Read this before you hit submit
With more than three full days of dissecting, prognosticating and pontificating before bracket nuts everywhere finally, let's face it, just take their best guess at how this tournament will play out, here are some of the finer, lesser-known details about this year's field. Will they help you with your bracket? Who knows? But extra info can never hurt, so before you turn in your sheet or hit submit on your keyboard, digest these doozies:
ODDS ... AND ENDS
Actually, if you listen to Vegas, no team is particularly sizzling. No. 1 overall seed Louisville is the early favorite, but has plenty of teams on its tail. The Cardinals are 9-2 according to the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, but right behind the Cardinals are third overall No. 1 seed Indiana at 7-1 and three teams at 8-1 — No. 2 seeds Duke and Miami, along with Florida, a No. 3 seed. Louisville was actually a heavier favorite BEFORE it wrapped up the No. 1 seed, its odds worsening from 3-1 after selections were announced and the Cardinals landed in the same region as Duke, No. 3 seed Michigan State, No. 4 seed Saint Louis and No. 12 seed Oregon.
But you know whose odds are worse? Yours. If you want to win the FOXSports.com Bracket Challenge's $1 million grand prize, you have to have a perfect bracket. The odds of going 67-0 in the tournament? Less than 1 in 9 quintillion — that's a 9, followed by 18 zeros. If you used one sheet of paper for each possible bracket combination to ensure a win, all that paper, according to one mathematician, would not fit inside the universe. The good news, though? You only have to go 63-0 to win the FOXSports.com Bracket Challenge's $1 million grand prize — we don't count the play-in games!
But hey, even at less than 9,000,000,000,000,000,000-to-1 odds, you still have a better shot at glory than defending national champion Kentucky. The Wildcats did not even make the tournament this year, becoming the 20th defending champion to fail to make the tournament, according to STATS, LLC.
• The Atlantic-10 this season added famed Cinderellas Butler and VCU and it paid off, as the Bulldogs and Rams joined Saint Louis, Temple and La Salle in giving the conference five teams in the field, tying a conference record.
• The Mountain West Conference's five bids (New Mexico, Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, and UNLV) broke the conference record.
• The Pac-12 also had five teams — a dramatic improvement from last season's single bid for Colorado. But don't expect the folks in the league office to be doing any cartwheels. Oregon, despite winning the Pac-12 tournament, is a 12 seed and opening in San Jose, Calif., while Cal also earned a 12 seed and also opens in San Jose despite making the Pac-12 quarterfinals. UCLA, the regular-season champion and runner-up in the Pac-12 tournament, drew perhaps an even worse draw, the Bruins getting a 6 seed in the South Region and have to open against Minnesota. Rest assured; Minnesota will be one of the hottest — if not THE hottest — second-round upset pick.
• The Miami Hurricanes are the first team to ever win both the ACC regular-season and tournament titles and not receive a No. 1 seed. The Hurricanes are the No. 2 seed in the East.
• Safe to say this was the biggest Sunday in WCC history, as Gonzaga pulled in the conference's first No. 1 seed, being sent to the West Region. This is the Zags' 15th straight tournament appearance, but never have they faced such lofty expectations.
• The Big East was the dominant conference of the 1980s, thanks to players like Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, coaches such as John Thompson and Lou Carnesecca, and its league tournament at Madison Square Garden. But after this season, the conference as we know it will be history thanks to massive realignment that has overtaken college sports over the last few years. But the conference certainly isn't going quietly. Led by top overall seed, Louisville, the Big East placed eight teams in the tournament, more than any other league.
• The Big Ten was widely viewed as this season's dominant conference. Led by Indiana (No.1 in East) Ohio State (No. 2 in the West) and Michigan State (No. 3 in the Midwest), the Big Ten has seven teams in the field.
HOME & AWAY ... WAY AWAY
• We already told you about Cal getting to open practically down the road in San Jose despite its 12 seed. But they aren't alone in getting some home cooking.
• Ohio State, despite being a 2 seed in the West region, opens play in-state, vs. 15-seed Iona at Dayton, Ohio.
• Indiana, despite being called the first locked-in No. 1 seed by the selection committee, was not put in the Midwest Region with its regional final in Indianapolis. That path belongs to Louisville. The Hoosiers, the overall No. 3 seed, still don't have to travel too far, opening in Dayton, Ohio before heading to Washington, DC — should they make it that far.
• If Arizona and New Mexico win their openers, they will meet in the third round in Salt Lake City. Good luck getting tickets. The Wildcat and Lobo programs sport some of the best-traveling, rowdiest fans in the country, and it's a short flight from Tucson and Albuquerque to SLC.
• One team who better hope its fans travel well is Syracuse. The Orange, seeded fourth in the East Region, may have gotten the love in the seeding, but it sure didn't in the scheduling. Syracuse has the longest trip of any team to its opening game, with home in upstate New York and the second round site in San Jose, Calif., separated by more than 2,800 miles. What's more, if the Orange get by Montana, they face either Cal (50 miles from San Jose) or UNLV (a little more than 500 miles from San Jose). A close second? San Diego State, which has to travel more than 2,700 miles to face Oklahoma in Philadelphia.
• Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is the first coach in history to lead five different programs to the tournament (Oklahoma, UNLV, Illinois, Florida, and Kansas State). His Sooners will play San Diego State.
• Colorado State's Larry Eustachy is taking his fourth different team to the tournament. He previously made the field with Southern Mississippi, Iowa State and Utah State.
• If you're coaching in your first tournament, the South Region is not the place for you. A whopping 10 coaches in the region have led teams to the Final Four, and half have won a national championship (Billy Donovan, Florida; Bill Self, Kansas and Roy Williams, North Carolina all won titles at their current schools. San Diego State's Steve Fisher won a championship with Michigan and Minnesota's Tubby Smith won a title with Kentucky).
—The Associated Press contributed to this report