Why is March Madness called the ‘Big Dance’?
If you’re a fan of college basketball, you probably look forward to watching March Madness, the NCAA tournament which is also nicknamed the ‘Big Dance.’
It’s that time of year again for college basketball fans - all the excitement of March Madness and filling out brackets, hoping to get the winners right this time.
This competition remains one of the most popular in the US - last year’s championship game between Kansas and UNC was watched by 18.1 million viewers, the biggest number for an NCAA title game.
March Madness = The Big Dance
For some who may not know, the NCAA tournament is also nicknamed the “Big Dance”, and in case you’re wondering where this moniker came from, well, the reasons are rooted in a combination of fashion, superstition, and success.
Marquette University’s team, the Golden Eagles, had a head coach named Al McGuire, who started guiding the team in 1964. In 1977, the coach became known for religiously wearing a bright blue blazer to all the games during the regular season, so he was asked by a reporter if he would wear his lucky outfit during the team’s tournament run.
McGuire was supposed to have replied, “Absolutely. You gotta wear the blue blazer when you go to the big dance.”
Everybody loves a winner
The team eventually went on to win the championship against North Carolina, 67-59, giving Marquette its only NCAA title in school history. (Did the blue jacket really bring luck??) It also became the last year that McGuire was to coach the Golden Eagles.
Having such a landmark win for both the university and the coach probably helped immortalize the term the “Big Dance”, which has now been used as a synonym for the NCAA tournament for 45 years.
If Marquette had been eliminated early on in the competition, the nickname would probably not have stuck, and McGuire’s lucky bright blue blazer would not have acquired the prominence that it now enjoys.