Here are 25 fun facts — some noteworthy, some completely random — involving the NCAA tournament’s 68-team field.
Hopefully, these numbers-based revelations will help bring clarity to your bracket predictions.
1. Of the five previous times North Carolina and Villanova have met in the NCAA tournament (1982, 1985, 1991, 2005, 2009), the schools produced four national titles — with the lone exception in 1991, when the Tar Heels lost to Kansas in the Final Four semifinals.
2. Since the “pod” system was created in 2002, the top four seeds in each region own a staggering 34-1 record when playing the NCAA opener in their home state (including Maryland in Washington, D.C.). The only upset: Lehigh (15-seed) toppled No. 2 Duke in Greensboro, N.C. last year.
3. Of the last 20 tourneys (1993-2012), the No. 12 seed has upended the 5-seed 30 times (out of 80 opportunities), meaning there’s a 38-percent chance of at least one 12-5 shakedown every year. In that span, the 5 seeds have carried the freight in all four regions only twice (2000, 2007). On the flip side, the 12s took three of the four battles twice (2002, 2009).
4. Kansas and Michigan have combined for 64 tourney appearances, 20 Final Four berths and four national titles. And yet, the two prominent schools have never squared off in the NCAA tournament. (That could change in the Sweet 16 round.)
5. Creighton All-American candidate Doug McDermott (23.1 ppg) averaged 27.2 points in eight games against NCAA tourney-bound teams this season — Wisconsin, Boise State, St. Mary’s, California, Akron and Wichita State (three times).
6. Since the NCAAs started seeding teams in 1979, VCU is a perfect 3-0 in 5-vs.-12 matchups — winning twice as the 5 (1981, 1983) … and once as the 12 (last year against Wichita State).
7. How’s this for schizophrenic: Minnesota has averaged 75 points in its 20 victories this season … but only 59 points in the 12 losses — a figure that includes eight games of 53 points or less. Ugh.
8. Officially, UCLA has been knocked out of the tourney by only one Big Ten school in the last 20 years (Michigan, 1993). Unofficially, the Bruins also lost to Minnesota in the 1997 Midwest regional final … before the Golden Gophers were forced to vacate their four tourney victories (and conference title) from a Final Four campaign that, uh, never happened (NCAA violations).
9. Lon Kruger is the first head coach in history to lead five different programs to the NCAA tournament (Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV, Oklahoma). And of his four previous stops — before the Sooners, the No. 10 seed in the South region — Kruger was a perfect 4-0 in his first tourney game with a new school (1987, 1994, 1997, 2007).
10. Of the last 25 years, spanning eight tourney appearances and nine games, Montana’s average point differential is a minus-18.3. And yet, some national media pundits have the Grizzlies knocking off Syracuse in San Jose (Thursday).
11. Iowa State’s history in the NCAAs dates back to 1944. In that span, the Cyclones have never been eliminated by a Big East club. Granted, that league didn’t form until 1979 … but still, this might help those vacillating between the 7-10 matchup involving Notre Dame and Iowa State (West).
12. This nugget comes from FOX Sports South honcho Cory McCartney: Missouri is this season’s only tourney team to feature six double-digit scorers.
13. Since 1978, Marquette has been eliminated by only one school outside the power-six conferences (ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, Big East, Big 12) during the NCAA tournament: Tulsa in 2002 (Dwyane Wade’s sophomore campaign).
14. For the top half of the West bracket, I have Gonzaga, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Kansas State advancing to the Round of 32. The four coaches boast a combined record of 33-7 in NCAA tourney openers — Mark Few (10-3), Jamie Dixon (7-1), Bo Ryan (10-1) and Bruce Weber (6-2).
15. Miami has never lost an NCAA tourney game when holding the opposition to 64 points or less.
16. For this century, Creighton’s only two NCAA victories have come against SEC programs (Alabama, Florida).
17. Thirty-two years have elapsed since Ole Miss strode into the NCAA tournament as SEC champs (1981). For that season, Ole Miss (a 10-seed) got the quick boot against Kansas (Midwest region).
18. Guard Mark Lyons, Arizona’s leading scorer, has notched double figures in nine of his last 10 games. However, in that span, Lyons didn’t reach 20 points once … and the Wildcats posted a 5-5 record.
19. Colorado is 13-4 in games when leading scorer Spencer Dinwiddie (15.6 points per game) makes six or more free throws.
20. The magic number for Wichita State is … 65. Of the 26 games the Shockers reached that figure this season, they had a 23-3 record.
21. Cincinnati (10-seed in the Midwest) averaged only 54.7 points in its final 11 games, going 4-7 in that span. On the flip side, Creighton (UC’s Friday opponent) notched 55 or more points 33 times this season.
22. With the late Rick Majerus running the program last year, Saint Louis had a reputation for deliberate, tempo-controlled basketball. But under Jim Crews’ watch this season, the Billikens have only scored less than 60 points three times — losing twice.
23. Only two 20-loss teams have qualified for the NCAA tourney — Coppin State in 2008 and Liberty in 2013. And for these odd campaigns, both schools produced at least one winning streak of five games … and one losing skid of eight or more games.
24. No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast (South region) doesn’t have any NCAA tourney appearances on its program resume. But the school has one major trump card heading into matchup with No. 2 Georgetown:
The Eagles took down ACC champion Miami (also a 2-seed) on Nov. 13.
And then there’s this …
25. Georgetown’s last four losses in the NCAA tournament have come at the hands of double-digit seeds.