The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, better known as March Madness, dates back to 1939, but the current tournament bears little resemblance to previous installments. March Madness has undergone numerous changes since then, and each year the excitement and anticipation seems to grow leading up to the Final Four (otherwise known as the semifinals) and the crowning of the national champion. Perennial favorites include UCLA (with 11 championships, the most of any school), Kentucky (with 7), Indiana (with 5), North Carolina (with 4), and Duke and Kansas (with 3 each). In short, March Madness is a fitting name for this tournament, as it is one of the most watched and wagered-on annual sporting events in the United States.

In honor of the current tourney, we present 5 things you didn’t know about March Madness.

1- March Madness bracket odds are over 9-quintillion-to-1

The first thing you didn’t know about March Madness is that the odds of you picking a perfect March Madness bracket are not just horrible, they’re almost impossibly bad. You have a substantially better shot at winning the Powerball than you do at picking a perfect bracket.

There are a total of 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket outcomes, making the odds of a perfect bracket over 9.2-quintillion-to-1. In fact, the odds are so bad that, according to RJ Bell at, if every individual alive in the world completed a bracket, the odds are a billion-to-one against any of them being perfect.

2- March Madness winners keep the winning court

We’re all familiar with the shot of the winning coach snipping the net from the rim; it’s a symbolic moment that caps off March Madness, and up until 1986 it was really all the NCAA allowed the team to keep.

As of 1986, however, teams have been given the actual hardwood court they won the championship on, and they are free to do with it as they see fit. Some schools have repainted it and used the hardwood for their own home court, while others have sold the court in pieces, and others have done nothing at all with it.

3- $2.5 billion is illegally bet on March Madness each year

Another thing you didn’t know about March Madness is how much is bet illegally on the tournament each year. The FBI puts this figure at around $2.5 billion, with just a small percentage of this amount taking place in the betting capital of the world, Las Vegas.

There are a few more things you didn’t know about March Madness coming up after the break…

One in 10 Americans play March Madness brackets, whether online, among an office pool or just a group of friends and associates, and fans eagerly anticipate those brackets. Nationwide, it’s a massive annual betting event, among the biggest in the nation.

4- The NCAA does not profit from March Madness

March Madness is an event worth billions of dollars in revenue thanks to a hefty television broadcast contract, but in lieu of its own revenue distribution plan, the NCAA does not keep the profits; rather, they are distributed among the schools and conferences playing in the tournament.

A fraction (one-sixth) of the revenue goes toward participating schools based on how many Division I sports teams they field; another fraction (one-third) is doled out to participating schools based on the number of scholarships they hand out; and, finally, a full one-half of the entire revenue generated goes to the conferences based on their performance in the previous six NCAA men’s basketball tournaments.

5- No. 16 seeds are a March Madness lost cause

Finally, the last thing you didn’t know about March Madness is the utter futility of the No. 16 seed. Since the NCAA expanded the tournament to 64 teams, No. 16 seeds have a despairing record of 0-for-96. Assuming this trend continues in 2009, those seeds will be an even 0-for-100. To make matters worse, far more often than not these seeds lose by more than 10 points.

The closest a No. 16 seed has ever come to beating a No. 1 seed occurred in 1990, when unknown Kentucky-based Murray State took top-seeded Michigan State into overtime, ultimately losing 75-71.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest