The 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is upon us, and while picking the perfect bracket is all but impossible, winning a March Madness trivia contest at the local bar only requires some studying.
Some questions will be obvious: Which school has won the most titles? (UCLA - 11); Which school won the first tournament? (Oregon); Which school has the most NCAA tournament appearances? (Kentucky - 53). But others will require a bit more finesse to win the crown of March Madness trivia champion.
Here are 15 facts about the NCAA tournament that you might not have known:
The first NCAA tournament game was Villanova vs. Brown in 1939.
March Madness was born on March 17, 1939 but the original tournament’s atmosphere was a far cry from the spectacle of today’s games. Villanova University won 42-30 but lost in the Final Four, which was just the second round of the original 8-team bracket. The national championship game was played at a 1,000-seat gymnasium in Evanston, Illinois.
Kansas City, Missouri has hosted more Final Fours than any other city.
Less than an hour from the University of Kansas — where Dr. James Naismith, basketball's inventor, coached — Kansas City is an appropriate location for the most Final Fours to have been situated. In total, Kansas City has hosted the tournament’s final rounds 10 times, most recently in 1988.
A total of 96 NCAA tournament wins have been vacated due to rules violations.
This is a record the NCAA doesn’t use as a point of pride but in total, 35 different programs have had NCAA tournament appearances wiped from the history books because of various rules violations. In total, 96 March Madness wins and 11 Final Four appearances have been erased.
The most lopsided championship game was in 1990, when UNLV beat Duke 103-73.
The 1990 University of Nevada, Las Vegas men’s basketball team was arguably the most fun to watch in tournament history. The squad set myriad offensive records during its run to a championship, beating Duke by 30 points, the widest margin ever in a championship game. The Runnin’ Rebels’ 103 points also stands as the most scored by any team in championship game history.
Duke holds the highest tournament winning percentage of any program.
In its vaunted history, the Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball team has won four NCAA titles and, according to statistics, has won tournament games more often than any other school. Since 1955, Duke’s record is 99-34 in 133 March Madness games, totalling a .744 winning percentage.
University of North Carolina has been a No. 1 seed more times than any other school.
Duke may have the best overall winning percentage in the tournament but its chief rivals, the North Carolina Tar Heels, have the distinction of being the most often-hyped team in tournament history. Each year, four teams are named No. 1 seeds, meaning they have the easiest route to a national championship based on their play during the regular season. North Carolina has entered the tournament as a top seed on 14 occasions, most recently in 2012.
The rivalry between "Magic" Johnson and Larry Bird helped make the 1979 championship game the most-watched game ever.
The 1979 championship game between Michigan State and Indiana State is the highest-rated televised tournament game in history.
Today, the NCAA tournament is a ratings bonanza broadcasting 67 games across four television networks. That’s all thanks to the 1979 championship game and its star players, two young men named Larry Bird and Earvin “Magic” Johnson. The intense rivalry between the two wunderkinds was so magnetic that 38 percent of all American TVs on during the game were tuned in. The game’s 24.1 rating is still unmatched in college basketball history.
Kentucky vs. Marquette is the most frequent NCAA tournament matchup.
Hundreds of universities have participated in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament since its inception but of all those competing teams, Kentucky and Marquette are the most familiar March Madness foes. The two schools have met 10 times in the tournament — more often than any other pairing.
No. 8 seed Villanova in 1985 is the lowest-seeded team to ever win the tournament.
In 1985, the Villanova Wildcats basketball team entered the NCAA tournament with an 11-8 record in their own conference. They were named a No. 8 seed in the bracket and went on the win the whole thing. To date, no other eight seeds or lower have claimed the championship.
The 2004 Utah State Aggies only lost three regular season games but didn’t make the tournament.
Of all the teams that have had gripes over not being selected for the NCAA tournament, the 2004 Utah State Aggies perhaps had the most legitimate frustrations. The team finished the regular season at 25-3 — an .893 winning percentage — but weren’t included in the big dance. Since that snub, the program has been invited to the tournament five times.
Texas has had more schools play in the tournament than any other state.
In total, 23 universities from the Lone Star State have played in the NCAA tournament. The only team from the state to ever win the championship was the UTEP Miners in 1966.
UK's title-winning coaches. Clockwise from top left: Adolph Rupp, John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Joe B. Hall, Tubby Smith.
University of Kentucky has the most championship wins under multiple head coaches.
The UK Wildcats have as strong a March Madness history as any program in the nation. Any team can win under the right coach but it proves a winning legacy when a program can win under several different leaders. Five separate coaches have led the Wildcats to titles (the school has won eight total). The first was Adolph Rupp, the most recent was current UK coach John Calipari.
The 1967 UCLA Bruins were the most dominant single team in tournament history.
The UCLA Bruins basketball team won five NCAA championships in the 1960s, including a 1967 title run that is still the most dominant of all time. The team played four games during the 1967 tournament, winning each by an average of 23.75 points. The program would go on to win seven straight championships, starting with this run.
In 1975, Syracuse played the most overtime games in one tournament run.
The 1975 NCAA tournament run by the Syracuse Orange has to go down as the most nail-biting in history. Of the team’s five tournament games that year, three went into overtime. Syracuse eventually lost in the Final Four.
In 1956, Morehead State and Iowa played arguably the most boring game in tournament history.
In what has to be deemed the slowest NCAA tournament game ever played, players from Morehead State and Iowa combined for 105 total free throw attempts in 1956. Mercifully, Iowa eventually won 97-83.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.