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Very First NCAA Basketball Tournament

John Wooden won 10 national championships while coaching the UCLA Bruins (Getty Images)

College basketball’s NCAA Tournament is down to the Final Four and one of the teams this year was in the very first Final Four.   Ohio State University fell to Oregon 46-33 in the first ever NCAA national championship game.  And that game was played on this date in 1939.

Back then and for the first 12 years of the tournament only eight teams were invited.  From eight teams it doubled to 16 teams in 1951.  It went to 22 teams in 1953 and for 20 years beginning in 1955 it varied from 23 to 25 teams until it expanded again in 1975 to 32 teams and by 1985 it became a field of 64.  In 2001 it went to 65.

The UCLA Bruins have more national championships than any other team.  They’ve won the national title 11 times, 10 of them under coach John Wooden.  Kentucky has seven titles and has a chance to make it eight this year.

The first NCAA women’s tournament was in 1982. It was a 32-team field and expanded to 64 in 1994.  The Tennessee Volunteers women have six national titles.  Connecticut has won five championships.

After the Super Bowl, college basketball’s national tournament is the most-bet on sporting event.

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