Midnight Madness is exactly that. It’s pandemonium, chaos, and excitement. All in the name of college basketball. The first official day of the college basketball season is more of a party than a practice, with extravagant entrances (Tom Izzo) to celebrity appearances and clips that will light up YouTube.
Midnight Madness takes campuses across the country by storm. However, the first Midnight Madness began as a conditioning test for the University of Maryland men’s basketball team 41 years ago.
In College Park, Md., head coach Lefty Driesell had his players run a mile in under six minutes, as their first test of the season. Usually he began the season with an afternoon practice starting at 3 p.m., but because of the mile run, practice didn’t officially start until around 4 p.m. and by then players were tired from the run.
“The rule was you could start practice one minute past midnight on October 15. I said, ‘Why don’t we run the mile one minute past midnight on October 15, so we could have a better practice that afternoon?’”
The first reported Midnight Madness practice took place at Byrd Stadium on the Maryland campus, with the only light coming from cars parked around the track.
Driesell, now 80-years-old, amassed 786 victories in his career, while unintentionally providing the game with one it’s more iconic nights.