College Basketball History

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Basketball owes its origin to Dr. James Naismith

Basketball owes its origin to Dr. James Naismith, who devised the sport in 1892. But it was not long before the sport caught on in American colleges. The first official game involving a college team was played between the New Brighton YMCA and the Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania on April 8, 1893, while the first intercollegiate game was played on February 9, 1895. This game saw Minnesota State School of Agriculture defeat Hamline College 9-3.

The next major landmark was the introduction of the five-player format. This happened on January 18, 1896 during an intercollegiate game in Iowa City. By the early 1900s, the game had spread to 90 colleges, most of them located in the East and Midwest. This number continued to swell and by 1914 as many as 360 colleges had introduced the game.

In 1915 the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, the NCAA, and the YMCA joined hands to streamline the game, and set up a committee to frame rules. This period also saw the formation of a number of regional conferences.

The first NCAA Men's College Basketball Championship tournament was held in Evanston in 1939, and was cheered by 5,500 basketball fans. It was organized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and was won by University of Oregon. After this, the NCAA took over the national basketball championship tournament.

The year 1940 witnessed the first college game to be aired on television. This game was played between Pittsburgh and Fordham at Madison Square Garden, and ever since then basketball became a national obsession, drawing huge crowds. But there is nothing that beats March Madness, when almost 350 American colleges compete for the NCAA basketball crown. It is the most watched event in the US.

Till 1950, the NCAA tourney had eight teams competing against each other. These teams represented each of the eight NCAA districts. The number of teams was increased to 16 in 1951. In this format, 10 conference champions qualified automatically while the remaining six teams were chosen on the basis of their performance. In 1954, the number of teams went up to 24, and in 1975, a 32-team bracket was adopted. This was increased to 48 in 1980 and to 64 in 1985.

Over the years, college basketball has gone through a remarkable change. There are a number of players who showcase their talent in college basketball, and rise to become stars. There is huge fan following for this game, and most of the NBA stars trace their origins to college basketball.

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