The NCAA Division 1 Basketball is a men's tournament held every spring in the United States. It features 68 college basketball teams from Division 1 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NCAA tournament is held to determine the national Championship. This Tournament was founded by the National Association of Basketball Coaches in 1939. It is mostly played during March, a factor that has made it adopt NCAA March Madness's name. Its birth is credited to Harold Olsen, a coach from Ohio State who idealized on its formation.

Participants in this Tournament are made of; thirty-two teams from Division 1 conference upon receiving automatic bids (winning in their Conferences). The 32 two groups are joined by 36 others, awarded at-large berths. NCAA selection committee is mandated to choose the “at-large” teams. An announcement of the thirty-six teams selected by the committee is made on a televised event. 

All the 68 teams are categorized into four regions then organized in a way that leads to the elimination of the losing side while at the same time determining which team to face, which upon qualifying to the next round. Upon qualifying on the first play, the qualifiers join the round of 32 on proceeding from this stage the teams move to the round of 16, then the elite eight, the final four and later on the finals where two sides meet to determine the Champion.

The 2019/2020 season for NCAA ended prematurely due to the Covid-19 pandemic; however, the concerned authorities are optimistic that the 2020/21 season may kick off on 10th November though a final decision will be reached out in September of 2020.The pandemic has also led to postponement of NBA draft 2020 which was to take place on 19th May 2020. To be, precise Division 1 college basketball has a total of 353 teams.

353 Total NCAA Division 1 Basketball Teams.

This number itself speaks volumes on how competitive the Tournament is. How do these 353 teams play to determine the Champion?

The 353 teams are grouped into 32 conferences, whereby each accommodates up to an average of 11 participants. The team that emerges as a champion in each Conference automatically wins a slot to play at NCAA Division 1 Basketball. In contrast, some other teams are honored to participate in the NCAA Championship showpiece based on their performance record at the end of the season.

The NCAA first season can be traced back to 1924 when it had only eight conferences. However, the number continued to grow since then. For instance, at the start of 1930, NCAA had nine conferences which were; Big Six, Big Ten, Independent, Ivy League, Missouri Valley, Mountain States, Mountain States Athletic, Pacific Coast, Southern, and Southwest.

However, at the start of 1940, NCAA registered 11 conferences. The next decade the number rose by six. In 1980 they went to 29 and 34 in 1990. At the start of 2000, they went down to 32 before rising to 33 by 2010. To date, the number stands at 32.

The 32 Conferences in the NCAA Division 1 Basketball are the following; American East, Western Athletic, West Coast, South-Western Athletic, Summit league, Sun Belt, Southland, Southern, Pac-12, Patriot League, Ohio Valley, Northeast, Ivy League, Mountain West, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Missouri Valley, Mid-American, Mid-Eastern Athletic.

The other Conferences are; American Athletic, Horizon League, Conference USA, Atlantic 10, Colonial Athletic Association, Atlantic Coast, Atlantic Sun, Big West, Big Ten, Big 12, Big South, Big Sky, and Big East.

What makes the NCAA Division 1 Basketball an exciting tournament is that all 353 teams from the 32 Conferences have equal chances of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament at the start of every year. Although a team may not top in a given conference to earn a direct qualification to NCAA Tournament, they may find themselves in through a decision by the NCAA Selection Committee. Each Conference crowns a Champion in each season, who automatically qualifies to the NCAA Tournament.

Here are all the Conferences each showing their 2018-2019 Champions:

America East Conference. This Conference is located in the Best seed arena; it has played since 1980. Vermont Catamounts were their Champions. They represent the University of Vermont. They have competed in the NCAA Division 1 men’s Basketball Tournament for six years. 

America Conference. The Champions in this Conference were the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Bearcats represent the University of Cincinnati in Ohio State. Their achievements include; two national titles, six final fours, and 33 NCAA Division1 Men's Basketball Tournament participations.

Atlantic 10. This Conferences trophy was won by Saint Louis Billikens, who represent Saint Louis University. Their most significant achievement was winning the NIT Tournament in 1948. They have been featured in NCAA Tournament ten times.

ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference). The title for ACC Conference went to the Duke Blue Devils who represents Duke University in NCAA Division 1 college basketball. They have won five NCAA Champions making them the fourth team to win many NCAA Championships. They have secured the Atlantic Coast Championship twenty-one times. It has seventy-one players to ever been selected in the NBA Draft.

Atlantic Sun. The winners of 2018/2019 in this Conference were Liberty Flames, who Represents Liberty university. They have appeared five times in NCAA Division 1.

Big South. The Champions for this Conference during the season of 2018/2019 were Gardner-Webb Rennin' Bulldogs, who represents Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. They have only made one NCAA appearance, which was in 2019, upon winning the Big South Conference trophy.

Big 12 Conference. The winners of this Conference were Iowa State Cyclones. The Cyclones represents Iowa State University (ISU). They have won fourteen Championships in both Big 8 and Big 12 Conferences.

Big East Conference. The Championship in this Conference was crowned to Villanova Wildcats. The Wildcats represent the University of Villanova. They have won Championship in1985, 2016 and 2018. They have made 39 appearances in NCAA Tournament and have been the Champions of Big East Conference regular-season eight times. They have won Philadelphia Big Five 27 times and have taken part in the National Invitation Tournament seventeen times.

Big Sky Conference. Montana Grizzlies were the Champions in this Conference. The Grizzlies are the college men’s basketball representatives for Montana University. Their home playground is at Dahlberg Arena, and they take part in NCAA Division 1 Level.

Big 10 Conference. The Conference Champion winners for Big 10 were Michigan State Spartans, the men’s basketball representatives for the Michigan State University. They have won the NCAA Championships twice and the Big Ten Conference sixteen times. Their 1979 college basketball game went to the historical record as the most-watched game in college basketball. The Spartans have been featured in 33 NCAA tournaments.

Big West Conference. The Winners of this Conference were UC Irvine Anteaters, representing the University of California in college men’s basketball. Their arch-rival in the Big West Conference are 49ers and Long Beach State.

Colonial Conference. Northeastern University representatives in men’s college basketball (Northeastern Huskies) were the Champions. The Huskies have competed in this Conference since 2005 winning two tournament titles and having won seven titles from America East Conference. The Huskies play their home matches at Mathews Arena, which is in Boston, Massachusetts. Their current head coach is Bill Cohen, who by the time they won the 2018/2019 championship was in his 14h season as the team head coach.

Conference USA. This Conference Championship went to Old Dominion Monarchs. The Monarchs are NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball representatives of Old Dominion Monarchs University. In 1975 they won Division two Championship and Postseason Tournament Championship in 2009. They also triumphed over the Championship of Inaugural Vegas 16 of 2016.

Horizon League. The 2018/19 Champions of this Conference were Northern Kentucky Norse, who represents Northern Kentucky University. They joined NCAA Division 1 as members of the Atlantic Sun Conference before moving to their current Conference (Horizon League) during the season of 2015/16.

Ivy League Conference. The Conference winners for the 2018/19 season Championship were Yale Bulldogs, who represents the University of Yale. The Bulldogs have appeared in NCAA Tournament five times. They have been Conference regular-season champions for sixteen times, lastly being 2020.

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).The winners of this Conference were the Iona Gaels, who are the representatives of Iona College in NCAA Division 1 men's basketball. The Iona Gaels have made 14 appearances in NCAA Tournament, with their best performance of the Tournament being reaching the round of 32 in 1980.

Mid-American Conference. This Conference's title was won by Buffalo Bulls, representing the University of Buffalo, which is found in New York. The Bulls have made four NCAA Tournament appearances with their best performance being getting to the Tournament's round of 32 in 2018 and 2019. 

MEAC. North Carolina Central Eagles were the 2018/19 champions in this Conference. The Eagles represent North Carolina Central University in NACC Division 1 men’s basketball. They have made eleven appearances in NCAA Tournament both in Division 1 and 2.out of the  11 appearances they have qualified for NCAA Tournament sweet sixteen twice, Tournament Elite Eight twice, NCAA final four once and  NCAA Champions once.

Missouri Valley. Bradley Braves were the Champions. They represent Bradley University in NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball. They have made 9 NCAA Tournament appearances. There greatest achievement in the Tournament was, featuring in the runner-ups of1950 and 1954.

Mountain West. Utah State Aggies won the Championship in this Conference. They represent Utah State University. They have made 21 appearances in NCAA Tournament with their most significant achievement in the Tournament being getting to NCAA Tournament Elite Eight level in 1939 and1970.

Northeast Conference. The Championship of this Conference was won by Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, representing the University of Fairleigh Dickinson in the NCAA Division 1 competition. They have been featured in 6 NCAA Tournament, but they have no significant achievement in it. 

Ohio Valley. Murray State Racers were crowned the Championship in this Conference. The Racers represents Murray State University in NCAA Division 1 men's basketball. They have made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances and have managed to reach the Tournament's round of 32, six times.

Pac 12 Conference. Oregon Ducks were the Champions in this Conference. The Ducks represents the University of Oregon in the NCAA basketball competition. They have made 16 appearances in NCAA Tournament. They have won the NCAA Championship twice that is in1939 and 2017.

Patriot League. This Conferences Championship was crowned to Colgate Raiders, who represents Colgate University in NCAA Division 1 competitions. The raiders have made three appearances in NCAA Tournament but have not yet made a significant achievement.

Southeastern Conference. The Champions in this Conference were Auburn Tigers, who represents Auburn University. They have been featured in NCAA Tournament 10 times, with their most significant achievement being getting to tournaments final four in 2019.

Southern Conference. Afford Terriers won the Championship in this Conference. The Terriers represents Wofford College in NCAA Division 1 competitions. They have been featured in NCAA Tournament five times, with the highest achievement being reaching the round of 32 in 2019.

Southland Conference. Abilene Christian Wildcats were the Champions in the Conference for the 2018/19 season. The Wildcats represent Abilene Christian University in NCAA Division 1 competition. They have made ten NCAA tournament appearances in both division 1 and 2.

Southwestern Conference. This Conferences Championship was crowned to Prairie View A&M Panthers, who represents the Prairie View A&M University. The Panthers have managed only two appearances in NCAA Tournament in 1998 and 2019.

Summit League. North Dakota State Bison were the Champions in this Conference, they represent North Dakota State University. They are the Champions of the 2020 Summit League Tournament upon defeating Denver Oral Roberts, thus earning the automatic bid to NACC Tournament, which unfortunately has not been held in 2020 due to COVID -19 pandemic.

Sun Belt. The Championship in this Conference was won by Georgia State Panthers, who represents Georgia State University. The Panthers have made five appearances in NCAA Tournament, with their most significant achievement is getting to the Tournaments round of 32 in 2001 and 2015.

West Coast. Saint Mary's Gaels were the Championships of this Conference in the 2018/19 season. They represent Saint Mary’s College in the NCAA Division 1 competitions. They have attained ten appearances in NCAA Tournament with their most significant achievement in the Tournament being reaching the Elite Eight level in 1959.

Western Athletic Conference (WAC).New Mexico State Aggies were the Champions of this Conference. The Aggies represent New Mexico State University in NCAA Division 1 men's basketball competition. They have featured 25 times in NCAA Tournament out of which they have managed to get to the Tournaments round of 16 five times, Elite Eight and Final Four once in 1970.

The bottom line

Having over 350 teams competing for only 68 slots in NCAA Tournament requires a lot of sacrifices and much commitment for a team in need to take part in this great Tournament. It is even more tasking duty to advance from one level of the NCAA Tournament to another. Since this Tournament began, it has had a few teams in different Conferences to win the Tournaments title. For those who have earned it, they must have committed themselves to attain such a golden moment in history. It is worth to note that NBA News and Rumors has it that one of basketball player of all time LeBron James will be campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Again due to COVID 19 Pandemic which has greatly affected sporting activities in the whole world NBA Live 20 will not happen.

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