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Statistics / Record Book > Tournament History > 1939-1969


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The first national collegiate men's basketball tournament was held. For the first 12 years, district playoffs often were held with the winner entering an eight-team field for the championship. The district games were not considered a part of the tournament. The winners of the East and West regionals were the only two teams to advance to the final site.

The National Association of Basketball Coaches held its annual convention at the site of the national finals for the first time. It has been held there ever since.

The championship game was televised locally for the first time in New York City by CBS-TV as Oklahoma State defeated North Carolina, 43-40. The initial viewing audience was estimated to be 500,000.

This was the first time four teams advanced to the final site. With only East and West regionals, the two regional champions played for the national title while the regional runner-ups played for third place.

The field was expanded to 16 teams, with 10 conference champions qualifying automatically for the first time. Those 10 conferences were: Big Seven, Big Ten, Border, Eastern (Ivy), Missouri Valley, Pacific Coast, Skyline, Southeastern, Southern and Southwest.

Tournament games were televised regionally for the first time.

The number of regional sites changed from two to four, with the four winners advancing to the finals.

The bracket expanded from 16 teams to 22 and fluctuated between 22 and 25 teams until 1974.

The Tuesday-Wednesday format for semifinals and final game was changed to Friday-Saturday.

The championship game was televised nationally for the first time as LaSalle defeated Bradley, 94-76, in Kansas City.

The largest media group to that point in the tournament's history was assembled for the finals in Kansas City. Coverage included an 11-station television network, 64 newspaper writers and live radio broadcasts on 73 stations in 11 states.

A contract to run through 1968 was effected with "Sports Network" for the championship game to be televised nationally. Television rights totaled $140,000.

Net income for the entire tournament exceeded $500,000 for the first time.

A television-blackout provision requiring a 48-hour advance sellout was adopted.

The Friday-Saturday format for semifinals and final game changed to Thursday-Saturday.

NBC was selected to televise the championship as television rights totaled $547,500, exceeding $500,000 for the first time. The tournament's net income of $1,032,915 was the first time above the million-dollar mark.

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