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NCAA celebrates its history on tourney's 75th anniversary

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The NCAA men's basketball tournament is celebrating its 75th anniversary by commemorating its best players, moments and teams in a bracket dedicated to the madness. The NCAA men's basketball tournament is celebrating its 75th anniversary by commemorating its best players, moments and teams in a bracket dedicated to the madness.
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(RNN) - The sports world is once again ready to be swept off its feet.

The next few weeks bring the world into "madness" with the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Get your popcorn and brackets ready.

In 2013, the NCAA celebrates the 75th anniversary of March Madness. It is using the opportunity to commemorate its greatest players, teams and One Shining Moment in a bracket-style tournament, and giving fans the opportunity to select their favorites.

"A handful of moments and a dozen or so of the teams have started to separate themselves from their competition," said Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men's basketball championships in a news release.

The interactive website includes a timeline of the tournament, comparisons of the players and videos of the best moments.

The final votes for fans will end March 24 on NCAA.com, with the winners revealed exclusively on the site on April 5.

The Top 15 players, the top team and top moment will be recognized April 6 in Atlanta, the site of the 2013 Final Four.

Votes for players are cast by fans as well as NCAA basketball experts and analysts.

Among the memories to choose from are 75 players, 25 teams and 35 moments.

"It includes players who are more than five decades removed from being college stars and many all-time greats in between," Gavitt said.

The list of players will be a tough competition.

Some of the play makers involved in the voting are known as greats in both college and professional basketball: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Patrick Ewing, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan.

Others are more synonymous for their college pursuits, such as Christian Laettner, Kemba Walker and Joakim Noah.

The teams from the 75th anniversary are those who transformed the game of college basketball from generation to generation: the dominant UCLA teams coached by John Wooden that won five straight national titles from 1967-1972 or the 1973-74 NC State team that defeated them, ending their reign.

Other memorable and beloved teams in the running include the 1991-92 Duke Blue Devils in their back-to-back national title run, the 1995-96 "untouchable" Kentucky Wildcats team and the 1983-84 Georgetown Hoyas, Patrick Ewing's only championship collegially or professionally.

The top all-time moments reflect the bright spots throughout the 75 years of the tournament. Included is the first NCAA tournament championship won by the Oregon Webfoots in 1939, defeating Ohio State 44-39.

Another bright spot in the list is the 1966 championship game won by outsiders Texas Western, defeating powerhouse Kentucky. The first NCAA team to feature five African American starters defeated Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp and player Pat Riley.

Other great moments include the 1963 Mississippi State team that defied its governor's orders to play in a tournament against black players.

Greats from the past also make the most memorable list: The first title won by Duke University and coach Mike Krzyzewski and the beginning of the Magic Johnson/Larry Bird rivalry, still the highest rated college basketball game ever.

Another great moment is two 15-seed teams in Norfolk State and Lehigh defeating two No. 2 seeds, Missouri and Duke, on the same day in 2012.

One of the most replayed moments is the late Jim Valvano running around like a happy child as a last second shot propelled NC State to victory against Houston in 1983.

"To honor the growth of our sport," said Gavitt. "We are celebrating past players, teams and moments that have helped turn March Madness into one of the year's most anticipated sporting events."

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