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NCAAB - National Collegiate Athletic Association Basketball
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Tyndall named head coach at Southern Miss
Hattiesburg, MS (Sports Network) - Former Morehead State head coach Donnie Tynda...
Since the first college hoops game was played in the late 19th century, the sport has come a very long way. Today, college basketball is enjoyed by many passionate fans from all over the nation. Each March, the NCAA Basketball Tournament serves as arguably the biggest sports event of the entire year. While there have been some scandals and controversies over the years, college basketball should remain at or near the top of the sports landscape for many seasons to come.
In 1891, some physical educators in Springfield, Massachusetts were looking to develop a game that could be played indoors during the cold winter months. Dr. James Naismith, a teacher at the local YMCA, was asked to come up with a unique game that would be suitable for the indoors. He came up with 13 basic rules for a game that featured a soccer ball and two peach baskets. The initial concept had enough promise to gain a following over the next couple of years. In 1893, the first college basketball game was played in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The contest featured Geneva College and the New Brighton YMCA. Geneva won the game by a final score of 3-0.
In 1901, several colleges began to sponsor games on a regular basis. A few years later, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was formed. Over the next two decades, college basketball would slowly evolve. In the late thirties, an idea was conceived that would eventually lead college hoops to its greatest heights.
The arrival of the NCAA Tournament
In 1939, the first NCAA Basketball Tournament was held. While it is hard to imagine now, the early days of "March Madness" didn't generate much fanfare. For the first decade of the tourney, only eight teams were able to qualify for the event. From the mid-fifties to mid-seventies, the field expanded to just over 20 teams. In this period, the tournament began to gain a little momentum.
The growth of television enabled fans to see some of the top games in the tournament each year. By the end of the seventies, the NCAA field had been expanded to 40 teams. Since then, college basketball has never looked back. Over the last three decades, the "March Madness" concept has been in full swing. Since the early eighties, the entire tournament has been televised.
From the opening four days of the tournament to the Final Four, fans from all across the country are transfixed by the constant action of the event. With more than 60 teams in the field since the mid-eighties, there are opportunities for schools from small conferences as well as the national powerhouses.
Legends of the game
There have been a number of outstanding coaches and players that have laid the foundation for the growth of college basketball since the NCAA Tournament was formed more than seven decades ago. In the fifties, center Bill Russell won a pair of NCAA titles with the San Francisco Dons. He would go on to capture 11 more championships in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. In the sixties, the UCLA Bruins would begin one of the most amazing runs in the history of sports under head coach John Wooden. From 1964-75, UCLA won an incredible total of ten NCAA championships. Two of the greatest players in the history of college basketball led the Bruins to half of those titles. In the late sixties, center Lew Alcindor paced UCLA to three consecutive championships. In 1972-73, another elite big man carried the school to greatness. Bill Walton was the key performer in back-to-back titles for the Bruins.
In 1979, a historic NCAA championship matchup featured Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans against Larry Bird's Indiana State Sycamores. In the contest, Johnson and the Spartans came out on top. The two college superstars would go on to become NBA rivals over the next decade for the Los Angeles Lakers (Johnson) and Celtics (Bird). In the last three decades, future NBA stars such as Michael Jordan and Carmello Anthony have led clubs to NCAA championships. Along with UCLA, the Kentucky Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels have been a couple of the other dominant programs in the history of college hoops. Legendary head coaches Adolph Rupp (Kentucky) and Dean Smith (North Carolina) are among the most successful coaches of all-time.
In the early fifties, college basketball was rocked by some major point shaving scandals. While there have been some occasional point shaving scandals since then, there have been some more pressing issues in the sport to deal with. With so much money involved in today's college basketball, the game has had to whether its share of recruiting scandals over the years. While the scandals do generate plenty of headlines, the popularity of college basketball is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.