Finally, B-Day has arrived.
The wait to tip off the first full day of the men’s NCAA basketball tournament commences at roughly high noon, Eastern Time, Thursday. By now, you’ve certainly filled in your brackets, stocked up on chips and soda, and positioned the March Madness TV schedule next to the remote.
Still, there is time for some last-minute cramming, exam-style.
Do you know how many schools have won both the men's and women's tournament? Did you know that Jimmer Fredette is not a typo? Do you know who he plays for?
The best of March Madness present
Most peculiar season turned in by a tournament team
Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which won the Tuesday play-in game, began by losing its first 11 games, all except one by double digits. Their average margin of defeat was 15 points, and they didn’t play their first home game until mid-January. Once the Golden Lions got into their Southwestern Athletic Conference schedule, they were mostly, well, golden. From that point they’ve gone 18-4.
Teams with the best graduation success rates
According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, which collects such data, these are the Top 10 schools in the tournament when it comes to graduating their players (with the graduation percentage in parentheses):
- Brigham Young (100 percent)
- Marquette (100)
- Notre Dame (100)
- Utah State (100)
- Wake Forest (100)
- Wofford (100)
- Duke (92)
- Lehigh (92)
- Vermont (92)
- Villanova (92)
Most mysterious team nicknames in this year’s tournament
Best team nickname
Best player names
- Tweety Carter, Baylor
- Jimmer Fredette, Brighham Young
Coaches with the best nicknames
- Tubby Smith, Minnesota
- Buzz Williams, Marquette
Best celebrity fan
A 1990 UK graduate, she sits among the Wildcat faithful and blends in as well as possible. In a Sports Illustrated guest column, she once wrote she loves attending Kentucky games partly because “I don’t feel like a movie star” and for “feeling as free as I do when I walk the woods surrounding our farm.”
Best pep band number
“Dr. Hoosier,” which is in virtually every pep band’s repertoire and surely will be played countless times during the tournament. If you don’t think you know this tune, click here, and you may change your tune.
The best of March Madness past
Teams with the most consensus All-Americas to never win the championship
- Notre Dame, 11
- Purdue, 10
Loyola of Chicago, 1963
Footnote: The Ramblers were the first team in Division I history with an all-black lineup, which they introduced in 1962.
Only city that has had two different schools win national championships*
Philadelphia: LaSalle (1954) and Villanova (1985)
* One can argue that Washington, D.C., also claims two championship teams: Georgetown (1984) and the University of Maryland (2002), since the Maryland campus is inside the Beltway that rings the metro Washington area.
Biggest fashion statement in tournament history
The blousy, knee-length (and beyond) shorts worn by Michigan’s so-called Fab Five in 1992, when five freshman starters took the Wolverines to the Final Four. This was really the beginning of the hip-hop look in basketball attire, or what some have called the Baggy Pants Revolution.
Number of schools with teams in both the men’s and women’s tournaments
Footnote: The only school to ever have its men’s and women’s team win national championships in the same year is Connecticut, which accomplished the feat in 2004.
Most dominating run to a championship
Kentucky in 1996, when the Wildcats outscored six opponents in tournament play by 129 total points. North Carolina’s +121 differential last year was the second most dominating performance.
Best nicknames given teams from past tournaments
- Phi Slamma Jamma – Houston’s dunk-happy team of the early-1980s
- The Tall Firs – the Unversity of Oregon’s 1939 team, which won the inaugural NCAA title
- The Fiddlin’ Five – the 1958 Kentucky squad that won a national championship despite what Coach Adolph Rupp considered a penchant for fiddlin’.
- The Doctors of Dunk – Louisville’s 1980 national championship team led by high-leaping Darrell Griffith, alias “Count Dunkenstein.”
- Rupp’s Runts – the short but talented 1966 Kentucky team that reached the championship game only to lose to Texas Western, which made history with an all-black starting lineup.
- The Duke Power Company – the 1978 Duke squad that was national runner-up to Kentucky.
Most interesting coaching reincarnation
Nolan Richardson, who coached Arkansas to a national championship in 1994 with an intense style of full-out defensive pressure known as “40 Minutes of Hell," which is also the title of his new biography. Although Richardson was fired in 2002 in an ugly dispute with the Arkansas athletic administration, he has reemerged as the new coach of the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock, the women’s expansion team that recently signed former Olympic sprinter Marion Jones as a free agent.