Why is March Madness so popular?

Why is March Madness so popular?

Photo by Phil Roeder

March Madness opening rounds 2016.

Americans seem to love college sports leagues almost as much as they love the professional leagues. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and college basketball are no exception to this, with the infamous March Madness sending basketball fans everywhere into a three-week frenzy of bracket predictions and final-four parties.

Here, we’ll break down why March Madness is so popular and why it readily captures the attention of basketball fans across America.

What is March Madness?

To start with, let’s look at what March Madness is.

March Madness refers to the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament, which is a single-elimination tournament comprised of 68 college teams, all of whom compete for the win. Lose one match, and you’re out. There are no second chances. No mercy. Just pack up and go home. As you can probably guess, the tournament takes place every year during March.

The first tournament took place all the way back in 1939, and only eight teams competed. Cut to today, and we have 68 teams competing in 67 matches over four rounds. The first round consists of 32 games, which cuts the playing field down to the “Sweet 16” remaining teams for the second round. By the third round, we have the “Elite Eight,” and then in the last weekend, we are left with the “Final Four.” After these four teams play in the semifinals, the two victors play in the national championship game.

College basketball (and March Madness) is by far the most popular college sport in the country. The season regularly attracts over 100 million viewers, and with the short time frame, most of the games air simultaneously. Last year, roughly 73 million people filled out over 170 million brackets, trying to predict how the games would ultimately play out despite the fact that there is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance that someone could pick the winner of all the games correctly, according to Forbes.

Why is it so popular?


The NCAA is by far the most popular college sport in the country.

One of the most attractive elements of the tournament has to be the possibility of seeing a major upset or a “Cinderella story.” That usually refers to any team that manages to exceed all expectations throughout the tournament, knocking out the stronger and better-known teams. This element of unpredictability is what gives March Madness its name and a lot of its appeal.

As a single-elimination tournament, March Madness also carries that extra bit of intensity for teams and fans alike, as a single loss will see a team swiftly booted out of the running. Compare this to the NBA Finals where, with the finals currently underway, we have seen the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors face off over two games thus far. Although both teams have seen favorable odds against early opponents, bookmakers have widely favored the Warriors to come out on top.

Another big reason for the sheer popularity of the tournament is that it happens during a gap in the regular sports season, right between the baseball and football seasons, filling in the void for avid sports fans. In addition to this, with the short space of time it spans and the sheer number of games that take place during the tournament, the basketball games often happen back-to-back and sometimes, even simultaneously. That means that the level of excitement throughout the tournament never lulls, leaving fans hooked and wondering what will happen next.

March Madness 2020!


Every fan as they wait for the next season.

For those of us looking forward to the next season, we may have quite a bit of a wait, but as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. But if you can’t wait, then here’s some information about the upcoming schedule to whet your whistle.

Selection Sunday will take place on March 15, 2020, followed by the “First Four” matches on the 17th and 18th. These will take place in Dayton, Ohio. The first, second and regional rounds will spread out over 12 different locations across the country. However, the “Final Four” will all take place in Atlanta, at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

Every single match will broadcast on TV, and you can find them on TBS, CBS, truTV or TNT as well as streams on the March Madness Live website.

Roll on March Madness!