How did March Madness get its name?


Quick Answer

While the use of the name "March Madness" in reference to American college basketball playoffs dates back to the 1980s, the term was originally used to describe the Illinois state high school basketball tournament. Though many people are familiar with the college playoffs under the March Madness name, this is actually one of several colloquial names for the NCAA basketball tournament.

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How did March Madness get its name?
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Full Answer

The earliest recorded origins of the March Madness name are fairly straightforward. An Illinois High School Association employee named Henry V. Porter is attributed with coining the term "March Madness" when he used it in a professional article in 1939. Whether Porter had heard the phrase somewhere before is not known, but it's clear that he intended to refer to the excitement that surrounds basketball championship games. The more modern usage as a reference to the college playoffs is attributed to CBS broadcaster Brent Musburger, who referred to the NCAA championships as March Madness during a 1982 broadcast.

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