NCAA Basketball History

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NCAA basketball history is is entwined with NCAA football history since the governing organization for both sports was created in response to concern about violent injuries (even deaths) on the college football gridiron. Without the outrage (even by President Teddy Roosevelt) over injuries in college football, we never would have had an NCAA -- or at least not so soon.

So, college b-ball began in 1906 as the first organization was created to handle govern collegiate basketball teams. College basketball was growing in popularity and some sort of organization was needed to establish and enforce eligibility, rules and regulations.  This was the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States or the IAAUS. This association was created to govern the rules and eligibility for all college athletics, not just basketball. Four years later in 1910, the organization changed its name and became the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA that we know today.

The first NCAA basketball tournament was held in 1939 and included eight teams. Eventually this tournament grew to include 65 teams. Tournaments and championships are important to the NCAA and the sport of basketball, because they allow for dominant basketball colleges to emerge and put the best college players in the spotlight for the possibility of going on to join the NBA. Most NBA teams draft players directly from their college teams. This means that often the players already have a fan base, which will transfer the team that they play for professionally, a benefit to both the player and the team.

Villanova defeats Pittsburgh, 78-76, in the Elite 8 of the 2009 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 28, 2009.
Villanova defeats Pittsburgh, 78-76, in the Elite 8 of the 2009 NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 28, 2009. Thanks to yourFAVORITEmartian at for the picture.

For the first 40 years of college tournament basketball. The NCAA and NIT vied for dominance. The NIT tournament was sponsored by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association beginning in 1938. Up until the 70s, both of these championships and tournaments were accepted as being the best. Any player on a team that won these championships was one to be considered. By the late 70s, the NCAA tournament had become the number one college basketball tournament over the NIT tournaments. This gave the NCAA dominance over the sport of college basketball.

Some of the early powerhouse schools in NCAA basketball history are the University of Indiana, University of North Carolina, Duke University and Kansas University. These schools still dominate college basketball today.

2008 NCAA Final Four.
2008 NCAA Final Four.
Thanks to Beau B at for the picture.

By the late 1980s, intercollegiate basketball was one of the top sports in the nation. The rapid growth of the NBA had led to increased interest in intercollegiate basketball games and many of the NBA stars were recruited directly from college. This meant that being on a team that was a member of the NCAA gave a player more of an opportunity to pursue basketball as a career.

The NCAA's membership is divided into three legislative and competitive divisions, and not only handles college football, women's basketball many other field and track sports, but also college men's basketball. The NCAA offers the athletic programs an extensive governance plan, services and athlete representation. The NCAA is based in Indianapolis Indiana, has a staff of more than 380 employees and is led by the president Myles Brand, who assumed the position in 2003 after being president of Indiana University. The goal of the NCAA is to represent student athletes, no matter which sport they may play or participate in.

Florida's Joakim Noah reacts.
Florida's Joakim Noah reacts during the second half of their NCAA Regional final basketball game against Villanova in Minneapolis, Sunday, March 26, 2006.
Thanks to HalfCrazyGirl at for the picture.

NCAA basketball (particularly "March Madness") is today one of the most watched sports on television, and also a great starting point for the student athletes who love the sport to go on and become professional basketball players in the NBA.

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