If the upper-crust elite snobbily look down their noses, they might find their opponents boast the upper hand by looking down the barrel of a gun such as Ohio State against an "angry" Wichita State. Georgetown, which was embarrassed by Florida Gulf Coast, is one of 18 former national champions to lose multiple times in the tourney against members of lower-profile conferences seeded five or more places worse than the major university currently a member of one of the consensus power six leagues. Kansas has a high of six setbacks as a total of 12 former NCAA titlists have lost three or more such contests.
A total of 78 different lower-profile schools (after FGCU and La Salle) and current members of 23 different mid-major conferences (all but Great West, Northeast and Summit) have won such games since seeding was introduced in 1979. The mid-major school with the most "David vs. Goliath" victories among the following list is Richmond with six.
ACC (16 defeats to mid-major opponents seeded five or more places worse) - Boston College (lost to #12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2005); Clemson (lost to #13 Southwest Missouri State in 1987 and #11 Western Michigan in 1998); Duke (lost to #11 Virginia Commonwealth in 2007 and #15 Lehigh in 2012); Florida State (lost to #13 Middle Tennessee State in 1989); Georgia Tech (lost to #13 Richmond in 1988 and #13 Southern in 1993); Maryland (lost to #12 College of Charleston in 1997); North Carolina (lost to #9 Penn in 1979, #14 Weber State in 1999 and #11 George Mason in 2006); North Carolina State (lost to #14 Murray State in 1988); Virginia (lost to #12 Wyoming in 1987 and #12 Gonzaga in 2001); Wake Forest (#13 Cleveland State in 2009)
BIG EAST (27) - Connecticut (lost to #11 George Mason in 2006 and #13 San Diego in 2008); DePaul (#12 New Mexico State in 1992); Georgetown (#10 Davidson in 2008, #14 Ohio University in 2010, #11 Virginia Commonwealth in 2011 and #15 Florida Gulf Coast in 2013); Louisville (#12 Ball State in 1990, #12 Butler in 2003 and #13 Morehead State in 2011); Marquette (#12 Tulsa in 2002); Notre Dame (lost to #14 UALR in 1986, #11 Winthrop in 2007 and #11 Old Dominion in 2010); Pittsburgh (#10 Kent State in 2002, #13 Bradley in 2006 and #8 Butler in 2011); Providence (#12 Pacific in 2004); St. John's (#10 Gonzaga in 2000 and #11 Gonzaga in 2011); Seton Hall (#7 Western Kentucky in 1993); Syracuse (#7 Navy in 1986, #11 Rhode Island in 1988, #15 Richmond in 1991 and #13 Vermont in 2005); Villanova (#14 Old Dominion in 1995 and #10 Saint Mary's in 2010)
BIG TEN (23) - Illinois (lost to #14 Austin Peay State in 1987, #12 Dayton in 1990, #14 Chattanooga in 1997 and Western Kentucky in 2009); Indiana (#14 Cleveland State in 1986, #13 Richmond in 1988, #11 Pepperdine in 2000 and #13 Kent State in 2001); Iowa (#14 Northwestern State in 2006); Michigan (#11 Loyola Marymount in 1990 and #13 Ohio University in 2012); Michigan State (#14 Weber State in 1995 and #11 George Mason in 2006); Nebraska (#14 Xavier in 1991 and #11 Penn in 1994); Ohio State (#12 Utah State in 2001 and #9 Wichita State in 2013); Purdue (#11 Virginia Commonwealth in 2011); Wisconsin (#12 Southwest Missouri State in 1999, #11 Georgia State in 2001, #7 UNLV in 2007, #10 Davidson in 2008 and #12 Cornell in 2010)
BIG 12 (17) - Iowa State (lost to #15 Hampton in 2001); Kansas (#9 Texas-El Paso in 1992, #8 Rhode Island in 1998, #14 Bucknell in 2005, #13 Bradley in 2006, #9 Northern Iowa in 2010 and #11 Virginia Commonwealth in 2011); Kansas State (#11 Tulane in 1993 and #13 La Salle in 2013); Oklahoma (#13 Southwestern Louisiana in 1992, #13 Manhattan in 1995, #13 Indiana State in 2001 and #11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2006); Oklahoma State (#12 Princeton in 1983, #10 Temple in 1991 and #12 Tulsa in 1994); Texas Tech (#11 Southern Illinois in 2002)
PACIFIC-12 (17) - Arizona (lost to #14 East Tennessee State in 1992, #15 Santa Clara in 1993 and #12 Miami of Ohio in 1995); California (#12 Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1994); Oregon State (#10 Lamar in 1980, #11 Evansville in 1989 and #12 Ball State in 1990); Southern California (#13 UNC Wilmington in 2002); Stanford (#14 Siena in 1989 and #10 Gonzaga in 1999); UCLA (#12 Wyoming in 1987, #13 Penn State in 1991, #12 Tulsa in 1994, #13 Princeton in 1996 and #12 Detroit in 1999); Utah (#10 Miami of Ohio in 1999); Washington State (#12 Penn in 1980)
SEC (30) - Alabama (lost to #11 Lamar in 1983, #11 South Alabama in 1989, #10 Kent State in 2002 and #12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2005); Auburn (#12 Richmond in 1984); Florida (#12 Creighton in 2002, #12 Manhattan in 2003 and #8 Butler in 2011); Georgia (#14 Chattanooga in 1997 and #11 Southern Illinois in 2002); Kentucky (#7 UAB in 1981, #11 Middle Tennessee State in 1982 and #9 UAB in 2004); Louisiana State (#13 Navy in 1985 and #11 UAB in 2005); Mississippi (#13 Valparaiso in 1998); Mississippi State (#12 Eastern Michigan in 1991, #12 Butler in 2003 and #7 Xavier in 2004); Missouri (#13 Xavier in 1987, #11 Rhode Island in 1988, #14 Northern Iowa in 1990 and #15 Norfolk State in 2012); South Carolina (#15 Coppin State in 1997 and #14 Richmond in 1998); Tennessee (#12 Southwest Missouri State in 1999 and #7 Wichita State in 2006); Vanderbilt (#13 Siena in 2008, #13 Murray State in 2010 and #12 Richmond in 2011)
NOTES: Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were members of the Big Eight until 1997. Mizzou left the Big 12 for SEC in 2013. . . . Notre Dame was an independent in 1986. . . . Florida State, Louisville and Tulane were members of the Metro Conference in 1989, 1990 and 1993, respectively. . . . Dayton was a member of the Midwestern Collegiate in 1990. . . . DePaul was a member of the Great Midwest in 1992. . . . Texas-El Paso and Utah were members of the WAC in 1992 and 1999, respectively. . . . Marquette and Louisville were members of Conference USA in 2002 and 2004, respectively. . . . Tulsa was a member of Missouri Valley in 1994 and 2002. . . . Boston College was a member of the Big East in 2005.
Bobby Hurley Jr., who won more than 4/5 of his games as an All-American playmaker with Duke in the early 1990s (119-26, .821), assumes control of the Buffalo coaching position with an impressive pedigree including playing under his famous father in high school and all-time winningest DI coach Mike Krzyzewski of the Blue Devils.
But the odds are overwhelmingly against Hurley compiling a higher winning percentage as a coach than he did as a player. Indiana's Branch McCracken is the only one of the first 47 All-Americans who became major-college mentors to compile a higher winning percentage as a coach.
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 11 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia.com's year-by-year highlights):
1. Who is the only one of the 60 or so two-time consensus first-team All-Americans since 1946 never to participate in the NCAA Tournament or the NIT? Hint: His school was a total of 10 games over .500 in Big Ten Conference competition in his junior and senior seasons. He never played on a team to win a playoff series in his nine-year NBA career.
2. Who is the only player to score more than 20,000 pro points yet never reach the conference finals in the NBA playoffs after playing at least two seasons of varsity basketball at a major college and never participating in the NCAA Division I playoffs? Hint: The college he attended made its NCAA Tournament debut the first year after he left school early to become the third pick overall in the NBA draft.
3. Who is the only coach since the tourney field expanded to at least 48 teams to take two different universities to the playoffs when the schools appeared in the tournament for the first time? Hint: His last name begins with a "F" and he no longer is a Division I head coach.
4. Name the only school with a losing record to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs by winning a regular-season conference title. Hint: The league started a postseason tournament two years later and the school in question has lost all six times it reached the conference tourney championship game.
5. Name the only major university to have two graduates score more than 17,000 points in the NBA after playing at least three varsity seasons in college and failing to appear in the NCAA Tournament. Hint: The school has had three other players score more than 10,000 points in the NBA after never appearing in the NCAA playoffs.
6. Name the only former titlist to have an all-time playoff record 10 games below the .500 mark. Hint: Longtime network broadcaster Curt Gowdy played in the tournament for the school.
7. Name the only state with three schools to compile tournament records at least nine games below .500. Hint: The three institutions from the same state are members of different conferences.
8. Who was the only player shorter than Bobby Hurley, Duke's 6-0 guard, to play for a championship team and be selected as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player? Hint: There was another Final Four MOP who was also shorter than 6-0, but he played for a national third-place finisher in the mid-1950s.
9. Who is the only individual to play in an NCAA Tournament championship game and later coach his alma mater to a final? Hint: He served as an assistant to the coach with the most NCAA playoff victories and a college teammate is one of the winningest coaches of all time.
10. Name the only one of the schools with multiple national titles to have two teams participate in the NCAA playoffs as defending champions but lose their opening-round game. Hint: Both of the opening-round setbacks for the school when it was defending champion occurred in the East Regional.
We have been reminded anew how the NCAA playoffs are akin to walking a tightrope, playing Russian roulette or participating in a crapshoot. When March arrives, it's time for Madness while witnessing postseason competition fraught with sentiment and punctuated by compelling drama.
Since your bracket likely already is only good for kindling, it might be worth investing your time steering clear of the nerve-wracking tension and simply focusing on becoming a more astute observer. In addition to testing your skills with CollegeHoopedia.com's daily dose of one-and-only trivia questions or Top 75 games/players in NCAA playoff history, another way to enhance your knowledge might be to assess the wide range of personalities described in our "Who Am I?" collection of former tourney players who went on to distinction in endeavors off the playing court. At the very least, it won't be a win-or-go-home format.
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 10 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia's year-by-year highlights):
1. Who is the only All-American to coach three different schools in the NCAA playoffs? Hint: He was the leading scorer for an NCAA champion.
2. Who is the only coach to take three different schools to a regional final in a 10-year span? Hint: He is the only individual to meet two different schools in the playoffs he had previously coached to the Final Four. He had a chance to become the first coach to guide three different universities to the national semifinals, but retired and turned the reins over to his son.
3. Who is the only seven-foot player to lead a Final Four in scoring and win a conference high jump title in the same year? Hint: He is the only player to lead the NBA in rebounds and assists in the same season.
4. Of the total of 10 different teams in the 1980s to defeat a school twice in a season the opponent eventually won the national title, name the only one of the 10 to fail to win its NCAA Tournament opener. Hint: The team had the misfortune of opening the playoffs on the home court of its opponent.
5. Of the Final Four teams in the last several decades to have standouts whose high school coach was reunited with a star player as a college assistant, name the only school to win a national championship. Hint: The high school coach who tagged along with his prep All-American as a college assistant was also the first minority player to play for his alma mater.
6. Who is the only coach to take a team more than two games below .500 one season to the national title the next year? Hint: He is the only championship team coach to finish his college career with a losing record. He is also the only major-college coach to stay at a school at least 25 seasons and finish with a losing career record at that institution.
7. Who is the only coach to reach the national semifinals of the NCAA Tournament and NIT at least five times apiece? Hint: Of the coaches to win basketball championships at every major level (the NCAA, NIT and Summer Olympics), he is the only one to capture the "Triple Crown" in a span of less than 10 years.
8. Of the players to score more than 225 points in the playoffs and/or average in excess of 25 points per tournament game (minimum of six games), who is the only individual to score more than 22 points in every postseason contest? Hint: He is the only player from the group to have a single-digit differential between his highest-scoring game and his lowest-scoring game.
9. Who is the only one of the first 20 players to accumulate at least 235 points in NCAA playoff competition to fail to score at least 25 points in a tournament game? Hint: He is the only one of the more recent Most Outstanding Players to score fewer than 28 points in two Final Four games and his highest-scoring playoff performance couldn't avert a defeat in the only one of his four years he didn't participate in the Final Four.
10. Among the all-time leading scorers in NCAA Tournament history, who is the only player in this group to go scoreless in a playoff game? Hint: He scored less than 10 points in six consecutive tournament games before averaging 20 points per game in his last 11 playoff outings.
The Big Ten Conference boasts four teams among the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. But are these squads running on fumes when they reach the Final Four after getting beat up on all season in a rigorous league? Syracuse '03 (from the Big East) is the only national champion in the previous 15 years to emerge in a year when one of the power alliances supplied at least four representatives among the Sweet 16, comprising 37 schools from 1998 through 2012.
In 2009, the Big East became the only conference to have five playoff teams reach the regional semifinals in the same year. The ACC boasted four members advancing that far on eight occasions in a 12-year stretch from 1984 through 1995 but hasn't had that many entrants go to that level in the last 18 years. The ACC, upon adding Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse as new members, is likely to end this streak in the not-too-distant future.
The ACC in 1985 was the only league in this category not to have at least one of the quartet reach the Final Four until the Big East was foiled in 2006. Following is a look at the 24 times when thoroughbred leagues supplied at least four of the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament field expanded to at least 48 teams in 1980:
|Year||Power League||Four or More Members Reaching Sweet 16|
|1980||Big Ten||Indiana, z-Iowa, Ohio State, z-Purdue|
|1984||ACC||Maryland, North Carolina, z-Virginia, Wake Forest|
|1985||ACC||Georgia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State|
|1985||Big East||Boston College, y-Georgetown, z-St. John's, x-Villanova|
|1986||ACC||y-Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State|
|1986||SEC||Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, z-Louisiana State|
|1989||ACC||z-Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia|
|1989||Big Ten||z-Illinois, Indiana, x-Michigan, Minnesota|
|1990||ACC||Clemson, y-Duke, z-Georgia Tech, North Carolina|
|1992||ACC||x-Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina|
|1993||ACC||Florida State, x-North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest|
|1995||ACC||Maryland, z-North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest|
|1996||SEC||Arkansas, Georgia, x-Kentucky, z-Mississippi State|
|1997||Pacific-10||x-Arizona, California, Stanford, UCLA|
|1998||Pacific-10||Arizona, z-Stanford, UCLA, Washington|
|1999||Big Ten||Iowa, z-Michigan State, z-Ohio State, Purdue|
|2001||Pacific-10||y-Arizona, Southern California, Stanford, UCLA|
|2002||Big 12||z-Kansas, Missouri, z-Oklahoma, Texas|
|2003||Big East||Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, x-Syracuse|
|2006||Big East||Connecticut, Georgetown, Villanova, West Virginia|
|2009||Big East||z-Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, z-Villanova|
|2012||Big East||Cincinnati, z-Louisville, Marquette, Syracuse|
|2012||Big Ten||Indiana, Michigan State, z-Ohio State, Wisconsin|
|2013||Big Ten||Indiana, y-Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State|
x-Won NCAA championship
y-Finished national runner-up
z-Reached Final Four
There is a tendency to overindulge at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Anyone digesting the following assortment of incisive facts on the remaining 16 NCAA Tournament coaches should find that variety is the spice of CollegeHoopedia's smorgasbord. Remember: If a morsel isn't appetizing, don't be a glutton for punishment in trying to comprehend what makes the Sweet 16 coaching community tick. Just proceed directly to the next tidbit. Sooner or later, there's bound to be a factoid you can savor en route to the Final Four in New Orleans.
ARIZONA: Sean Miller was Big East Conference Freshman of the Year in 1987-88 with Pittsburgh (9.3 ppg, 5.8 apg, 85.1 FT%). He delivered the assist for teammate Jerome Lane's backboard-shattering dunk ("Send It In, Jerome!").
DUKE: Mike Krzyzewski was an assistant with Dave Bliss, Bob Donewald and Bob Weltlich on Indiana coach Bob Knight's staff in 1974-75. Krzyzewski, after losing to SUNY-Buffalo, Scranton (Pa.) and King's College (Pa.) in 1975-76 while coaching Army, compiled the worst three-year mark for the Blue Devils (38-47 from 1980-81 through 1982-83) since George Buckheit went 16-30 from 1925-25 through 1926-27.
FLORIDA: Billy Donovan, a third-round pick from Providence in the 1987 NBA draft by the Utah Jazz, was selected ahead of Yale center Chris Dudley. Donovan averaged 2.8 points per game his first two seasons with the Friars before averaging 18 ppg his last two campaigns. Donovan's teammates with the New York Knicks in 1987-88 included eventual Division I head coaches Sidney Green and Louis Orr. His high school coach (St. Agnes, N.Y.), Frank Morris, coached former Gators starting guard Teddy Dupay in high school (Ft. Myers, Fla.). Donovan was an assistant with Herb Sendek, Tubby Smith and Ralph Willard on Rick Pitino's coaching staff at Kentucky in 1989-90 after working with an investment banking firm on Wall Street. Donovan, who led the Big East Conference in steals in 1986-87 with 1.9 per game, is the son of William Donovan, Boston College's captain as a senior in 1961-62.
FLORIDA GULF COAST: Andy Enfield (Johns Hopkins '91) set the all-time NCAA career free-throw percentage record (92.5%; 431 of 466). His wife, Amanda Marcum, is a Maxim cover girl.
KANSAS: Bill Self served as an assistant on the Big Eight Conference coaching staffs of Larry Brown (Kansas) and Eddie Sutton (Oklahoma State). Self, an Oklahoma State alumnus, played in the Big Eight against Maryland coach Mark Turgeon (Kansas) and top two NBA draft picks Steve Stipanovich (2nd selection overall in 1983/attended Missouri), Wayman Tisdale (2nd in 1985/Oklahoma) and Danny Manning (1st in 1988/Kansas). Self, Oklahoma's High School Player of the Year over Tisdale in 1980-81, directed Oral Roberts to the nation's best winning percentage among independent schools in 1996 (18-9) and 1997 (21-7).
LA SALLE: When Dr. John Giannini was a 6-5 forward at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., he was captain and named All-College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin in 1981 and 1983.
LOUISVILLE: Rick Pitino averaged more assists per game (5.6) than points (4.7) in his two-year playing career with Massachusetts. Al Skinner, Boston College's all-time winningest coach, was captain of the 1973-74 UMass squad that was led in assists by Pitino for the second straight season.
MARQUETTE: Brent "Buzz" Williams received his nickname while attending Navarro College, where he "buzzed" around the junior college basketball team so often the coach issued him the moniker.
MICHIGAN: John Beilein is the only active mentor in the country to register 20-win seasons at the junior college, NAIA, NCAA Division II and NCAA Division I levels. A 22-7 record in 1993-94 in his second year at the major-college level with Canisius was the winningest in school history at the time and came only two seasons after the Golden Griffins suffered an all-time high in defeats (8-22 mark in 1991-92). His uncle, Joe Niland, coached Canisius for five seasons from 1948-49 through 1952-53.
MICHIGAN STATE: Tom Izzo was a teammate in high school (Iron Mountain, Mich.) and college (Northern Michigan) of former Detroit Lions coach Steve Mariucci. Izzo, a running back, and Mariucci, a quarterback, were the best men in each others' weddings.
OHIO STATE: Thad Matta, a transfer from Southern Illinois, led Butler in assists and three-point field-goal percentage in 1987-88 and free-throw percentage in 1988-89. He was involved in postseason play in each of his six seasons as a full-time assistant coach from 1994-95 through 1999-2000 with Miami (Ohio), Western Carolina and Butler. At first glance, Matta is a native of the ultimate smaller Illinois basketball community named Hoopeston. However, the town rhymes with "up" not "hoop."
OREGON: Dana Altman is the only coach in Creighton history to participate in at least five consecutive national postseason tournaments. The Bluejays appeared in either the NCAA playoffs or NIT in 12 straight years from 1998 through 2009.
SYRACUSE: Jim Boeheim, an avid golfer, served as varsity golf coach for the Orange from 1967 until the program was disbanded in 1973. He was an assistant basketball coach under Roy Danforth during that period. Boeheim, a three-year teammate of Syracuse All-American Dave Bing in the mid-1960s, played in the CBA for the Scranton Miners. On five occasions (1977-84-96-01-03), Boeheim guided the Orangemen to the Top 20 in a final AP poll after they were not ranked that high in the preseason.
WICHITA STATE: Gregg Marshall, after his birth in Greenwood, S.C., spent the first 3 1/2 years of his life on College Avenue, which is located adjacent to his previous coaching stop (Winthrop's campus).
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 9 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia's year-by-year highlights):
1. Who was the only athlete to lead his championship team in scoring in two Final Four games and pitch in the major leagues the same year? Hint: He was a guard for three consecutive Final Four teams and was selected to the All-NCAA Tournament team as a senior.
2. Name the only school with more than 1,300 victories in the 20th Century never to reach the Final Four. Hint: The school participated in the NCAA playoffs just once (1992) in the last 40-plus years.
3. Name the only school to defeat a team three times in a season the opponent captured the NCAA title. Hint: The school also defeated the same conference foe three times the next season as defending national champion.
4. Name the only champion to win its two Final Four games by a total of more than 50 points. Hint: The titlist suffered its only loss that season against one of the Final Four victims.
5. Of the 35 Final Four Most Outstanding Players selected from 1946 through 1981 when there was a national third-place game, who was the only honoree to play for a fourth-place team? Hint: He never averaged as many as nine points per game in four NBA seasons.
6. Name the only school to lose in back-to-back years in the first round to different institutions going on to capture national titles those years. Hint: The school won a total of 47 games in the two seasons. The two defeats were in the middle of six consecutive playoff appearances for the school after it appeared in the playoffs just once from 1939 through 1982.
7. Name the only year four teams arrived at the national semifinals with a composite winning percentage of less than 75 percent. Hint: The two schools that met in the national third-place game are traditional football powers. The college losing both of its Final Four games that year is the only national semifinalist to finish a season with as many as 14 defeats.
8. Who is the only player to score more than 60 points in a single playoff game and to score more than 43 points at least twice? Hint: Of the players who scored more than 235 playoff points and/or averaged more than 25 points per tournament game (minimum of three games), he is the only individual from the select group to have a losing playoff record. He is the only one of the top 25 playoff scorers never to reach the Final Four.
9. Who is the only male player to score more than 44 points in a single Final Four game? Hint: He is the only player to twice convert more than 12 free throws without a miss in a playoff game.
10. Who is the only player to score more than 400 points in his playoff career? Hint: The only individual to start in four straight Final Fours hit two last-second shots to help his team win East Regional final overtime games and is the only player with at least 10 championship game free-throw attempts to convert all of them.
Let's go to the videotape! Did ESPN elitists make such disparaging remarks about #1 seeds from power conferences losing in the second round as they do regarding Gonzaga's defeat against Wichita State? The condescending comments from analysts such as Adrian Branch zinging the Zags as unworthy of a #1 seed are as ridiculous as blaming Branch for not keeping Maryland teammate Len Bias on the straight and narrow.
For all the bitter disappointment experienced by fans of a highly-ranked team unexpectedly bowing out of the provocative NCAA Tournament, there is an equal amount of euphoria emanating from supporters of the victor. The range of disparate emotions is one of the reasons there is such a fascination with upsets because nothing is guaranteed when a traditional power opposes a darkhorse.
The ultimate in March Madness materialized in 1993 when Arizona, ranked fifth by AP, was stunned in the first round of the West Regional by Santa Clara (64-61). In terms of point spreads, it was the biggest upset in NCAA playoff history because Santa Clara was a 20-point underdog. The next largest point spread to not hold up occurred in 1986 when 17 1/2-point underdog Arkansas-Little Rock shocked Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional (90-83). Was Branch colleague Digger Phelps' Irish squad unworthy of a #3 seed in 1986?
A total of 20 No. 1 seeds, including DePaul three straight years from 1980 through 1982, failed to reach the regional semifinals since seeding was introduced in 1979. Gonzaga, the first mid-major in this category, joined the following crestfallen top-ranked teams:
|Year||No. 1 Seed||Regional||Loss in Second Round||Score|
|1979||North Carolina||East||#9 seed Penn||72-71|
|1981||DePaul||Mideast||#9 St. Joseph's||49-48|
|1981||Oregon State||West||#8 Kansas State||50-48|
|1982||DePaul||Midwest||#8 Boston College||82-75|
|1986||St. John's||West||#8 Auburn||81-65|
|1990||Oklahoma||Midwest||#8 North Carolina||79-77|
|1992||Kansas||Midwest||#9 Texas-El Paso||66-60|
|1994||North Carolina||East||#9 Boston College||75-72|
|1998||Kansas||Midwest||#8 Rhode Island||80-75|
|2000||Stanford||South||#8 North Carolina||60-53|
|2002||Cincinnati||West||#8 UCLA||105-101 (2OT)|
|2004||Kentucky||St. Louis/Midwest||#9 UAB||76-75|
|2010||Kansas||Midwest||#9 Northern Iowa||69-67|
|2013||Gonzaga||West||#9 Wichita State||76-70|
You can be grounded with turkeys (overcoached power league members full of control freaks) or fly with eagles (infinitely more entertaining mid-majors with coaches who don't take themselves so seriously). Free-spirited Florida Gulf Coast, the first #15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, and La Salle became the eighth and ninth schools to win two games while seeded #13 or worse.
An average of three double-digit seeded teams reached a regional semifinal the last six years. In 2001, Gonzaga became the first school to advance to regional semifinals in three consecutive campaigns despite having a double-digit seed each year. Prior to the Zags' streak, LSU had been the only "double trouble" school to advance to regional semifinals in back-to-back seasons with double-digit seeded teams (1986 and 1987).
The worst-seeded teams to reach the Final Four and defeat a top seed were a pair of No. 11 seeds (LSU in 1986 and VCU in 2011). Loyola Marymount, an #11 seed in 1990, won its first two games that year by at least 19 points. Following is a chronological list of "bottom of the bracket" seeded squads (#13 through #15) that ignored the Division I committee's branding and exceeded expectations:
|Year||School||Regional||First Two NCAA Tournament Opponents (Scores)|
|1986||#14 Cleveland State||East||Indiana (83-79) and St. Joseph's (75-69)|
|1988||#13 Richmond||East||Indiana (72-69) and Georgia Tech (59-55)|
|1997||#14 Chattanooga||Southeast||Georgia (73-70) and Illinois (75-63)|
|1998||#13 Valparaiso||Midwest||Ole Miss (70-69) and Florida State (83-77)|
|1999||#13 Oklahoma||Midwest||Arizona (61-60) and UNC Charlotte (85-72)|
|2006||#13 Bradley||West||Kansas (77-73) and Pittsburgh (72-66)|
|2012||#13 Ohio University||Midwest||Michigan (65-60) and South Florida (62-56)|
|2013||#15 Florida Gulf Coast||South||Georgetown (78-68) and San Diego State (81-71)|
|2013||#13 La Salle*||West||Kansas State (63-61) and Ole Miss (76-74)|
*La Salle also won a First Four game against Boise State (80-71).
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 8 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia's year-by-year highlights):
1. Name the only school to reach the Final Four three consecutive years on two separate occasions in the 20th Century. Hint: In the first three-year stretch, it became the only school to lose three straight national semifinal games. In the second three-year stretch, the school was involved in the only times two teams from the same state met each other in the championship game.
2. What was the only year two undefeated teams reached the Final Four? Hint: One of the squads had a perfect ending after winning in the national semifinals and championship game by an average of 16 points, while the other club that was unbeaten lost in the national semifinals and third-place game by an average of 15 points.
3. Who is the shortest player to lead an NCAA champion in scoring average? Hint: He was part of a three-guard starting lineup, averaging under 5-10 in height, that played the entire championship game for the only current Division I school to capture an NCAA title despite never having an NCAA consensus first- or second-team All-America.
4. Who is the only U.S. Olympic basketball coach to win the NCAA and NIT titles with different schools? Hint: He never participated in a national postseason tournament with the third university he coached (Michigan State).
5. Who was the only coach to direct two different schools to the Final Four twice apiece in the 20th Century? Hint: He is the only coach to compile a record of more than four games under .500 in Final Four contests and the only coach to guide three teams to national fourth-place finishes.
6. Who is the only coach of a championship team other than Rick Pitino to subsequently coach another university and compile a winning NCAA playoff record at his last major-college job? Hint: He is the only coach to win a national title at a school where he stayed less than five seasons.
7. Of the coaches to reach the national semifinals at least twice, who is the only one to compile an undefeated Final Four record? Hint: He won both of his championship games against the same school. He is also the only NCAA consensus first-team All-American to later coach his alma mater to an NCAA title.
8. Name the only school to lead UCLA at halftime in the 22 Final Four games for the Bruins' 11 titlists. Hint: The school that led one of the 11 UCLA champions at intermission of a Final Four game was coached by a John Wooden protege.
9. Of the coaches hired by NBA teams after winning an NCAA championship, who is the only one to compile a non-losing NBA playoff record? Hint: He is one of four different men to coach an undefeated NCAA championship team.
10. Name the only school to defeat a team by as many as 27 points in a season the opponent wound up winning the national title. Hint: The school is also the only one to defeat an eventual national titlist twice in the same season by at least 12 points.
First-time entrants into the NCAA playoffs get no sympathy. The average seeding was #14 for the 40 schools making their tournament debuts since the bracket included at least 64 teams. Florida Gulf Coast, which upset #2 seed Georgetown, 78-68, in the Eagles' first-ever NCAA tourney contest became the first #15 seed ever to reach a Sweet 16 by upending San Diego State.
FGCU, which defeated Miami (Fla.) in non-league competition before the Hurricanes won both the ACC regular-season and tournament titles, will meet Florida in the South Regional semifinals. Many observers know Florida captured back-to-back NCAA crowns but fail to point out those twin titles occurred only 20 years after the Gators' first NCAA playoff appearance in 1987. Newcomers assert themselves when they receive a decent draw. A majority of first-timers with seedings of 10th or better in the late 1980s and early 1990s won their first-round games, including all three times when they had better seeds (sixth-seeded Florida in 1987, seventh-seeded New Orleans in 1987 and eighth-seeded Seton Hall in 1988).
Of the schools making their tournament debuts since the field expanded to at least 52 teams, almost one-fourth of them survived the first round. Three opening-round winners in the mid-1980s also won their next game - Georgia '83, Cleveland State '86 and Florida '87. Georgia '83 was the ultimate underdog. The Bulldogs, the only first-time entrant seeded better than fifth (No. 4 seed in the East Regional) since the field expanded to at least 48 teams in 1980, reached the Final Four.
Following is a chronological list of newcomers who won their debuts since seeding was introduced in 1979:
|Year||NCAA Playoff Newcomer||Debut-Game Victim||Score||Regional|
|1980||#8 Alcorn State||South Alabama||70-62||Midwest|
|1980||#6 Clemson||Utah State||76-73||West|
|1981||#10 James Madison||Georgetown||61-55||East|
|1981||#11 Northeastern||Fresno State||55-53||West|
|1981||#7 UAB||Western Kentucky||93-68||Mideast|
|1983||#4 Georgia||Virginia Commonwealth||56-54||East|
|1984||#10 Louisiana Tech||Fresno State||66-56||Midwest|
|1986||#14 Cleveland State||Indiana||83-79||East|
|1986||#14 UALR||Notre Dame||90-83||Midwest|
|1987||#6 Florida||North Carolina State||82-70||East|
|1987||#7 New Orleans||Brigham Young||83-79||Southeast|
|1987||#13 Southwest Missouri State||Clemson||65-60||Southeast|
|1988||#8 Seton Hall||Texas-El Paso||80-64||West|
|1990||#14 Northern Iowa||Missouri||74-71||Southeast|
|1992||#10 Tulane||St. John's||61-57||Southeast|
|2001||#15 Hampton||Iowa State||58-57||West|
|2003||UNC Asheville*||Texas Southern||92-84 (OT)||South|
|2012||#15 Norfolk State||Missouri||86-84||West|
|2013||#15 Florida Gulf Coast||Georgetown||78-68||South|
There is a clear and present danger for pole sitters such as Gonzaga. Last year, Kentucky became only the fourth of 30 schools atop the national rankings entering the NCAA playoffs since 1983 to capture the national championship.
In 2006, Duke became the ninth No. 1 team in 17 years to fail to advance to a regional final when the Blue Devils were eliminated by LSU. In 1992, Duke defied a trend by becoming the first top-ranked team in 10 years entering the NCAA Tournament to win a national title. The previous five top-ranked teams failed to reach the championship game. UNLV lost twice in the national semifinals (1987 and 1991) and Temple '88, Arizona '89 and Oklahoma '90 failed to reach the Final Four.
Temple, a 63-53 loser against Duke in the 1988 East Regional final, and Kansas State, an 85-75 loser against Cincinnati in the 1959 Midwest Regional final, are the only teams ranked No. 1 by both AP and UPI entering the tourney to lose by a double-digit margin before the Final Four.
The school gaining the sweetest revenge against a top-ranked team was St. John's in 1952. Defending NCAA champion Kentucky humiliated the Redmen by 41 points (81-40) early in the season when the Catholic institution became the first to have a black player on the floor at Lexington, Ky. The player, Solly Walker, played only a few minutes before he took a hit sidelining him for three weeks. But St. John's, sparked by center Bob Zawoluk's 32 points, avenged the rout by eliminating the Wildcats (64-57) in the East Regional, ending their 23-game winning streak. The Redmen, who then defeated second-ranked Illinois in the national semifinals, lost against Kansas in the NCAA final.
In the 1982 championship game, North Carolina needed a basket with 16 seconds remaining from freshman Michael Jordan to nip Georgetown, 63-62, and become the only top-ranked team in 13 years from 1979 through 1991 to capture the NCAA title. It was a particularly bitter pill to swallow for seven of the 11 top-ranked teams to lose in the NCAA championship game in overtime or by two or three points in regulation.
Gonzaga is the latest #1 to learn it's win or go home. Less than one-third of them captured the NCAA crown. Following is analysis sizing up how the No. 1 teams fared in the NCAA playoffs since the Associated Press introduced national rankings in 1949:
20 - Won national title (Kentucky '49; Kentucky '51; Indiana '53; San Francisco '56; North Carolina '57; UCLA '64; UCLA '67; UCLA '69; UCLA '71; UCLA '72; UCLA '73; North Carolina State '74; UCLA '75; Indiana '76; Kentucky '78; North Carolina '82; Duke '92; UCLA '95, Duke '01, and Kentucky '12.
13 - Finished as national runner-up (Bradley '50/defeated by CCNY; Ohio State '61/Cincinnati; Ohio State '62/Cincinnati; Cincinnati '63/Loyola of Chicago; Michigan '65/UCLA; Kentucky '66/Texas Western; Indiana State '79/Michigan State; Houston '83/North Carolina State; Georgetown '85/Villanova; Duke '86/Louisville; Duke '99/Connecticut; Illinois '05/North Carolina, and Ohio State '07/Florida).
7 - Lost in national semifinals (Cincinnati '60/defeated by California; Houston '68/UCLA; UNLV '87/Indiana; UNLV '91/Duke; Massachusetts '96/Kentucky; North Carolina '98/Utah, and North Carolina '08/Kansas).
8 - Lost in regional finals (Kentucky '52/defeated by St. John's; Kansas State '59/Cincinnati; Kentucky '70/Jacksonville; Michigan '77/UNC Charlotte; Temple '88/Duke; Indiana '93/Kansas, and Kentucky '03/Marquette, and Louisville '09/Michigan State).
7 - Lost in regional semifinals (North Carolina '84/defeated by Indiana; Arizona '89/UNLV; Kansas '97/Arizona; Duke '00/Florida; Duke '02/Indiana); Duke '06/Louisiana State, and Ohio State '11/Kentucky).
7 - Lost in second round (DePaul '80/defeated by UCLA; DePaul '81/St. Joseph's; Oklahoma '90/North Carolina; North Carolina '94/Boston College; Stanford '04/Alabama; Kansas '10/Northern Iowa), and Gonzaga '13/Wichita State).
1 - Lost in first round (West Virginia '58/defeated by Manhattan).
1 - Declined a berth (Kentucky '54).
NOTE: After United Press International started ranking teams in 1951, UPI had just three different No. 1 teams entering the national playoffs than AP - Indiana lost in the 1954 East Regional semifinals against Notre Dame, California finished as 1960 national runner-up to Ohio State and Indiana lost in 1975 Mideast Regional final against Kentucky.
Georgetown coach John Thompson III may have more difficulty recovering mentally from the Hoyas' opening-game setback against Florida Gulf Coast than QB Robert Griffin III will physically from knee injury to be ready for the Redskins' season opener.
JT III joined Bobby Cremins as the only coaches in NCAA Tournament history to be eliminated four straight seasons from the playoffs by opponents with double-digit seeds. Granted, seedings can be very misleading after the process was introduced in 1979. With more parity and balance than ever before, there isn't much difference between a No. 4 seed and a No. 13 seed.
But Thompson might need to be inoculated against teams with worse seeds. The Hoyas also lost under him in 2008 against #10 seed Davidson. Following is an alphabetical list of prominent coaches absorbing at least three NCAA Tournament defeats in a span of 10 years or fewer with the same school against opponents with double-digit seeds:
|Marquee Coach||School||Three or More Losses Against Double-Digit Seeded Opponents|
|Jim Boeheim||Syracuse||1991/#15 Richmond, 2005/#13 Vermont, 2006/#12 Texas A&M and 2011/#11 Marquette|
|Dale Brown||Louisiana State||1984/lost to #10 Dayton, 1985/#13 Navy, and 1991/#11 Connecticut|
|Bobby Cremins||Georgia Tech||1986/#11 LSU, 1987/#10 LSU, 1988/#13 Richmond, 1989/#11 Texas and 1993/#13 Southern|
|Lou Henson||Illinois||1983/#10 Utah, 1987/#14 Austin Peay State and 1990/#12 Dayton|
|Gene Keady||Purdue||1985/#11 Auburn, 1986/#11 Louisiana State, 1990/#10 Texas, 1991/#10 Temple and 1995/#14 Wisconsin-Green Bay|
|Ralph Miller||Oregon State||1980/#10 Lamar, 1984/#11 West Virginia and 1989/#11 Evansville|
|Lute Olson||Arizona||1992/#14 East Tennessee State, 1993/#15 Santa Clara and 1995/#12 Ball State|
|Bo Ryan||Wisconsin||2008/#10 Davidson, 2010/#12 Cornell and 2013/#12 Ole Miss|
|Wimp Sanderson||Alabama||1983/#11 Lamar, 1989/#11 South Alabama, and 1990/#11 Loyola Marymount|
|Bill Self||Kansas||2005/#14 Bucknell, 2006/#13 Bradley and 2011/#11 Virginia Commonwealth|
|Kevin Stallings||Vanderbilt||2008/#13 Siena, 2010/#13 Murray State and 2011/#12 Richmond|
|Norm Stewart||Missouri||1987/#13 Xavier, 1988/#11 Rhode Island, and 1990/#14 Northern Iowa|
|John Thompson III||Georgetown||2008/#10 Davidson, 2010/#14 Ohio University, 2011/#11 Virginia Commonwealth, 2012/#11 North Carolina State and 2013/#15 Florida Gulf Coast|
|Billy Tubbs||Oklahoma||1984/#10 Dayton, 1986/#12 DePaul and 1992/#13 Southwestern Louisiana|
Most coaches leaving a school that just appeared in the NCAA playoffs are bound for a program in turmoil or requiring rehab. Illinois' John Groce became only the 14th coach to win at least one NCAA Tournament game in back-to-back seasons with different schools. But Groce wasn't the first coach so far this century to enjoy immediate promising tourney results with the Illini. Kansas' Bill Self, the only individual to achieve the feat twice, is the lone mentor to reach a regional final in back-to-back seasons with two different schools (Tulsa in 2000 and Illinois in 2001).
Tippy Dye (Ohio State in 1950 and Washington in 1951) went 35 years as the only coach in this category until Eddie Sutton duplicated the achievement (Arkansas in 1985 and Kentucky in 1986). Similar to Self, Minnesota's Tubby Smith (Tulsa in 1995 and Georgia in 1996) and Ohio State's Thad Matta (Butler in 2001 and Xavier in 2002) achieved the feat at previous pitstops. Following is a chronological list of coaches continuing their winning ways in the NCAA playoffs after switching jobs:
|Playoff Coach||1st School (Year/Record)||2nd School (Year/Record)|
|Tippy Dye||Ohio State (1950/1-1)||Washington (1951/2-1)|
|Eddie Sutton||Arkansas (1985/1-1)||Kentucky (1986/3-1)|
|Paul Evans||Navy (1986/3-1)||Pittsburgh (1987/1-1)|
|Tom Penders||Rhode Island (1988/2-1)||Texas (1989/1-1)|
|Tubby Smith||Tulsa (1995/2-1)||Georgia (1996/2-1)|
|Ben Braun||Eastern Michigan (1996/1-1)||California (1997/2-1)|
|Steve Robinson||Tulsa (1997/1-1)||Florida State (1998/1-1)|
|Bill Self||Tulsa (2000/3-1)||Illinois (2001/3-1)|
|Thad Matta||Butler (2001/1-1)||Xavier (2002/1-1)|
|Bill Self||Illinois (2003/1-1)||Kansas (2004/3-1)|
|Roy Williams||Kansas (2003/5-1)||North Carolina (2004/1-1)|
|Bruce Pearl||Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2005/2-1)||Tennessee (2006/1-1)|
|Trent Johnson||Stanford (2008/2-1)||Louisiana State (2009/1-1)|
|John Calipari||Memphis (2009/2-1)||Kentucky (2010/3-1)|
|John Groce||Ohio University (2012/2-1)||Illinois (2013/1-1)|
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 7 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia's year-by-year highlights):
1. Name the only coach to grace the NCAA playoffs in five decades. Hint: He achieved the feat with four different universities.
2. Who is the only player to score a team-high point total in his prominent school's first NCAA Tournament victory the same year he earned All-American honors as a quarterback for a national football champion? Hint: He later became executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after coaching two different universities when they participated in the Rose Bowl.
3. Who is the only individual to be more than 10 games below .500 in his initial campaign as a major-college head coach and subsequently guide a team to a national championship? Hint: He won his last 10 NCAA Tournament games decided by fewer than five points. In his last two playoff appearances with the former titlist, it became the only school to receive at-large bids in back-to-back years with as many as 14 defeats entering the tourney.
4. Name the only school to be denied three NCAA Tournament berths because it was on probation. Hint: The three times the school didn't participate in the national playoffs because of NCAA probation were from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.
5. Who was the only player to score more than 40 points in his first tournament game? Hint: The school he played for is tied with UCLA for the most different coaches (seven) who directed teams to the national tournament. Also, the university left the Division I level for 28 years and was UCLA's first victim when the Bruins started a 38-game winning streak in the playoffs. He and his twin brother were infielders together with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
6. Name the only school to deploy just five players in an entire championship game. Hint: The school, participating in the playoffs for the first time that year, set a record for largest winning margin with a 69-point victory in its first-round game. The school is the only former NCAA champion never to compete against legendary coaches Bob Knight and Dean Smith.
7. Who is the only individual to go as many as 25 years between coaching teams in the NCAA Tournament? Hint: His first two playoff teams were eliminated in their tourney openers by eventual championship game participants.
8. Name the only school to have more than one two-time first-team All-American never reach the Final Four. Hint: One of the players is the only three-time first-team All-America to fail to appear in the NCAA playoffs. The school is the only top four seed to lose a first-round game by more than 20 points.
9. Who is the only player to have season scoring averages of fewer than 10 points per game in back-to-back years he was named to the All-NCAA Tournament team? Hint: His school reached the national championship game each season and had two different centers named Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Also, he is part of the only set of brothers to play together in two NCAA title games. One of their teammates became a marquee coach.
10. Who is the only individual to play for an NCAA basketball champion and in a major league baseball World Series? Hint: He was primarily a relief pitcher for six different teams in 13 big league seasons from 1975 through 1989.
In the first six years of the NCAA Tournament seeding process from 1979 through 1984 when the playoff field ranged from 40 to 53 teams, a total of 13 No. 1 and 2 seeds lost their openers. The NCAA tourney hasn't been saturated with authentic upsets since the playoff field expanded to at least 64 teams in 1985, but there has been only four years without a first-round shocker from the bottom of the bracket (1994, 2000, 2004 and 2007).
Teams seeded 13th or worse defeated teams seeded among the top four in a regional a total of 48 times in the last 29 years. NCAA playoff newcomer Florida Gulf Coast, leading by 19 points in the second half, appeared as if it was going to challenge for the most decisive triumph in this category before settling to become one of nine double-digit margin winners among the #13 through #15 seeds (78-68 over Georgetown). Navy overwhelmed LSU by 23 points in 1985 and Siena smothered Vanderbilt by 21 points in 2008.
Thirty-six of the 48 poignant surprises were decided by fewer than seven points or in overtime. Arizona's stunning defeat against Santa Clara in 1993 materialized despite the Wildcats reeling off 25 unanswered points in a stretch bridging the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half.
A #16 seed never has defeated a #1. But here is a rundown of the first 48 first-round knockouts by the bottom of the bracket (#13, #14 and #15 seeds) since the NCAA field expanded to at least 64 teams in 1985:
#15 seed (7 victories)
|Year||#15 Seed Winner||#2 Seed Loser||Score|
|1997||Coppin State||South Carolina||78-65|
|2013||Florida Gulf Coast||Georgetown||78-68|
#14 seed (16 victories)
|Year||#14 Seed Winner||#3 Seed Loser||Score|
|1986||Arkansas-Little Rock||Notre Dame||90-83|
|1987||Austin Peay State||Illinois||68-67|
|1988||Murray State||North Carolina State||78-75|
|1992||East Tennessee State||Arizona||87-80|
|1995||Weber State||Michigan State||79-72|
|1995||Old Dominion||Villanova||89-81 (3ot)|
|1999||Weber State||North Carolina||76-74|
#13 seed (25 victories)
|Year||#13 Seed Winner||#4 Seed Loser||Score|
|1987||Southwest Missouri State||Clemson||65-60|
|1989||Middle Tennessee State||Florida State||97-83|
|1993||Southern (La.)||Georgia Tech||93-78|
|2001||Indiana State||Oklahoma||70-68 (ot)|
|2002||UNC Wilmington||Southern California||93-89 (ot)|
|2008||San Diego||Connecticut||70-69 (ot)|
|2009||Cleveland State||Wake Forest||84-69|
|2013||La Salle||Kansas State||63-61|
Weep On It/Think On It/Sleep On It/Drink On It. That could be the motto for Missouri after Mizzou remained a "Susan Lucci" school in Division I after losing its opener in the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The troubled Tigers are among the schools participating in at least 20 NCAA Tournaments but never advancing to a Final Four.
Missouri has reached a regional final four times but fell short in advancing to the Promised Land. Boston College is another bridesmaid on multiple occasions, losing three regional finals (1967, 1982 and 1994) in 18 tourney appearances (22-19 record) since the field expanded beyond eight teams in 1950.
Alabama (20-20) is the only school with a non-losing NCAA playoff record among the following list of five frustrated institutions in a quagmire because they've made a minimum of 20 appearances without reaching the Final Four:
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 6 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia's year-by-year highlights):
1. Who was the only player to lead the nation in scoring average in the same season he played for a team reaching the NCAA Tournament championship game? Hint: He was the first player to score more than 30 points in a Final Four game and the only individual to crack the 30-point plateau in the national semifinals and final in the same season. He was also the only Big Eight Conference player to lead the nation in scoring.
2. Of the 60 or so different players to score at least 2,500 points and/or rank among the top 25 in career scoring average, who was the only one to have a winning NCAA playoff record in his career plus post higher scoring, rebounding and field-goal shooting playoff averages than he compiled in the regular season? Hint: The player scored at least 17 points in all 10 of his NCAA playoff games.
3. Who was the only football Heisman Trophy winner to play in the basketball Final Four? Hint: He won the Most Outstanding Player Award in a Liberty Bowl after setting a school record for longest run from scrimmage.
4. What was the only Final Four matchup to have both coaches opposing his alma mater? Hint: It's happened twice. The protege was an assistant at his alma mater for 10 years.
5. Who is the only coach to oppose his alma mater more than twice at the Final Four? Hint: He is also the only coach in the 20th Century to twice win conference and NCAA tournaments in the same year.
6. Who is the only unbeaten coach in NCAA playoff history? Hint: He is the only NCAA basketball championship coach to also be baseball coach at the same school when it won a College World Series game.
7. Who was the only coach with more than 30 NCAA Tournament victories to earn those wins at more than one school until Lute Olson (Iowa and Arizona) joined him in 1998? Hint: Three schools for the first coach were slapped with an NCAA probation during his stints there.
8. Who is the only coach in back-to-back years to win at least one NCAA playoff game in his first season with two different schools? He coached Butler the previous campaign. Hint: He was an assistant under three coaches who directed two different schools to the NCAA Tournament (Charlie Coles, Tates Locke and Herb Sendek).
9. Name the only school to gain an at-large invitation despite losing all of its conference road games. Hint: Three years earlier, the school received an at-large bid despite losing four league road games by at least 25 points.
10. Of the individuals to both play and coach in the NCAA Tournament, who leads that group in both scoring and rebounding totals? Hint: He was the leading scorer in the biggest blowout in regional final history.
If your RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) isn't satisfactory, then it's time to R.I.P. (Rest in Peace). That certainly was the case for Harvard, the Rip Van Winkle of college basketball, until the Crimson woke up and secured its first NCAA playoff victory. It was only last year when Harvard secured its first NCAA berth since losing two games in 1946.
Stanford and Wisconsin, a pair of relatively recent Final Four schools, tied with Brown for the longest dry spell in NCAA Tournament history for prior playoff participants before Harvard ended its long drought. Following are the 16 schools - with Butler, Iowa State, Miami (FL), Saint Louis and Wisconsin joining Harvard in this year's event - to participate in the tourney at least once before enduring playoff appearance droughts of at least 34 years (length of dry spells denoted in parentheses):
School Years Failing to Appear Years Without a Victory Harvard 1947 through 2011 (65) Won first game in 2013 Brown 1940 through 1985 (46) Never won a playoff game Stanford 1943 through 1988 (46) 1943 through 1994 (52) Wisconsin 1948 through 1993 (46) 1948 through 1993 (46) Air Force 1963 through 2003 (41) Never won a playoff game Lafayette 1958 through 1998 (41) Never won a playoff game Iowa State 1945 through 1984 (40) 1945 through 1985 (41) Washington State 1942 through 1979 (38) 1942 through 1982 (41) Baylor 1951 through 1987 (37) 1951 through 2009 (59) Canisius 1958 through 1994 (37) Hasn't won since 1957 Miami (FL) 1961 through 1997 (37) Won first game in 1999 Drake 1972 through 2007 (36) Hasn't won since 1971 Saint Louis 1958 through 1993 (36) 1953 through 1994 (42) Butler 1963 through 1996 (34) 1963 through 2000 (38) Manhattan 1959 through 1992 (34) 1959 through 1994 (36) Montana State 1952 through 1985 (34) Never won a playoff game
NOTES: Tulsa didn't win an NCAA playoff game from 1956 through 1993 (38 years). . . . Holy Cross (last victory in 1953) and Rice (1954) haven't won an NCAA Tournament game for extended periods. . . . Miami (Fla.) did not field a formal team from 1971-72 through 1984-85.
So brief it could have been designated an annulment, Butler "did it" to the Atlantic 10 when the Bulldogs left the conference after only one season to join the Big East. The Bulldogs joined the following alphabetical list of current Division I schools affiliating with a different league after only one year:
|School||One-Year League Membership||Next Conference||Tenure|
|Butler||2013 in Atlantic 10||Big East||from 2014|
|Central Florida||1992 in Sun Belt||TAAC/Atlantic Sun||1994-2005|
|Denver||2013 in Western Athletic||Summit League||from 2014|
|Duquesne||1993 in Midwestern Collegiate||Atlantic 10||returned in 1994|
|Rhode Island||1980 in ECAC North||Atlantic 10||since 1981|
|Texas-Arlington||2013 in Western Athletic||Sun Belt||from 2014|
|Texas-Pan American||1980 in Trans America||American South||1988-91|
|Texas-San Antonio||2013 in Western Athletic||Conference USA||from 2014|
|Texas State||2013 in Western Athletic||Sun Belt||from 2014|
|Towson State||1982 in Northeast||East Coast||1983-92|
|Troy State||1994 in East Coast||Mid-Continent||1995-97|
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, bombs, government work and drive-in movies. A No. 16 seed has never defeated a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in 116 such matchups since the playoff field expanded to at least 64 teams in 1985.
But when Gonzaga and Kansas became the 13th and 14th #1 seeds to win an opener by a single digit, it seems almost inevitable that somehow/somewhere/someway/someday a #16 seed will prevail and become the ultimate giant killer. If history means anything, the single-digit results reveal a chink in the armours of Gonzaga and KU. Prospects don't look promising for them winning the NCAA title because none of the first 12 #1 seeds in this "shaky-start" category went on to capture the championship and only three of them - Duke '86, Illinois '89 and North Carolina '97 - advanced to the Final Four.
Year Margin Regional Single-Digit Outcome Between #1 and #16 NCAA Playoff Seeds 1989 1 East Georgetown 50 (Mourning team-high 21 points), Princeton 49 (Scrabis 15) 1989 1 Southeast Oklahoma 72 (King 28), East Tennessee State 71 (Dennis 20) 1996 2 West Purdue 73 (Austin 18), Western Carolina 71 (McCollum 21) 1985 4 Southeast Michigan 59 (Tarpley 15), Fairleigh Dickinson 55 (Wilson 12) 1990 4 Southeast Michigan State 75 (Smith 22), Murray State 71 (Jones 37)* 1989 6 Midwest Illinois 77 (Battle 18), McNeese State 71 (Cutright 28) 2013 6 West Gonzaga 64 (Olynyk 21), Southern 58 (Beltran 21) 1986 7 East Duke 85 (Dawkins 27), Mississippi Valley State 78 (Coleman 24) 2012 7 East Syracuse 72 (Southerland 15), UNC Asheville 65 (Primm 18) 2013 7 South Kansas 64 (Withey 17), Western Kentucky 57 (Crook 13) 1997 8 East North Carolina 82 (Carter 22), Fairfield 74 (Francis 26) 1986 9 West St. John's 83 (Berry 31), Montana State 74 (Hampton 21) 1990 9 Midwest Oklahoma 77 (Jones 19), Towson State 68 (Lee 30) 1996 9 Southeast Connecticut 68 (Allen 24), Colgate 59 (Foyle 21)
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 5 of a treasure-trove of tantalizing NCAA Tournament trivia questions from CollegeHoopedia.com (10 per day from Selection Sunday through the championship game) tracking the only coach, conference, player or school to be linked to a distinguished or dubious achievement (click here for answers or conduct research digesting historical morsels in CollegeHoopedia's year-by-year highlights):
1. Who is the only player to score more than 30,000 points in his pro career after never appearing in the NCAA playoffs? Hint: He is the only former major-college player to become NBA Most Valuable Player after failing to participate in the NCAA Tournament. He was 0-2 in the NIT, where he lost his final college game by 41 points, before leaving college for the pros with one season of eligibility remaining.
2. Who is the only person to play for an NBA championship team before coaching an NCAA titlist? Hint: He was a backup to an NBA all-time great after being the leading scorer and rebounder for a team winning an NIT crown.
3. Who became an NCAA playoff coach after being the only player in history to participate with two different schools in the NCAA championship game? Hint: One of the teams he played for was undefeated. He coached two different schools in the tourney.
4. Who is the only coach to engineer a turnaround featuring an NCAA playoff appearance in his first full season at a new job although the school compiled a record of more than 20 games below .500 the previous year? Hint: It was his only year as coach at the school.
5. Name the only mid-major conference to have two different members reach a regional semifinal as at-large teams in the same year, beating opponents from the Big East, Big 12 and SEC in the process. Hint: Two other members of the same league achieved the feat in the previous seven years. Only two of its current members haven't won playoff games when seeded five or more places worse than a major university currently a member of one of the current consensus top six leagues since seeding started in 1979.
6. Name the only former NCAA Tournament champion not to win at least one playoff game since capturing the title. Hint: It's the first NCAA champion to have black players in its starting lineup and is the only school to win the NCAA playoffs and NIT in the same year. The school is also the only former major college to win a Division I Tournament championship.
7. Name the school with the most playoff games decided by one or two points (four) on its way to a championship. Hint: It was the first school to need six victories to claim the national crown and is the only school to have two different coaches capture a national championship after compiling a losing record in their first seasons as a major-college head coach.
8. Who is the only coach to win his first 12 tournament games decided in overtime or by fewer than six points in regulation? Hint: His first of three NCAA championship game teams had four players become NBA first-round draft choices.
9. Name the only state to have more than six different schools reach the Final Four. Hint: The state went 31 years between its two national championships.
10. Name the only person to coach two different universities in back-to-back years when each school made its initial playoff appearance. Hint: He reached the national championship game with one of the schools.
NCAA Tournament coaches will need to draw upon all of their resources to motivate their clubs in postseason play. If intellect is a major factor, La Salle coach John Giannini might have an advantage insofar as he has a doctorate in Kinesiology with a specialization in Sports Psychology from Illinois. Following is a quick glance at the educational background of other mentors in this year's NCAA playoffs:
|NCAA Playoff Coach||School||Bachelor's||Master's|
|Steve Alford||New Mexico||Business|
|Dana Altman||Oregon||Business||Business Administration|
|Randy Bennett||Saint Mary's||Biology|
|Jim Boeheim||Syracuse||Social Science||Social Science|
|Tad Boyle||Colorado||Business Administration|
|Matt Brady||James Madison||Marketing and Management|
|Mike Brey||Notre Dame||Physical Education|
|Rick Byrd||Belmont||Physical Education||Physical Education|
|Tom Crean||Indiana||Parks & Recreation|
|Billy Donovan||Florida||General Social Studies|
|Bryce Drew||Valparaiso||Sports Management|
|Fran Dunphy||Temple||Marketing||Counseling & Human Relations|
|Andy Enfield||Florida Gulf Coast||Economics||Business Administration|
|Larry Eustachy||Colorado State||Physical Education|
|Mark Few||Gonzaga||Physical Education||Athletic Administration|
|Steve Fisher||San Diego State||Math/Physical Education||Physical Education|
|John Giannini||La Salle||Psychology||Physical Education/Sports Psychology|
|Mark Gottfried||North Carolina State||Communications|
|Frank Haith||Missouri||Physical Education|
|Ray Harper||Western Kentucky||unavailable|
|Fred Hoiberg||Iowa State||Finance|
|Ben Howland||UCLA||Physical Education||unavailable|
|Tom Izzo||Michigan State||Health and Physical Education|
|Lon Kruger||Oklahoma||business||Physical Education|
|Mike Krzyzewski||Duke||Officer Training|
|Jim Larranaga||Miami (Fla.)||Economics|
|Gregg Marshall||Wichita State||Economics/Business||Sports Management|
|Thad Matta||Ohio State||Education|
|Mike McConathy||Northwestern State||Health and Physical Education|
|Greg McDermott||Creighton||History||Sports Management|
|Marvin Menzies||New Mexico State||Economics||Education|
|Mike Montgomery||California||Physical Education||Physical Education|
|Scott Nagy||South Dakota State||Business Administration|
|Josh Pastner||Memphis||Family Studies||Teaching and Teacher Education|
|Rick Pitino||Louisville||Political Science|
|Dave Rice||UNLV||Political Science||Business Administration|
|Leon Rice||Boise State||Physical Education||Athletic Administration, Mgt. & Program Development|
|Bo Ryan||Wisconsin||Business Administration|
|Bill Self||Kansas||Business||Athletic Administration|
|Shaka Smart||Virginia Commonwealth||History||Social Science|
|Tubby Smith||Minnesota||Health and Physical Education|
|Bob Thomason||Pacific||Physical Education||Physical Education|
|John Thompson III||Georgetown||Politics|
|Wayne Tinkle||Montana||Health & Human Performance|
|Bruce Weber||Kansas State||Education||Physical Education|
|Roy Williams||North Carolina||Education||Education|
In a caste-like era separating the haves from the have-nots, imperial universities are seeking megaconferences and, perhaps in the near future, a restrictive upper division. But the socially elite won't ever be able to exclude small schools from making a big impact on the NCAA playoffs.
Smaller colleges, many of them in the hinterlands, have supplied a striking number of the biggest names in coaching. From 1995 through 2000, five of the six NCAA Tournament championship coaches (Jim Calhoun, Jim Harrick, Tom Izzo, Lute Olson and Tubby Smith) graduated from obscure colleges with smaller enrollments. In fact, it is a rarity for a Final Four not to feature at least one coach who graduated from a non-Division I school.
John Calipari, a graduate of Clarion (Pa.) State, guided Kentucky to last year's championship. Following is an alphabetical list of 2013 NCAA Tournament mentors who worked their way up the ladder after graduating from a small school:
NCAA Playoff Coach School Small-College Alma Mater Dana Altman Oregon Eastern New Mexico '80 John Beilein Michigan Wheeling Jesuit (N.Y.) '75 Randy Bennett Saint Mary's UC San Diego '86 Will Brown Albany Dowling (N.Y.) '95 Andy Enfield Florida Gulf Coast Johns Hopkins (Md.) '91 Jim Ferry Long Island Keene State (N.H.) '90 Steve Fisher San Diego State Illinois State '67 John Giannini La Salle North Central (Ill.) '84 John Groce Illinois Taylor (Ind.) '94 Frank Haith Missouri Elon (N.C.) '88 Ray Harper Western Kentucky Kentucky Wesleyan '85 Tom Izzo Michigan State Northern Michigan '77 Dale Layer Liberty Eckerd College (Fla.) '80 Gregg Marshall Wichita State Randolph-Macon (Va.) '85 Mike Montgomery California Long Beach State '68 Scott Nagy South Dakota State Delta State (Miss.) '88 Dave Paulsen Bucknell Williams (Mass.) '87 Jack Perri Long Island Bentley (Mass.) '98 William "Bo" Ryan Wisconsin Wilkes College (Pa.) '69 Shaka Smart Virginia Commonwealth Kenyon (Ohio) '99 Orlando "Tubby" Smith Minnesota High Point (N.C.) '73 Brad Stevens Butler DePauw (Ind.) '99 Brent "Buzz" Williams Marquette Oklahoma City '94