. 1 overall seed in this year’s tournament is the Gonzaga Bulldogs. They ended the regular season with a 26-0 record and will try to become just the first unbeaten National Champion since Indiana did it in 1976. Gonzaga also became the first team to go wire-to-wire in the AP Poll since Kentucky turned the trick in the 2014-15 season.
Kings of March: It’s one thing to make the Final Four and give yourself a chance to compete for the National Championship, but it’s another thing to win the whole thing. North Carolina leads the way with 20 Final Four Appearances. They are trailed by UCLA and Kentucky, who both have 17 appearances each. However, UCLA holds the record for most National Championships with 11, leading the aforementioned Kentucky (eight) and North Carolina (six). UCLA’s last title came in 1995, so it’s been a little while since they tasted glory.
M.I.A from March: The longest drought in NCAA history of not making the March Madness tournament belongs to the smart kids over in the Ivy League. Harvard had not made the tournament for 66 years before finally ending the drought in 2012. Dartmouth holds the current drought record at 59 years and counting.
And speaking of a really long time to not participate in the tournament, this year’s edition of March Madness will be the first tournament played without the likes of Duke or Kentucky in the field. The last time both teams missed out on the tournament was way back in 1976, some 45 years ago. That’s an absurd stat.
If You Ain’t First, You’re Last: In 2019, we had three No. 1 seeds reach the Elite Eight portion of the tournament. However, only one of them came through with a victory, and that was the No. 1 overall seed Virginia Cavaliers. They went on to win the tournament and add to the incredible run of at least one top seed making the Final Four in 33 of 35 tournaments. Virginia also became the 22nd No. 1 seed to win the tournament in the last 35 years. The crazy thing about No. 1 seeds is that no matter how good they are, only one time in the tournament’s history have all four No. 1 seeds made the Final Four, and that was back in 2008. In fact, the Final Four has been contested without a No. 1 seed three times, and has happened as recently as 2011.
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