So by now your have heard these terms thousands of times. March Madness, Big Dance, Sweet 16, Elite 8. All come up every time a game is played in the NCAA men's and women's tournaments. Thanks to ILLINOIS for most of those nicknames. As a kid I didn't care a lick about the college or pro game. I was glued to high schools on a little black and white tv we got when I was 12. The Illinois High School Assn. had over 900 schools in a single elimination deal that ended at Huff Gym on the campus of U.OF ILLINOIS. Nothing was better. No classifications in those days. Your school might have 12 kids and your opponent 2,000. The tourney set up at U. OF I would have 16 teams, thus "Sweet 16" They cut it to 8 in the 70's and it became the "Elite 8."
The term "March Madness" came from the Executive Director of the IHSA, Henry Porter. He started calling it that in 1939. In 1975 the term became the official slogan of the state tourney. A guy named Musburger used it for the first time in the college tourney in 1982. We are now in the "Sweet 16" portion of the current tourney and let's credit Kentucky as the first state to use that expression.
We will host the FINAL FOUR here in Houston and you have a Cleveland sportswriter to credit for that handle. As for BIG DANCE? None of the hoops history buffs can nail that one down. THE NCAA trade marked that term in 2000. I had some part in all of this by calling the INDIANA H.S. Tourney on TV for 5 years while working in Indianapolis. I also did the play by play of the FIRST EVER GIRLS tourney on TV. My analyst was a local H.S. COACH who dazzled us with the following. She told a 3 state audience early in the 3rd QTR. of the game "The line in the ladies room was brutal". You don't get incite like that from today's experts.