The first intercollegiate basketball game was held on February 9, 1895 between Hamline College and the Minnesota School of Agriculture. Over time, Basketball developed and the first collegiate basketball game with the five man format was played on January 18, 1896 in Iowa City, Iowa. After this event, college basketball quickly grew and by the early twentieth century, there were enough college teams to make up a conference. This signaled the formation of the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the US or IAAUS in 1906. Four years later, the organization’s name was changed to NCAA or National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
In 1939, the first NCAA basketball tournament was held with NCAA basketball starting out with 8 teams which then eventually grew to 65 teams. In 1938, the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association sponsored the National Invitation Tournament. Both the NCAA and the NIT tournaments created venues for college teams to compete for the title as National Champion. In the 1950s, the City College of New York won the NCAA and the NIT tournaments.
The creation of the NIT and NCAA tournaments was important to the sport of basketball. It not only allowed for the emergence of dominant basketball colleges, it also helped lure top high school players to colleges and thus promote higher education as well. Some of the early power-house schools that made it big in the scene of college basketball include University of California Los Angeles, University of Indiana, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas.
By late 1970s, only the NCAA tournament was considered the number one college basketball tournament and in the 1980s, intercollegiate basketball became one of the favorite sports in America.