These are 68 things to know as March Madness begins
There is more than just RPI to the NCAA Tournament field. After all, teams do not live by their Quadrant 1 victory total alone.
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Alabama: At last check, freshman Collin Sexton had a 19-point scoring average and 4.0 grade point average.
Arizona: The Wildcats have lost to a No. 11 seed two NCAA Tournaments in a row – Wichita State and Xavier. Not the threepeat they’re looking for in Tucson.
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Arizona State: Kodi Justice is the third leading scorer for Arizona State. He is also pursuing his masters, having become the first person in his family to graduate from college. He is also dyslexic. He said in his school bio that it has been the biggest challenge of his life.
Arkansas: If you don’t get the Razorbacks in the first 20 minutes, you don’t get them at all. They have won 40 consecutive games when leading at halftime.
Auburn: Eight players were named to the SEC all-conference first team. None of them played for Auburn. By the way, the Tigers tied for the league season title. A conference champion without a first teamer hadn’t happened since SEC coaches started voting for awards in 1956.
Bucknell: While leading the Patriot League in scoring and rebounding, Zach Thomas has shot 299 free throws. Just on free throws alone, he would be the 45th leading scorer in the conference.
Buffalo: The Bulls broke 80 points in 24 games this season. No team in the nation did it more.
Butler: The Bulldogs have never lost to a lower-seeded team in the tournament, going 10-0. But Friday, they’re No. 10 and Arkansas is No. 7, so that trend won’t help.
Cal State Fullerton: During practices, coach Dedrique Taylor has a whiteboard facing the court, and a student manager constantly updating numbers of turnovers and ball deflections for each player, so the world can see.
Charleston: One of the Cougars’ biggest fans is actor Bill Murray, who was in the house standing and roaring during the league championship game. Good thing they’re not playing Xavier this week. Murray’s son Luke is a Musketeer assistant coach.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats hadn’t had a conference player of the year since 2002. But Gary Clark not only won that – never mind the modest 13-point scoring average -- but also was winner of the American’s defensive player of the year and sportsmanship awards. About all he missed was coach of the year.
Clemson: The Tigers went 11-7 in the ACC. The last time they won 11 league games, they were in the Southern Conference. It was 1952.
Creighton: The Bluejays’ overtime win over Villanova in February broke a string of 107 consecutive games without an extra period, going back to 2015. It was the school’s longest OT-less stretch since 1949. They might not mind a few more, since Greg McDermott is 6-2 as Creighton coach in overtime games.
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Davidson: Talk about bleeding your school’s colors. Bob McKillop is in his 29th year coaching Davidson. His three kids all went to Davidson. His son and daughter-in-law went to Davidson. He and his wife live across the street from Davidson’s campus, and he walks to work every day.
Duke: Of the 1302 games Mike Krzyzewski has coached at Duke, he has started four freshman only 49 times – 26 of those coming this season.
Florida: The Gators swept Kentucky. That’s only happened six times ever. They also beat Gonzaga and Cincinnati, combined record of 60-8. Think what their resume would look like if they hadn’t blown that 17-point lead in the last 10 minutes against Duke.
Florida State: Braian Angola averages 12.9 points a game and shoots 42.2 percent for the Seminoles. But bring his mother Ofelia from Colombia and see what happens. She was able to watch her senior son play in person for the first two times in her life this season. He averaged 22 points and hit 55.6 percent in those games.
Georgia State: Ron Hunter is the career coaching victory leader at Georgia State and IUPUI – one of only eight men who are No. 1 at two schools. He might be better known for falling off his chair when his son’s late 3-pointer beat Baylor in the 2015 first round.
Gonzaga: In the past 12 games, they’re hitting 92.5 percent from the free throw line in the final three minutes. Josh Perkins is 15-for-15, so maybe teams should think about fouling someone else.
Houston: The Cougars’ last NCAA Tournament victory came against Virginia. It was the 1984 Final Four, and the center was Akeem Olajuwon (before changing to Hakeem). He’s also the last player from a losing team to be named Most Outstanding Player at a Final Four.
Iona: Which Gael to guard? Eight different players scored at least 20 points in a game this season.
Kansas: Udoka Azubuike not only has the best shooting percentage in Division I by a couple of laps – he’s at 77.4, next best is 68.5 -- but he would be only the third Jayhawk in history to lead the nation in anything in a season. And there have been a lot of seasons in Lawrence.
Kansas State: The last No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in the national championship game was North Carolina knocking off top-ranked Illinois in 2005. Kansas State’s Bruce Weber was coaching the Illini that night.
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Kentucky: The Wildcats’ last regular season win was 96-78 over Mississippi on Senior Night. Except they have no seniors. Lexington might be the capital of the Commonwealth of One-and-Done, but it was the first time since 1945 Kentucky had no senior on the roster to honor.
LIU Brooklyn: Derek Kellogg led the Blackbirds to the NCAA Tournament his first season as coach, even with an 18-16 record. Not bad for a guy who got his college degree in real estate.
Lipscomb: The nickname might be grammatically iffy – they go by Bisons, not the more correct Bison – but what does that matter for a team in its first NCAA Tournament ever? The Bisons hadn’t even advanced to the conference tournament championship game in 12 years.
Loyola of Chicago: The Ramblers, making their first tournament appearance in 33 years, are the only team in the nation that has had nobody foul out of a game this season.
Marshall: The Thundering Herd are in their first NCAA Tournament in 31 years with a considerable push from guard Jon Elmore, the only Division I player in America who had two triple-doubles this season. He is averaging more than 22 points, six rebounds and six assists a game. The only other player in the past 26 seasons to do that was Memphis’ Penny Hardaway in 1993.
Miami: The Hurricanes were the kings of close calls. They won their last four ACC season games by a combined eight points. Only two of their 18 conference season games were decided by more than 10. In seven of their eight losses, they were within one possession inside of the four-minute mark.
The Hurricanes have now made the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year and for the fourth time in six seasons. pic.twitter.com/Zd6spjyRVA— Canes Hoops (@CanesHoops) March 11, 2018
Michigan: The Wolverines have the Big Ten’s best scoring defense at 63.5 points a game. The last time they led the league was 1964.
Michigan State: The past two years, the Spartans were beaten in the first and second rounds. By the way, Tom Izzo has never gone three consecutive years without a Sweet 16 team.
Missouri: Leading scorer Kassius Robertson had one Division I scholarship offer coming out of high school. Canisius. He played three years there before moving to Missouri, and coming into March, his 16.2 average was the best among graduate transfers at power conferences.
Montana: The Grizzlies used the same starting lineup all 33 games. The only other team in the nation to do that was Central Michigan.
Murray State: It wasn’t your garden variety win when the Racers clinched the OVC season title outright at Austin Peay on Feb. 24. With Murray State leading by nine and 5:49 left, high winds caused damage to the roof and sent debris and rain onto the floor. The game was stopped at 9:02 p.m. and didn’t restart until 12:08 a.m. The Racers won 73-64, part of a 13-game victory streak that is second in the tournament only to Gonzaga’s 14.
Nevada: The Wolf Pack must lead the nation in uniform combinations. They’ve worn 12 different sets this season, with white, navy, black, blue, pink, gray, turquoise and camouflage all making an appearance.
New Mexico State: The Aggies start only one player taller than 6-5. Size doesn’t matter much to them, and Jemerrio Jones will do as an example. He is second in the nation in rebounding with 13 a game, and became the first Division I player this century to top 20 rebounds in three consecutive games. He’s 6-5.
North Carolina: Luke Maye (17.2) and Joel Berry II (17.1) lead the team in scoring. The last time two Tar Heels averaged more than 17 points a game in the same season, they were named Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins. That was 34 years ago.
North Carolina Central: The Eagles lost all five starters and seven of their top eight scorers from last season. They won the MEAC and are going back to the NCAA Tournament anyway.
North Carolina State: In one season under new coach Kevin Keatts, the Wolfpack went from 4-14 in the ACC to 11-7, knocking off No. 2 Duke and No. 10 North Carolina.
Ohio State: Before guard Andrew Dakich played in 32 games for Ohio State this season as a graduate student, he played in 49 for Michigan. What would Woody and Bo think?
Oklahoma: Along with Trae Young’s All-American offensive production is a nagging turnover habit. He averages 5.2 a game. The entire Virginia team averages 8.6.
Penn: The Quakers have had 12 different players score in double figures this season, and eight lead the team in scoring in a game.
Providence: The Friars went 3-3 against top-five opponents this season. That included wins over two of the tournament’s No. 1 seeds – Villanova and Xavier.
Purdue: The four senior Boilermaker starters have won 102 games and scored 5,036 points in their careers. Only one, 7-2 Isaac Haas, was a consensus top-100 rated recruit.
Radford: The Highlanders, who were picked seventh in the pre-season Big South poll, must know how to draw fouls. They outscored their conference tournament opponents 56-20 from the free throw line.
Rhode Island: The Rams’ last regular season conference title before this year was 1981. They were in the Eastern Eight.
San Diego State: Brian Dutcher led the Aztecs to the NCAA Tournament his first year as head coach. As a Michigan assistant in the early 1990s, he helped the recruiting efforts to bring in a fairly renowned freshman class. They would one day be called the Fab Five.
Seton Hall: Angel Delgado has more career double-doubles – 71 – than any active player in the nation. That puts him 18th on the all-time list, which is a ritzy neighborhood. He’s just ahead of Larry Bird, and one behind Bill Walton.
South Dakota State: Besides being a strong contender for best nickname in the bracket, the Jackrabbits have Mike Daum, whose 25.3 average in 2016-17 made him the nation’s top returning scorer this season. He’s at 23.8 this year, and leads all scorers in the tournament not named Trae Young.
St. Bonaventure: How’s this for a rare Final Four matchup? St. Bonaventure vs. Jacksonville. That was in 1970 – the last time either of them won an NCAA Tournament game. Jacksonville ended up playing for the championship.
Stephen F. Austin: When the Lumberjacks won at Northwestern State in January, 64-56, they were 0-for-16 in 3-point shots. That makes them one of only three teams in the nation to win a game this season without a 3-pointer. New Orleans and St. Bonaventure did it, too.
Syracuse: The Orange must have a no-fatigue rule. Nos. 1, 2 and 6 in the nation in minutes played all are on the court for Syracuse. Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett together average 5.2 minutes on the bench a game.
TCU: The Horned Frogs have the only coach in the field who has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Jamie Dixon appeared in several commercials into his early 20s, including for Rice Krispies and Bud Light.
Tennessee: In case anyone has forgotten – and they haven’t in Knoxville – the team that shared the SEC season title was picked to finish 13th in the pre-season poll. Included were regular season sweeps of rivals Vanderbilt and Kentucky for the first time in 19 years.
Texas: Coach Shaka Smart graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon with a degree in history, and has given commencement addresses at his alma mater and the University of Texas department of history.
Texas A&M: Billy Kennedy, in his seventh year with the Aggies, has found a home. Before that, he had worked at 11 different schools by the age of 42.
Texas Southern: The Tigers started the season with 13 consecutive road games against the likes of Kansas, Gonzaga and Ohio State – and went 0-13. Coach Mike Davis said it would harden his team for a run at the SWC title. It apparently did. At 15-19, they are the 26th team to get into the tournament with a losing record.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders had never led the Big 12 in scoring defense or field goal percentage defense in the league’s history. They did both this season.
UCLA: Aaron Holiday, with his 20.3 average and 5.8 assists a game, has joined some pretty renowned Bruins. The last UCLA guard to average at least 19 points was Reggie Miller, 31 years ago. The only other Bruin to average 19-5 in points and assists was Bill Walton in 1974.
UMBC: In two years on the job, Ryan Odom has taken the Retrievers from 7-25 to their first NCAA Tournament bid in a decade. He is the son of Dave Odom, who among other things while coaching Wake Forest, recruited a tall kid from the Virgin Islands named Tim Duncan.
UNC-Greensboro: As a player, Wes Miller went from walk-on to team captain for Roy Williams at North Carolina. Now he’s coaching a team that has won 16 of 18 and beat North Carolina State – the school’s first victory in history over an in-state ACC team.
Villanova: The streak is now 180. That’s how many games the Wildcats have gone without losing two in a row, back to 2013. It’s a good thing for everybody else the NCAA Tournament is not best-of-five.
Virginia: The Cavaliers were unranked in the preseason Associated Press poll. In last week’s ranking before the ACC tournament, they received every vote for No. 1.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies beat Duke, North Carolina and Virginia when all three were in the top-10. Nobody had done that in the ACC in 25 years.
West Virginia: With 843 career victories, Bob Huggins has the most wins of any coach in Division I history who has not won a national championship. Belmont’s Rick Byrd is second at 778.
Wichita State: In their first season in the American Athletic Conference, the Shockers had four league losses. They had that many in their last four years combined in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Wright State: Leading scorer Grant Benzinger’s father Todd played first base for the 1990 champion Cincinnati Reds and caught the last out in the World Series.
Xavier: While winning 103 games, the senior trio of Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and Sean O’Mara are also on track to graduate. That will make 108 Musketeer seniors in a row to get their degree.