Recent changes to name, image and likeness rules point to a potential return of EA Sports’ NCAA Basketball March Madness series.
March Madness 2022
Tipping off with first/second round action, the NCAA Men’s tournament marks the quest to crown the next college basketball champion. The tournament includes a number of key storylines lines headlined by:
- the final postseason run for Coach Mike Krzyzewski (Duke Blue Devils),
- the quest for No.1 seed Baylor to repeat as champions
- and potential for a sleeper team to make a Cinderella-like run in the tourney
While brackets continue to bust over the next couple of days, The Game Haus takes a moment to look back at the NCAA March Madness Basketball game series.
History of the Game
Originally released in 1997, NCAA March Madness gave players the chance to win the tournament with their favorite college program and players. The popularity of the game grew as college basketball Legend Dick Vitale joined as a commentator (NCAA March Madness 2004); along with the customization of school colors and fight song playing on the main screen. After rebranding in 2008 (NCAA Basketball 09), the series provided one more title (NCAA Basketball 10) before being canceled; thought to be the result of NCAA name, image and likeness rules.
Notable Cover Athletes
Throughout the course of the series, a number of notable college and NBA players have been on the cover. The first edition was well received, featuring former San Antonio Spur/Wake Forest player Tim Duncan on the cover; a now NBA hall-of-famer, five-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA MVP.
However, the most popular cover artist in the series appeared on the cover of NCAA March Madness 2004: Carmelo Anthony. The former Syracuse and current Los Angeles Laker has also enjoyed a storied basketball career; recognized as one of the 75 greatest players in NBA history and leading Syracuse to a national championship (2003).
Considered the best basketball player in the NBA right now, Kevin Durant (Texas Longhorns/Brooklyn Nets) graced the cover of NCAA March Madness 2008. Durant’s storied career includes multiple NBA Championship (2017, 2018), an NBA MVP Award (2014) and selection on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Despite featuring top collegiate players for over a decade, top college players are now only found in NBA 2K titles.
Though the last game appeared in 2009, rulings on the amateur status of college athletes opens the opportunity to return. Last year EA Sports announced the return of college football in the midst of new rulings allowing college athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness. Although expected to release in July 2023, its reception will impact the potential turn of a college basketball video-game series. As the names/likeness of players appearing in-game, fans continue to eagerly await EA’s take on the college football series.
With March Madness continuing into the weekend, a potential return provides hope for fans of the former series.
Featured image courtesy of NCAA