Every year, college basketball fans around the world turn their attention to one of the most exciting annual tournaments: March Madness. During the NCAA Tournament, 68 teams will take the floor and begin their journey toward the national championship.
When a champion is crowned, the ultimate celebration will commence. But there is one specific moment during the celebration that every fan looks forward to seeing. At the end of NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, players climb a ladder and cut off a piece of the net for themselves.
The tradition isn't only for national champions, though. Teams also participate in cutting nets just about anytime there's a trophy involved in men's or women's college basketball, like conference tournaments and even the Elite Eight.
As we gear up for this year's NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, let's take a look at when the tradition of cutting down nets began and what it means:
What is the origin of cutting down the nets?
Cutting down the nets started at the collegiate level in 1947.
After the North Carolina State Wolfpack claimed their second Southern Conference title, head coach Everett Case wanted a souvenir to commemorate the win. He decided that the basketball net from the game would be perfect.
There wasn't a ladder on hand waiting to help Case get up to the rim with scissors, so his players hoisted their coach up, and the tradition began.
Eventually, the tradition spread to the women's college basketball tournaments and in many high school basketball programs across the country. The NCAA Tournament even has an official ladder (Werner) and scissors (Fiskars) used during the ceremony.
Why do basketball teams cut down the net?
It is a way for the teams to commemorate their achievement and have a piece of the court as a keepsake.
Who cuts down a basketball net?
Players typically go in order of seniority with the freshman cutting first and the seniors following after. The final cut is saved for the head coach.
Players often get small clips of the net as souvenirs, since obviously not every player can have the whole thing.
Do NBA teams cut the net?
NBA teams don't participate in the tradition of cutting down the net.
Even though professional basketball is the highest and most competitive form of the sport, you won't see the team celebrating their championships by cutting the net at the end of a game.