Before the NCAA tournament gets fully underway on Thursday, get to know each of the 68 schools in March Madness with some fascinating facts, excellent trivia, unknown stats and various tales involving beer, mustaches, Death Stars and Marty McFly.
A social sciences and humanities building at UC Davis is nicknamed The Death Star because of the building's "maze-like structure" and a poorly placed trash compactor that often traps students inside until they can be rescued by Harrison Ford.
Marquette has its own innertube water polo league.
A steam whistle nicknamed "Big Tooter," which sits high atop KU's power plant, goes off every hour to signal the end of classes and to disturb the restful slumber of students who slept through those classes.
UNC was founded on Dec. 11, 1789, six months after George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States. By Dec. 12, every North Carolina resident was saying that Washington was good, sure, but he was no Dean Smith.
NKU's sports teams are called the "Norse," which is pretty solid but made even more so when you meet their mascot Victor E. Viking, who looks like James Hetfield dressed up as the Minnesota Vikings mascot.
Villanova students interning at the Vatican helped create the Pope's Twitter account. The Young Pope's Twitter needed no such help because, you know, dude was so young.
There's a Quidditch club at VCU with a team named the Wizengamot. It's socially acceptable to know what one, and only one, of those means.
No matter what you think, you are still pronouncing it wrong.
And here's another. Picard's buddy Professor X ruined the pronunciation of this Jesuit university for all time.
Bobby Plump, the Milan high school basketball player who hit the winning shot in the 1954 Indiana state basketball championship and was later immortalized on screen as Jimmy Chitwood in Hoosiers, was a star at Butler. He led the team in scoring in 1958, currently stands at ninth on the school's points list, holds the school record for highest free-throw percentage in a game, had the school's free-throw record up until 2011 and was named part of Butler's all-century team. It was fitting the Hoosiers finale was filmed at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where Plump starred in college.
Purdue blatantly lies by saying its big bass drum, wheeled onto the field during football games, is "the world's largest." It's not, though. It's not! Guinness says the mark is held by an 18-foot Korean CheonGo drum that's a full eight feet bigger than Purdue's. For shame.
The original name of the Golden Flashes was Silver Foxes. Their mascot was Roger Sterling holding a tumbler of scotch and a lit Chesterfield.
The school got its nickname in 1895 when, after a blowout football win, The Chicago Tribune headlined an article: "Iowa Cyclone Devastates Northwestern, 36-0." If beating Northwestern inspired every opponent's nicknames, dozens of universities in the Midwest should be named after natural disasters.
The Razorbacks were originally called the Cardinals but got their new name in 1909 when a coach said that his team played like a "bunch of razorback" hogs. So basically, if you used a simile or metaphor to describe a college sports team at the end of the century, there was like a 25% chance the name would stick.
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One of the 21st century's greatest films, Legally Blonde, was filmed at UCLA, which is appropriate because students at the L.A. school actually have the real-life possibility of talking Cameron Diaz out of buying this truly heinous angora sweater at Fred Segal.
Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, taught classes at Cincinnati during the 1970s. Conversely, I once had a professor who took off a week because his bird died.
In 2005, Bucknell, as a No. 14 seed, upset No. 3 Kansas in the first round of the NCAA tourmament. But that was small peanuts for what was to come. A few months later, the Bison won the ESPY for upset of the year.
In the 1990s, Winthrop College was renamed Winthrop University or WU. I'm assuming it was because of a generous donation by Wu-Tang Clan member Masta Killa.
Given the football team's flirtations with hideous uniforms that feature neon yellow, slime green, winged shoulder pads and more chrome than a '59 Eldorado, I always thought the basketball team was woefully behind in the "fashion" department. And then, on Feb. 16, they wore the uniforms above that look like Donald Duck after an accident at a toxic waste plant.
This is the first time in the history of Western civilization that schools from both Dakotas are competing in the same NCAA tournament.
East Tennessee State
When you Google the name of a college, a familiar sidebar comes up with a map, address, phone number, directions and photos of the school. Oddly though, there are also reviews of the universities that are written just like people evaluating their local Olive Garden. Every school has one. Just a general tip: If you're relying on Google reviews to determine which university to attend, maybe college isn't for you.
This is the first NCAA tournament appearance for Rick Pitino's 34-year-old son. With that name comes great responsibility. If he doesn't wear an all-white suit and leave to run a beloved NBA franchise into the ground, his name will be mud. And Richard.
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No, it's not just you. After totally forgetting that Larry Brown was coaching at SMU for years, I too completely forgot that he stopped coaching there in June.
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When Creighton moved to the Big East, the school made a commercial designed to attract East Coast students to Nebraska. The ad basically made Creighton people sound like pompous jerks. In one scene, two guys are playing golf and one inquires about why he should attend Creighton. "Because I'll be your boss someday," came the response. Backlash was immediate from students, professors and alums and the ads were pulled. Only Duke students are allowed to say such pretentious, self-important things.
Case in point.
Bing Crosby is the Zags' most famous student. Among those vying for second place, Shirley Johnson (the founder of Tucker Creek Consulting), Paul Luvera (notable Seattle-area trial lawyer) and Adam Morrison (floor-sitting, floppy-haired cry-guy).
Even Bob Dylan is intrigued by WSU's Shocker mascot. "The WuShock is an anthropomorphic shock of wheat and the mascot of Wichita State University and, believe me, he's quite a sight to see," he said on his Theme Time Radio Hour. Though the show ended a decade ago, Dylan also thinks Wichita State got jobbed in their seeding this year.
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At the moment of this writing on Tuesday morning, Miami is the warmest spot in the continental U.S. while its opponent — Michigan State — was experiencing some of the coldest temperatures (12 degrees) in the nation.
The Pirates made their first tourney in 1988. A year later, they went to the national championship (the quickest rise in the 64-team era) but missed a potential game-winner as time expired. The Michigan defense was solid but the team's eyepatches couldn't have helped with depth perception.
The difference between a privateer, the team's mascot, and a pirate is that the former operates legally. The similarity, at least according to the old New Orleans logo, is that operating any sort of plundering sea vessel brings a high risk of major ocular injury.
Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder dropped out of Maryland after his freshman year in 1983. The instant Snyder left College Park, the Terrapins football team began a run of three-straight ACC titles and earned its first back-to-back bowl wins in school history. Fitting.
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Dayton has the third-happiest students in the country, according to The Princeton Review. Not so coincidentally, it also rates high on the list of schools that love their beer. Life lessons.
OSU cheerleaders have won the national championship in five of the last seven years, probably because Pistol Pete doesn't come out during routines to freak people's geek.
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New Mexico State
The school pays Oklahoma State $10 per year to license images of its old Pistol Pete logo, which was deemed too similar to OSU's. Now they just dress a regular guy up as a gunfighter, slap a mustache on him and call him Mr. Snrub.
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If not for USC, we may never have been introduced to time-traveling hero and guitar virtuoso Marty McFly. Back to the Future screenwriters Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale met at the university's film school as undergrads. Heavy.
Of schools in the field, Princeton has the lowest acceptance rate for applicants — only 8% are accepted. Most of the other 92% goes to Duke.
KSU has the highest acceptance rate for any school in the field. More than 99% of applicants are accepted.
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Directional schools aren't always placed where their names might suggest. There's a lot of the Bluegrass State west of Western Kentucky, for instance. Northern Arizona is closer to central Arizona than the North. But Middle Tennessee? That's literal, yo. The campus is located a half-mile from the geographic center of the Volunteer State.
There are five different Wildcats in this tournament, the most of any mascot.
There are 16 casinos within 10 miles of Nevada. They're in Reno but still ...
The Gaels play home games at the Hynes Athletics Center, which seats a maximum of 2,611 people. That's the smallest of any team in the tournament and the 32nd smallest in the NCAA.
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According to the Princeton Review, Rhode Island is one of the top schools for partying, "reefer madness" (hip, those Princeton Review folk are) and ignoring the election. In other words, three-for-three.
North Carolina Central
NCCU is located just four miles away from Duke which means that on a very serene winter's night, if you listen hard enough you can just make out Mike Krzyzewski whining at referees during Blue Devil home games.
Mount St. Mary's
The Mount, as it's nicknamed, is 436 feet above sea level.
The other St. Mary's, the one without "Mount" in its name, is 499 feet above sea level.
J. State is actually in Alabama, not Florida, which helps explain how a team from Jacksonville could experience sporting success.
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A school that sounds like the kid who had parties at his house because his parents always used to go away. However, the school is not named after a surfer brah who won a naming contest against Brody, Blake, Connor and Falcon. It's actually the name of the Alabama city where it's located. It's too bad they set up shop there as the next town over is called Youngblood.
Remember Taylor Coppenrath and Tom Brennan? Yeah, those cat(amount)s were all right.
The artists formerly known as Dunk City played a school this season named Ave Maria. It's a good tuneup for next year's mega-showdown with Fur Elise.
The school's fight song (which John Philip Sousa called the "finest" of college marching songs) was originally written for the University of Minnesota. I wish there were a cooler story about how it ended up at Wisconsin but it's basically just that some dude convinced the other dude to switch it around.
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Leonard Hamilton once coached Michael Jordan. Or, to be more specific, Leonard Hamilton once had the title of head coach while Michael Jordan made fun of Kwame Brown.
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One of the definitions of "providence" is "timely preparation for future eventualities." It can be used in the sentence: "USC, the First Four opponent for Providence, seeks providence for when NCAA sanctions end up stripping the football team of most of its 2016 victories."
USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
If Baylor athletics just ceased to exist, would anyone besides RG3 notice? Let's find out.
Sit down for this one: This is the first NCAA tournament appearance for Northwestern. You may not have heard about this impressive feat of getting into a field that Iona has made four of the past six years, but I assure you it's true. I only bring it up to shine some attention onto the story, as it's been criminally underreported in sports media.
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No tournament team has ever had as many losses as Vanderbilt's 15. (Somehow this got them a No. 9 seed, one better of a 30-4 Wichita State team.) Of the 11 teams to play in the tournament with 14 losses, eight lost their first game.
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Notre Dame football, the bastion of virtue, college athletics, amateurism and plucky janitors getting their chance to get a meaningless sack at the end of a meaningless game, has fewer bowl wins since 1995 than Wake Forest, a squad dubbed the worst of the 20th century due to its NCAA low 0.394 win percentage. Surely there are some 19-year-olds Brian Kelly can blame for that.
Michigan's Squirrel Club has over 400 members that come together for the noble purpose of feeding squirrels and making them unnaturally comfortable around humans. It's all fun and games until someone loses the tip of their index finger.
The Tigers are 25.5-point underdogs to North Carolina, the largest of any first-round game. Six games have one-point spreads which means that if Vegas is right, and they build $2 billion casinos there so they are, expect plenty of madness on Thursday and Friday.
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The Wildcats are making their record 56th appearance in the NCAA tournament, a whopping eight more than the No. 2 team on the list, North Carolina. Yet UK only has the sixth-best winning percentage. They did have that historic 40-0 year back in — no, wait (Googles "kentucky undefeated season") — sorry, my bad; Kentucky only went 38-1 in 2015. My mistake, BBN.
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National Geographic once declared Wilmington as one of the 20 top surfing towns in the world. But perhaps more importantly, much of Weekend at Bernie's was filmed in the city.
When I applied to Wake Forest, there was a Taco Bell on campus. When I got there, it had closed. Bravely, I stayed and graduated anyway.