The tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen. Played mostly during March, it has one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States. The tournament teams include champions from 32 Division I conferences, and 36 teams which are awarded at-large berths, the 68 teams are divided into four regions and organized into a single-elimination bracket, which pre-determines, when a team wins a game, which team it will face next. Each team is seeded, or ranked, within its region from 1 to 32, after an initial four games between eight lower-ranked teams, the tournament occurs during the course of three weekends, at pre-selected neutral sites across the United States. The Final Four is usually played during the first weekend of April and these four teams, one from each region, compete in a pre-selected location for the national championship. The tournament has been at least partially televised since 1969, currently, the games are broadcast by CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV under the trade-name NCAA March Madness. Since 2011, all games are available for viewing nationwide and internationally, such as in the Philippines, as television coverage has grown, so too has the tournaments popularity. Currently, millions of Americans fill out a bracket, attempting to predict the outcome of all 67 games of the tournament. With 11 national titles, UCLA has the record for the most NCAA Mens Division I Basketball Championships, the University of Kentucky is second, with eight national titles. The University of North Carolina is in place, with six titles, while Duke University. The University of Connecticut is sixth with four national titles, the University of Kansas and University of Louisville are tied with three championships. During that time Villanova, Michigan, UNLV, Duke, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Syracuse, the NCAA has changed the tournament format several times since its inception, most often representing an increase of the number of teams. This section describes the tournament as it has operated since 2011, for changes during the course of its history, and to see how the tournament operated during past years, go to Format history, below. A total of 68 teams qualify for the tournament played during March, thirty-two teams earn automatic bids as their respective conference champions. Of the 32 Division I all-sports conferences, all 32 currently hold championship tournaments to determine which team receives the automatic qualification. The Ivy League was the last Division I conference that did not conduct a tournament, through the 2015–16 season, if two or more Ivies shared a regular-season championship, a one-game playoff was used to decide the tournament participant. Since 2017, the league conducts their own postseason tournament, the committee also determines where all sixty-eight teams are seeded and placed in the bracket. The tournament is divided into four regions and each region has at least sixteen teams, the committee is charged with making each of the four regions as close as possible in overall quality of teams from wherever they come from
Image: NCAA March Madness logo 2016
A ticket from the 1988 tournament held in Kansas City, Missouri
The University of Dayton Arena, which has hosted all First Four games since the round's inception in 2011, as well as its precursor, the single "play-in" game held from 2001 to 2010. As of 2017, the arena has hosted 115 tournament games, the most of any venue.
The 2017 NCAA Final Four in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale