March Madness, that is, as Thursday marks the start of one of America’s favorite sports traditions: more formally known as the NCAA Men’s Division 1 Basketball Championship.
Each year, 68 teams enter the single-elimination tournament to crown college basketball’s champion. With match-ups played from coast to coast, spanning three weeks, and with some days featuring as many as 12 straight hours of simultaneous games, it’s a hoops lover’s dream come true.
At Guinness World Records, it’s no different, despite one very important point. Due to the fact that the NCAA operates an entirely amateur competition, any records stemming from competitive achievement within the college game are not eligible for Guinness World Records feats. This is to allow a standardizable measuring stick to be used for performance-related records in all sports, by only measuring those which happen at a professional or pre-eminent amateur (i.e. Olympics) level.
Still, basketball at the collegiate level acts as both crystal ball and incubator. It is during March Madness that many players forge their legends and carve paths to eventual record-breaking greatness as professionals. These next few weeks will offer a glimpse of future stars and the potential they hold, a phenomenon we have witnessed for generations.
Take, for example, Michael Jordan. “His Airness” celebrated his 50th birthday last month, which offered an opportunity to look back at his record-breaking career. We probably should have known good things were coming when Jordan, as a freshman, hit this now-iconic game-winning shot over Georgetown to win North Carolina the 1982 title.