Making March Madness

$44.95 $33.71

The Early Years of the NCAA, NIT, and College Basketball Championships, 1922-1951
Chad Carlson
475 pages, 18 images
978-1-68226-033-3 (cloth)
978-1-61075-717-1 (audio)
August 2017


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Throughout the NCAA Tournament’s history, underdogs, Cinderella stories, and upsets have captured the attention and imagination of fans. Making March Madness is the story of this premiere tournament, from its early days in Kansas City, to its move to Madison Square Garden, to its surviving a point-shaving scandal in New York and taking its games to different sites across the country. Chad Carlson’s analysis places college basketball in historical context and connects it to larger issues in sport and American society, providing fresh insights on a host of topics that readers will find interesting, illuminating, and thought provoking.

Read the preface.

Chad Carlson is an associate professor of kinesiology and an assistant men’s basketball coach at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A former college and semiprofessional basketball player, he now teaches and researches selected topics within the fields of sport history, sport philosophy, and sport and religion.

Series Editor’s Preface



Chapter 1
Prolegomena to the Tournaments, 1901–1937

Chapter 2
Genesis of the Kansas City and New York City Tournaments, 1937–1938

Chapter 3
The NABC and the Inaugural NCAA Tournament, 1938–1939

Chapter 4
Toward Sustainability and Financial Solvency, 1939–1940

Chapter 5
Early Peaks and Valleys, 1940–1942

Chapter 6
New York City and True National Championships, 1942–1945

Chapter 7
Postwar Boom, 1946–1950

Chapter 8
The Scandal, Damage Control, and Alternate Options, 1950–1951

New Beginnings, with Leverage, 1952–2005

Appendix A
AAU National Tournament Champions, 1897–1952

Appendix B
Retrospective Polls, 1893–1952

Appendix C
Continuous College Basketball Postseason Tournaments, 1937–1952




“Based on archival material as well as a wealth of other primary and secondary sources, Making March Madness provides an in-depth account of a nearly 30-year period of college men’s basketball postseason championship tournaments. The book focuses primarily on the NCAA and NIT, but includes other, smaller tournaments as well. Writing chronologically, Carlson (Hope College) examines the people, decisions, teams, venues, rules, finances, games, and policies that shaped the growth and decline of postseason tournaments in the first half of the 20th century. The strength of this in-depth coverage, however, is also at times a weakness; the detail tends to get descriptive rather than providing a broader historical or cultural context One exception is Carlson’s excellent discussion of the racial climate in the US and how each tournament dealt with racial exclusion or inclusion within a larger historical context. A highlight of the work is Carlson’s examination of these tournaments
during the war years and the impact WW II had on players, colleges, and the tournaments, such as charity events and teams’ other contributions to the war effort. An engaging read.”
—A. Curtis, Choice Reviews, June 2018
Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.

“Those of us fortunate enough to teach courses on March Madness will appreciate Carlson’s masterful coverage of its origin story, and the foundation it provides for other readings on the evolution of the tournament such as Aram Goudsouzian’s King of the Court or Johnny Smith’s Sons of Westwood. But sport history and even business history courses could make use of a book that writes the unknown history of a very well-known topic. Although the density of the text may not be suitable for lower-level or underprepared college students, upper-level courses and graduate seminars will doubtless engender a lot of conversation if they choose to assign Making March Madness.”
—Andrew R.M. Smith, Sport in American History, January 2018

“Chad Carlson offers a well-written and entertaining addition to the tomes on the rise of college basketball to become today’s ‘March Madness.’ He chronicles from the beginnings of the game to the 1951 point-shaving scandals that rocked the nation’s embrace of college basketball. … Scholars of the timespan covered, sports historians, basketball coaches, and those interested in the development of sports management as a profession—as well as fans—will benefit from Carlson’s enlightening work.”
—Paul M. McInerny, Journal of Sport History, Fall 2018

“Chad Carlson’s entertaining and insightful story captures the drama of college basketball’s evolution from a regional sport to a national phenomenon. An essential read for sports historians and basketball fans.”
Johnny Smith, author of The Sons of Westwood: John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball

“Informative and enjoyable … will be of use to scholars and aficionados alike.”
Murry Nelson, author of Big Ten Basketball, 1943–1972

Sport, Culture, and Society is a series from the University of Arkansas Press that publishes monographs and collections for academics and general readers in the humanities and social sciences. Its focus is the role of sport in the development of community and the forging of individual, local, regional, and national identities.

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