Basketball is a major sport in U.S. colleges. Postseason tournaments, first the National Invitation Tournament (begun 1938) and then the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships (begun 1939), soon attracted enough attention to fill large arenas like New York's Madison Square Garden. Point-shaving and game-fixing scandals unsettled college basketball in both 1950–51 and 1961, but did not diminish fan loyalty for extended periods.
The NCAA championship tournament, once secondary to the NIT, grew enormously from the 1960s into the 1990s. Large live audiences, national television coverage, and competitive parity have helped to make the NCAA's "March Madness" and Final Four (the semifinal and final rounds of the tournament) one of the most popular of all U.S. sporting events.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.