March is coming, and never mind for the moment, what might happen soon in the NCAA tournament. This is a review of the things that have never happened. And of course, let’s start with the same thing we always start with on this list.
A No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed, and many believe it is impossi . . . ooops. Sorry, UMBC. Force of habit. Guess we have to find a new annual lead item for this list.
Tennessee makes it to the Final Four.
Yeah, that one’s still good. Timely, too, with the noise the Vols have been making this season. This will be their 22nd NCAA tournament, and they have to figure they’re due to finally accomplish something 93 other schools have done. More importantly, they’re good enough.
North Carolina and Duke meet in the NCAA tournament
They’ve combined for 91 tournament appearances and 36 Final Fours. You’d think with that much time spent in the same bracket, they’d have run into each other by now. It’d take a lot of things to happen, but if a guy can plant his foot and blow out his Nike, anything seems possible. By the way, Kentucky and Marquette have met 10 times – the most of any two schools
A No. 16 seed get to the second week.
Sure, you remember UMBC’s first game last March, but how about its second? The Retrievers gave Kansas State a run before losing 50-43. Meanwhile, they pushed the boundaries on what a 16 seed can do, so this is the next frontier. Think of the headline. No. 16 in the Sweet 16.
An NCAA tournament played in Nevada or Wyoming.
Understand, there are NCAA national championship trophies on display in both states, just no games. This is compared to the 257 tournament games played in the state of North Carolina.
The No. 1 seed play a 15 or 14 seed.
That would have to come in a regional championship game, so don’t hold your breath.
A team seeded lower than No. 11 play in the Final Four.
But want to see a population explosion? The list of 11s to make it. LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006, VCU in 2011 . . . and Loyola Chicago last March. No. 12 seed Missouri gave it a go in 2002, but lost 81-75 to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight.
A team seeded No. 9 or lower play in the national championship game.
Villanova was No. 8 seed in 1985. Ask Patrick Ewing how that turned out.
A freshman score 30 points in the national championship game.
Toby Baily’s 26 for UCLA in 1995 is the record, but there are a gaggle of freshmen this season who have the talent to take a stab at that. Some of them don’t even play for Duke.
All four regional championship games go overtime.
Don’t’ snicker. It almost happened in 2005. Three of the four were decided in overtime, and North Carolina beat Wisconsin by only six points.
A schools from Maine or Alaska in the NCAA tournament.
Maybe it’d be different, if we were talking skiing. Meanwhile, California and Texas have each had 23 schools make it. Must come with all those electoral votes.
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A Final Four with no teams from the Eastern time zone.
There’s more. Only one national champion in 21 years—Kansas in 2008 — was not an Eastern product.
A team shooting worse than 32.9 percent in 3-pointers win the championship.
Connecticut of 2011 owns the low 32.9. Why mention it? Because Duke at last check was shooting 30.6 percent.
No First Four survivor win in the next round.
There’s been one team advance every year since they created this thing in 2011.
Gonzaga beats a No. 1 seeded opponent.
The Zags first made a name for themselves years ago by upsetting the big boys. But never the biggest. UMBC, UAB, George Mason, Northern Iowa and Penn are among the teams who have.
A triple-double in the Final Four since assists became an official statistic in 1984.
If you prefer unofficial, Oscar Robertson had three for Cincinnati. And Magic Johnson had the last one, 40 years ago.
A No. 5 seed win the national championship.
When it comes to the tournament, the number 5 has been unluckier than 13 would ever hope to be. Only seven No. 5 seeds have made it to the Final Four in 40 years of seeding — just three more than No. 11. And in the first round the 5-12 game is always everyone’s favorite upset pick.
An Elite Eight without a single No. 1 seed.
That’d make the selection committee look kind of bad, don’t you think? There have been three Final Fours without a top seed, 2011 the most recent.
Nebraska win an NCAA tournament game.
Not another school in the power-5 leagues can say that. The Cornhuskers have been in seven tournaments. Seven losses. This season looked promising, but not lately. While we’re on the subject, Buffalo has won only one game – last season’s upset of Arizona. It’s worth mentioning because Buffalo has fewer tournament victories than any team currently in the Associated Press top-25.
A team get into the tournament with a .500 record, and then win a game.
The .500 teams are 0-7. But 10 teams that came into the tournament with a losing record won a game, including 15-19 Texas Southern last year.
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A team come from more than 15 points down in the second half to win a Final Four game.
Leads of 20, 19 and 18 points in the second half have melted like ice cream on a July sidewalk this regular season, but 15 is the upper limit in the Final Four. Loyola Chicago did that in the 1963 national championship game against Cincinnati.
A man win the national championship in his first full season as a head coach.
Nobody has done that exactly. Steve Fisher, given the Michigan job just before the 1989 NCAA tournament when Bill Frieder was fired, won the title in his first full month on the job. This is the 30th anniversary of that assistant-to-riches story.
Three No. 1 seeds ousted the first week.
There have been two taken out. Last March with Virginia and Xavier, for instance
Kentucky win a Final Four third place game
You do remember the third place game, right? The Wildcats have 128 victories in the NCAA tournament, but not one in the third place game. And since there isn’t such a thing anymore, they never will. No one seems too disappointed.
A coach with a beard win the national championship.
This needs to be mentioned on the 30th anniversary of P.J. Carlesimo and his beard getting to the championship game with Seton Hall.
A national championship game appearance by either Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Texas or USC.
Wrong-shaped ball. They’ve won 39 football national championships, and Alabama-Clemson has been the title game matchup three of the past four years.
A national championship game between two teams from the same state not named Ohio.
Ohio State and Cincinnati did it twice, in 1961 and ’62, and the Bearcats won both times. They haven’t seen each other much outside of March. Last November was their first game in Cincinnati since 1920.
A coach take six different schools to the tournament.
Tubby Smith, with five, is working on it. But High Point doesn’t look so promising at the moment.
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BYU in the Final Four
Good news for the Cougars, they’ve been to NCAA tournament 29 times. Bad news, that’s the most of any school never to get to the Final Four. Xavier is right behind at 28. Worst news, BYU likely won’t be making it 30 this season.
A man start in a national championship game and come back to win it as a coach.
Bob Knight and Dean Smith were reserves. Smith didn’t score for Kansas in 1952, Knight had two points for Ohio State in 1962.
A coach win the national championship past the age of 70.
Did we mention Mike Krzyzewski just turned 72?