March Madness in Western New York

Anyone remember the names Calvin Murphy? Bob Lanier? Hank Nowak? All three played basketball in Western New York, respectively for Niagara University, St. Bonaventure University and, Canisius College. Lanier and Murphy went on to play in the NBA, while Hank Nowak served as a U.S. Congressman for the area. All three are in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Bob Adams, pictured in the image, was captain of the Canisius team in the 1950s and one of the first African American ROTC Officers at the College. Academic Yearbooks and Archives are great resources for searching collegiate sports histories!

According to several sources, the origin of the term “March Madness,” comes from a statement in an article written by an Illinois high school basketball official during a Spring tournament organized in that state in 1939: “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.” The term was picked up by various sports newscasters on and off until the 1980s, when CBS news announcer Brent Musburger used the reference on national TV and from there, it became the unofficial banner for college basketball Spring playoffs.

Today, Niagara, Canisius and St. Bona remain “Little Three” rivals. And even though Syracuse dominates the New York State college basketball scene, St. Bonaventure is an Atlantic 10 team, while Canisius and Niagara are among the teams in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), and UB Bulls (University at Buffalo) play in the Mid-American (MAC) Conference. Regardless of your loyalties or even interest in the sport, basketball’s March Madness is a great cabin fever reliever for those of us who have had enough of the cold, gray days of winter!

Leave a Reply