Ask Abe: March Madness

An alum

Why do we have March Madness?

Abe

Patient Zero for March Madness is Badger Harold Olsen 1918. If not for him, we wouldn’t be upset that the UW men’s basketball team was bounced out of the NCAA tournament because, if not for him, there would be no NCAA basketball tournament. Olsen was an All-American player for the Badgers as an undergrad, and in 1922, he became head coach for Ohio State, where he led the Buckeyes for 24 years. In 1937, he was named chair of the NCAA’s Basketball Committee, and two years later, he launched the NCAA championship tournament. Until 1950, only eight teams played in the tourney. (The “Final Four” wasn’t such an honor then.) Today, there are 68 teams. The Badgers won their first (and as yet only) NCAA title in 1941.