OK, you’ve seen the scoring averages, the NET rankings, the shooting percentages of the NCAA tournament field. But these numbers, too, are part of the narrative and history for all 68 teams.
2 . . . Only one team in the field dismissed two starters in February, including its leading scorer, and still made it. Abilene Christian.
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2 . . . Two Final Four Most Outstanding Players are coaching Division I teams. One is Danny Manning at Wake Forest. The other is Bobby Hurley at Arizona State. His tournament career 145 assists are still 27 more than anyone else.
1 . . . Milwaukee has had one coach take it to the Sweet 16. Tennessee has had one coach take it to the Elite Eight. It’s the same guy, Bruce Pearl. Now he’s at Auburn, which has had no guys yet take it to Final Four. Just mentioning.
17. . . Academic All-Americans at Belmont since 2001, seven more than any other school in the country. Dylan Windler is the latest. Seven of the top eight career scorers for Belmont were Academic All-American.
7 and 4 . . . The countries and continents represented on Bradley’s roster.
1 . . . Yes, Buffalo has won one NCAA Tournament game in its entire history. But it was a doozy, over No. 4 seed Arizona last year, whetting the Bulls’ appetite for this March.
We're headed to Des Moines! Braves to take on Michigan State on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament First Round! #TheArrival pic.twitter.com/s6bdAN2A1O— Bradley Basketball (@bradleyumbb) March 17, 2019
6 . . . Only six programs in the nation have made the tournament nine consecutive years. Round up the usual suspects; Duke, North Carolina, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, and . . . Cincinnati.
68-58 . . . That was Penn’s losing score to Illinois in the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Matt Langel, Mike Jordan and Dave Klatsky all played for Penn. Now they’re all back in the tournament, with Langel the head coach and the other two his assistants — for Colgate.
2.2 million . . . the number of Twitter followers for Duke basketball. That's the most in college basketball, of course, but also more than 28 of 30 major league teams, 21 of 30 NBA team accounts and 24 of 32 NFL accounts. It's more followers than such A-list names as the Red Sox, Dodgers and Packers. Coach K trends. Or at least Zion Williamson does.
91.2 . . . Darnell Edge’s career free throw shooting percentage for Fairleigh Dickinson, the best in college basketball. He has taken 274 free throws in his four years, and missed 24.
1 . . . Teams that have repeated as back-to-back national champions in the past quarter-century. Florida.
12.9 . .. Mfiondu Kabengele’s scoring average for Florida State. He’s the only player in the country who led his team in scoring and didn’t start a game. But then, nine different Seminoles led Florida State in scoring at least once.
325 . . . Schools that have played in the NCAA Tournament. This year Gardner-Webb became one of them.
50 . . . Georgia State has four players who have made at least 50 3-pointers. No other team in the country can say that.
Why should you watch every #FirstFour & opening round game?— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 18, 2019
Here's 1 reason for all 36:
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20 . . . This is the 20th anniversary of Gonzaga’s coming-out party as upset artist, when the then-unknown Zags shocked Minnesota, Stanford and Florida to get to the Elite Eight. Funny thing, if you use a difference of five seed places as the bar for major upsets, since then, Gonzaga has been the perpetrator five times, but also the victim four times.
27 . . . Houston has won 27 NCAA Tournament games in its history, 26 of them coached by Guy Lewis, at least 35 years ago. One by Kelvin Sampson, last March.
9 . . . Years it had been since the No. 1 seed had won the MAAC tournament and NCAA bid. The curse was just broken by Iona.
83-71 . . . The final score in the 1956 national title game, when San Francisco completed the first perfect season ever. The victim was Iowa, and that remains the Hawkeyes only national championship game appearance. If you’re going to do it once, might as well help make history.
5 . . . Iowa State’s seed in the Big 12 tournament. A No. 5 seed had never won that tournament. But the Cyclones did.
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36 . . . Kansas had its remarkable Big 12 title streak snapped, but not this one. The Jayhawks have won 36 season home finales in a row, going back to the 1980s when Larry Brown was coach
9 . . . Elite eight losses for Kansas State, the most for any team to never win the national championship.
6 . . . Regional championship game defeats for Kentucky that were decided by one or two points, or in overtime. Lots of anguish for Big Blue. For that matter, the Wildcats have lost 20 regional title games in all – 11 more than anyone else – so as frequently as they get to the Final Four, consider what might have been.
71.4 . . . The top three shooting percentages in the nation this season belong to Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Duke’s Zion Williamson – those two, you’ve heard of – and Scottie James of Liberty. Together they took 91 shots in their conference tournaments and made 65, for 71.4 percent.
4 . . . Louisville beat four conference season champions; Vermont, Michigan State, Lipscomb and North Carolina. The Cardinals might trade a couple of those for not blowing that 23-point lead against Duke.
Come along for the ride, #BBN— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) March 18, 2019
78-74 . . . LSU will forever be the last team to lose the late, great third place game at the Final Four, by that score against Virginia in 1981.
1974 . . . The prohibitive favorite for the most anti-climactic national championship game ever played would be 1974, two days after North Carolina State went two overtimes to beat UCLA and end John Wooden’s title run at seven. The final game was a 12-point confirmation for North Carolina State over Marquette.
2002 . . . The only ACC team not named Duke or North Carolina to win a national championship in the past 35 years was Maryland in 2002. But the Terrapins are no longer members of the tribe.
6 . . . Michigan has lost six national championship games. And the Wolverines don’t just lose to anybody. They’ve been beaten by John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith, Bob Knight, Rick Pitino and Jay Wright. They’ve done their part to help build other teams’ legends.
50 . . . Michigan State has had only three basketball coaches in 50 years. Two of the three – Jud Heathcote and Gus Ganakas – passed away in the past 19 months. Tom Izzo coaches on.
1 . . . Minnesota made its only Final Four appearance in 1997. The Gophers have won one NCAA Tournament game in the 21 years since.
14 . . . That’s how many teams are in the SEC. And who was picked to finish 14th and last this season? Mississippi. Instead, the Rebels went from 12-20 to 20-12. It was like holding their record up to a mirror.
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10 . . . No wonder Mississippi State is so giddy about its bid. It had been 10 years since the Bulldogs last made it, the longest drought in the entire SEC.
1975 . . . Montana’s first NCAA Tournament victory – and one of only two it owns – was in 1975. The coach was Jud Heathcote. Just four years later, Heathcote was coaching Magic Johnson against Larry Bird in the national championship game.
0 . . . That’s how many votes Ja Morant of Murray State got for Associated Press pre-season player of the year. Nor was he on the ESPN first, second or third pre-season All-American teams, nor among the 20 names on the United States Basketball Writers Association watch list for the season. Boy, did that change.
165 . . . Nevada’s players have made that many starts this season; five starters for 33 games. Redshirt seniors have accounted for 163 of them.
1970 . . . The last year New Mexico State won an NCAA Tournament game. The Aggies ended up in the Final Four.
49-6 . . . This decade, LeVelle Moton has coached North Carolina Central to four NCAA Tournaments. That was his record at one of his jobs last decade. It was a middle school in Raleigh.
0 . . . That’s how many names from North Dakota State are in the top 19 of the Summit League in minutes played. The Bison have 11 players averaging at least 11 minutes on the floor.
9 . . . Not many teams are more balanced than Northeastern. The Huskies’ top seven players average between 17.8 and 8.2 points, and the Colonial championship game victory over Hofstra was fairly typical – seven players in the game, all seven scored at last nine.
73 . . . Northern Kentucky likes to find the open man. Of its 85 field goals in the Horizon League tournament, 69 came off assists, or 73 percent.
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1 . . . Only four schools have dropped back-to-back national championship games, and only one – Ohio State -- lost to the same team. That it was in-state cousin Cincinnati probably made it all the more galling.
95-51 . . . Alas, Oklahoma, records are made to be broken but this one might last a while. That was the Sooners’ score against Villanova in 2016, the worst loss in the history of the Final Four.
2011 . . . It was a rather frustrating year for Old Dominion. The Monarchs beat VCU twice during the season, but the Rams went to the Final Four. They lost in the last seconds to Butler in the first round, and the Bulldogs went to the championship game.
6-9 . . . Apparently the magic number for Oregon. The Ducks start four players that size, and all that length is a key reason defense saved their season, and they have held six of their last eight opponents to 54 points or under. It’s been a journey finding the right combination through injuries. Oregon has started 10 different players.
4 . . . There’s a good reason for the Prairie View A&M joy about its 22-12 record. This is only the fourth winning season in 40 years.
24 . . . Purdue’s 24 Big Ten season titles are more than anyone else in the league. Ah, but the Boilermakers are only seventh in the conference in NCAA Tournament victories.
2000 . . That’s the last season St. John’s won an NCAA Tournament game. It was a big year, because there was also the victory at Duke, the last non-conference team to do that in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
6 . . . For Saint Louis, this was a better roller-coaster ride than they have at Six Flags outside of town. The Billikens were picked to win the Atlantic 10. Then they dropped seven of 10 games and finished sixth. Then they won the conference tournament, beating four teams they had lost to during the regular season.
5 . . . It took a lot of Down Under to get Saint Mary’s to roll over Gonzaga. There are five Australians on the roster. Plus two New Zealanders, and one each from England, Estonia and Latvia. The two leading scorers, though, are California guys from Folsom and Rancho Cucamonga.
3.55 . . . When Michael Nzei isn’t becoming only the third player in the history of Seton Hall to play in four NCAA Tournaments, or shooting 61 percent, he’s pursuing his MBA after graduating with a degree in economics and 3.55 grade point average. Here’s a shocker: He’s Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
35,642 . . . That’s how many people came to see Syracuse host Duke in February. Besides being the largest on-campus crowd in college basketball history, it was more than 180 Division I teams drew all season.
1,926 – Temple has won that many basketball games, which means the Owls are living in a pretty ritzy neighborhood. The only schools with more are Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Duke. Just behind them are Syracuse and UCLA. Only thing missing, those other six have 34 national championships, Temple none. Its only Final Fours were 1956 and ’58.
Lace up your dancin’ shoes...— Temple Men's BBall (@TUMBBHoops) March 17, 2019
👉 Temple vs Belmont
📍 Dayton, Ohio
🗓Tuesday, March 19
⏰ 9:10 pm
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3 . . . Games Tennessee has trailed by double digits all season, which is pretty impressive when you consider the Vols have played five games against teams ranked in the top-5 at the time.
7 . . . Texas Tech was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12, and Jarrett Culver wasn’t even on the preseason all-conference team. The Red Raiders ended up sharing the league title with 14 conference wins – their most ever – and Culver was Big 12 player of the year.
8 . . . The Big West had produced eight different champions in the past eight years. But then UC Irvine had to go and spoil the streak and win its second in five years.
2 . . . For 33 years, from 1984-2016, UCF had beaten only three ranked opponents, and never two in the same season. The Knights started March by beating two – Houston and Cincinnati – in six days.
2 . . . Utah State has made it to two Elite Eights. That’s more than Tennessee or Texas Tech and only one fewer than Gonzaga and Florida State. But then, we’re talking 80 and 49 years ago.
2011 . . . Remember when VCU was famous with its turnover-causing Havoc defense, which led to the 2011 Final Four? The current Rams are averaging just as many steals as that season, and more turnovers forced .
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65 . . . Want to see dominance? Since 2003, Vermont has won 65 more games than anybody else in the America East. The Catamounts have beaten UMBC 24 of their last 27 meetings. But we all know who got the buzz in that league the past 12 months.
6 . . . True, times have changed a little at Villanova. The No. 6 seed is the Wildcats’ lowest in six years. They have been first or second every March since 2013. Still winning the Big East, though.
58 . . . Fifty-eight different schools have played in the national championship game, including such bygone names as Jacksonville, Seattle and NYU. But never Virginia.
12 . . . That’s the most league victories for Virginia Tech since it joined the ACC in 2005. Done mostly without the Hokies’ point guard and career assist leader Justin Robinson, who played exactly one second - a ceremonial start on Senior Day -- the last 12 games because of a foot injury.
132 . . . Consecutive starts for Matisse Thybulle at Washington, every game of his career. What’s he been doing out there for so long? Defense, lots of defense. This season he has 194 steals and blocked shots.
6 . . . Players in Division I history who had 2000 career points, 1000 rebounds and 400 assists. A very exclusive club of do-it-all types, such as Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird. And now, Ethan Happ of Wisconsin.
502 . . . Fletcher Magee’s career 3-pointers for Wofford. He’s just two off the NCAA record by Oakland’s Travis Bader, and chances are he’ll get it against Seton Hall. He has had five or more 3-pointers in 19 games his season.
13 . . . Yale’s best on-ball defender is Trey Phills, who wears No. 13 for a reason. That was the jersey number of his father and NBA player Bobby Phills, who died in a car accident in 2000 after a morning practice with the Charlotte Hornets. Trey was three years old. The first time Trey broke 20 in college was when he scored 23 against Brown on Jan. 12, 2018. It was the 18th anniversary of his father’s death
And finally, 251 . . . The meetings between North Carolina and Duke. But not one of those came in the NCAA tournament. They’re No. 1 seeds on the opposite of the bracket, so imagine – just imagine – them playing for the national championship in Minneapolis.