It’s that time of year again when the grass is greening, leaves are sprouting, tornado sirens are wailing, and all are wondering who will be cutting down the nets in college hoops! In 2017, the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four will be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, while the women’s Final Four will be decided at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. A little history: The University of Oregon defeated Ohio State University 46-33 on March 27, 1939 in the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. For the first 12 years of the tourney, only 8 teams were invited to play. Today, 65 teams participate. The 2017 men’s Final Four will begin April 1 with the championship game on Monday, April 3rd.
The most successful team in NCAA men’s history is UCLA, with a record 11 titles, 10 of those under head coach John Wooden. The University of Kentucky is 2nd with 8 banners, followed by Indiana, Duke and North Carolina, each with 5 championships. The NCAA held the first women’s basketball tourney in 1982. The Connecticut Huskies are the most dominant team in the women’s tournament with 11 titles under coach Geno Auriemma. The Tennessee Volunteers are a close second with 8 championships under legendary coach Pat Summitt.
We have Illinois basketball players to thank for the nickname “March Madness.” The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) began a boy’s tournament of 8 teams in March 1908 (Peoria High soundly beat Rock Island 48-29). The actual name “March Madness” probably comes from a 1939 article by IHSA executive secretary Henry V. Porter. In that article, entitled “March Madness,” Porter writes of the fans’ obsession with the thud of the ball on the court and the swish of the ball through the net.
Teachers can use students’ enthusiasm for March Madness in the classroom. Brian Sztabnik, an AP Literature teacher in Miller Place, New York, uses AP Lit March Madness, a method to determine the best work of literature that students have read during the year. Sztabnik has his students create brackets, form committees and vote on books they have read. Here is a link describing Brian’s neat idea: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/march-madness-meets-ap-lit-brian-sztabnik.
So, no matter which team you are rooting for (or against), don’t forget to fill out your brackets, and may the best team win!
NCAA March Madness BONUS
The best mascot in all of sports: Western Kentucky University’s Big Red. (Now you know who I am rooting for!)
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