After an average of four mid-level schools reached the Sweet 16 in a six-year span from 2006 through 2011, the last five seasons could have cemented the premise about mid-major schools deserving additional at-large consideration. But that was before eight mid-level schools - Gonzaga, New Mexico, St. Bonaventure, Saint Louis, Saint Mary's, Southern Mississippi, UNLV and Virginia Commonwealth - were eliminated in games against power six conference members by an average of only four points in 2012, the Mountain West Conference flopped in 2013, only two mid-majors reached the Sweet 16 in 2014 and 2015 plus Northern Iowa and Stephen F. Austin squandering last-minute leads against power-league opponents.
Butler, Virginia Commonwealth and Wichita State advancing to the Final Four this decade was invigorating but the mid-major community missed out on a potential bonanza. Following is a look at how at least one mid-major conference member advanced to a regional semifinal or beyond since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985:
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.
At least 10 of the 37 schools appearing in excess of 50 NCAA payoff games failed to participate in the tourney each year since the field expanded to at least 64 teams in 1985, including 16 former Final Four schools this season.
Nearly half of the "star schools" stayed home in 2004, including Houston being in the midst of a 17-year drought from 1993 through 2009. Following is a chronological list of big-name universities who were tourney outcasts since 1985:
1985 (14) - Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Houston, Indiana, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette, Oklahoma State, Texas, UCLA, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia
1986 (12) - Arkansas, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Florida, Houston, Kansas State, Marquette, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Texas, UCLA, Wake Forest
1987 (13) - Arkansas, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Marquette, Maryland, Memphis State, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Utah, Villanova, Wake Forest
1988 (12) - Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Marquette, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Texas, UCLA, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia
1989 (15) - Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Kansas, Kentucky, Marquette, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Purdue, St. John's, Temple, Utah, Wake Forest
1990 (12) - Cincinnati, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Marquette, Maryland, Memphis State, North Carolina State, Oklahoma State, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia
1991 (14) - Cincinnati, Florida, Illinois, Houston, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisville, Marquette, Maryland, Memphis State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, West Virginia
1992 (11) - Florida, Illinois, Kansas State, Marquette, Maryland, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Purdue, UNLV, Utah, Villanova
1993 (15) - Connecticut, Florida, Georgetown, Houston, Maryland, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Texas, UNLV, Villanova, West Virginia
1994 (13) - Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Memphis, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, St. John's, UNLV, Utah, Villanova, West Virginia
1995 (11) - Duke, Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Marquette, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, St. John's, UNLV, West Virginia
1996 (11) - Florida, Houston, Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, St. John's, UNLV, West Virginia
1997 (16) - Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Houston, Kansas State, Memphis, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, St. John's, Syracuse, UNLV, West Virginia
1998 (14) - Florida, Georgetown, Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, Villanova, Wake Forest
1999 (12) - Georgetown, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Marquette, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, UNLV, Wake Forest, West Virginia
2000 (12) - Georgetown, Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Marquette, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Villanova, Wake Forest, West Virginia
2001 (14) - Connecticut, Houston, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina State, Purdue, St. John's, UNLV, Utah, Villanova, West Virginia
2002 (15) - Arkansas, Georgetown, Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Louisville, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, Purdue, Syracuse, Temple, UNLV, Villanova, West Virginia
2003 (14) - Arkansas, Georgetown, Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, St. John's, Temple, UCLA, UNLV, Villanova, West Virginia
2004 (18) - Arkansas, Georgetown, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Marquette, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, St. John's, Temple, UCLA, UNLV, Villanova, West Virginia
2005 (15) - Arkansas, Georgetown, Houston, Indiana, Kansas State, Marquette, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue, St. John's, Temple, UNLV
2006 (14) - Cincinnati, Houston, Kansas State, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Purdue, St. John's, Temple, UNLV, Utah, Wake Forest
2007 (15) - Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Iowa, Kansas State, Michigan, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, St. John's, Syracuse, Temple, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia
2008 (14) - Cincinnati, Florida, Houston, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, St. John's, Syracuse, Utah, Wake Forest
2009 (13) - Arkansas, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgetown, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas State, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, St. John's, UNLV
2010 (15) - Arizona, Arkansas, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Memphis, Michigan, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, St. John's, UCLA, Utah
2011 (10) - Arkansas, Houston, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Utah, Wake Forest
2012 (13) - Arizona, Arkansas, Houston, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, St. John's, UCLA, Utah, Villanova, Wake Forest
2013 (11) - Arkansas, Connecticut, Houston, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Purdue, St. John's, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia
2014 (15) - Arkansas, Georgetown, Houston, Illinois, Indiana, Marquette, Maryland, Notre Dame, Purdue, St. John's, Temple, UNLV, Utah, Wake Forest, West Virginia
2015 (12) - Connecticut, Florida, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Marquette, Memphis, Michigan, Syracuse, Temple, UNLV, Wake Forest
2016 (16) - Arkansas, Florida, Georgetown, Houston, Illinois, Kansas State, Louisville, Marquette, Memphis, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, St. John's, UCLA, UNLV, Wake Forest
Should I stay or should I go? It's a good thing some universities play in mammoth arenas because the egos of their "Pompous Pilots" wouldn't fit any other place. Much of the excess in the canonization of coaches is perpetrated by coaches-turned-television commentators who shamelessly fawn over their former colleagues. The analysts should be more concerned about encouraging coaches to spare fans the pious blather about the sanctity of a contract or agreement. Granted, it's survival of the fittest amid the offer-you-can't-refuse backdrop. But in a great many cases, schools have been little more than convenient steppingstones for "larger-than-life" coaches along their one-way street to success. It's understandable in many instances that mercenaries are leaving the minute they're appointed because coaches are in a distasteful "hired-to-be-fired" vocation, where a pink slip is only one losing season or poor recruiting year away.
Nevertheless, loyalty has become too much of a one-way street with the latest examples including Jamie Dixon departing for his alma mater (Texas Christian) despite having seven seasons remaining on his contract with Pittsburgh, Bryce Drew abandoning his alma mater (Valparaiso) with seven campaigns left on his deal for Vanderbilt and Brad Underwood leaving Stephen F. Austin for Oklahoma State with six years left on his pact. Meanwhile, players considering their options occasionally are grilled by coaches and commentators for contemplating transfers or leaving early for the NBA. There are countless examples of schools holding a player's eligibility hostage out of sheer vindictiveness. How much more one-sided can it be when such a lame double standard exists?
After all, the value systems for high-profile coaches are sufficiently open-minded to permit running out on contracts when more lucrative jobs come open. Contracts are understood to be for the protection of the coach, not the team, whose players are somehow indentured to the schools for as many as four years of eligibility unless of course a coach chooses not to renew their scholarships. Perhaps that's why many believe incoming recruits should be allowed out of their letter-of-intent to seek another destination if the coach they signed with departs before they even get to campus.
Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but that's most definitely the way it is as contracts don't appear to mean squat to a striking number of meandering mentors who abandon ship like so many rats at high tide. Oklahoma's Lon Kruger departed three different schools with at least four years remaining on pacts before leaving UNLV with two seasons left.
Many "leveraged" coaches have been preoccupied of late with attempting to virtually extort raises and extensions on already hefty packages. But in recent years, administrations at Boston College, Kent State, Marist, Miami (Fla.), St. John's and Wyoming seemed to be guinea pigs of sorts by fighting back via adherence to buyout clauses in trying to regain control of the situation in this big business atmosphere.
In mid-July 2010, a New York State Supreme Court Justice made a possible precedent-setting ruling in favor of Marist, which contended that coach Matt Brady's contract required him to secure written consent before negotiating with another school and forbade him from offering "a scholarship to current Marist players or to persons that he or his staff recruited to play at Marist" if he ever took a comparable job.
Brady clearly negotiated with James Madison in 2008 without "written" consent and Marist compiled a list of 19 prospects Brady recruited on behalf of Marist that it believed he should have been unable to recruit to JMU per the details of his contract. Four players on that "off-limits" list - Trevon Flores, Devon Moore, Andrey Semenov and Julius Wells - ultimately signed with JMU.
The judge ruled in favor of Marist's claims that Brady had an enforceable contract when he discussed leaving Marist with JMU, that JMU knew of the contract's existence, that JMU intentionally induced Brady to violate his fiduciary obligations under the contract, and that Marist incurred damages as a result of the breach of those obligations. Marist also filed a separate civil suit against Brady, who was canned by JMU despite reaching the 20-win plateau in 2015-16. In mid-May 2011, Kent State sued Geno Ford for more than $1.2 million in damages stemming from his departure for Bradley, where Ford has already been cast adrift.
Six of Tulsa's previous eight coaches - Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith, Steve Robinson, Bill Self, Buzz Peterson and Danny Manning - left the school for more prestigious positions despite each of them having at least three years remaining on their contracts before Frank Haith downgraded by departing Missouri for Tulsa with three years remaining on his Mizzou pact. Half of the Golden Hurricane defectors went on to capture NCAA championships. Tulsa is one of three universities from which Self has bailed. He signed a five-year extension with Illinois in December, 2002, that included a bump in salary to $900,000 and payout of $500,000 if he stayed the life of the contract. There also was a buyout of $100,000 per year remaining on the pact.
Lengthy agreements with guarantees can restrict an institution's options. Oklahoma State probably would have pursued a new coach a year ago except the Cowboys were shackled by obligations stemming from the remaining four years of a 10-year extension signed by Travis Ford, who previously departed Massachusetts with seven seasons left on his contract to align with OSU.
Deal or no deal? The length of contracts doesn't seem to carry any weight as a factor in the equation. Smart said it was a "no-brainer" hooking up with the Horns and that statement is true if your brain cells or ethical standards don't put any stock into length of an existing pact. Following is an alphabetical list detailing coaches such as Dixon and Underwood reportedly still having contractual obligations to schools of more than five seasons when they left for greener pastures at some point in their careers:
- Steve Alford (10 years remaining on contract) - left New Mexico/hired by UCLA
- Rick Barnes (6) - Clemson/Texas
- John Beilein (6) - Richmond/West Virginia
- Tony Bennett (6) - Washington State/Virginia
- Dave Bliss (6) - New Mexico/Baylor
- Mike Brey (7) - Delaware/Notre Dame
- John Calipari (10) - Massachusetts/New Jersey Nets
- Jeff Capel III (6) - Virginia Commonwealth/Oklahoma
- Tom Crean (9) - Marquette/Indiana
- Jamie Dixon (7) - Pittsburgh/Texas Christian
- Matt Doherty (6) - Florida Atlantic/Southern Methodist
- Bryce Drew (7) - Valparaiso/Vanderbilt
- Larry Eustachy (6) - Utah State/Iowa State
- Dennis Felton (6) - Western Kentucky/Georgia
- Tim Floyd (6) - New Orleans/Iowa State
- Tim Floyd (8) - Iowa State/Chicago Bulls
- Travis Ford (7) - Massachusetts/Oklahoma State
- Billy Gillispie (8) - Texas A&M/Kentucky
- Brian Gregory (7) - Dayton/Georgia Tech
- Leonard Hamilton (7) - Miami (Fla.)/Washington Wizards
- Fred Hoiberg (8) - Iowa State/Chicago Bulls
- Ben Howland (6) - Pittsburgh/UCLA
- Jeff Lebo (8) - Chattanooga/Auburn
- Gregg Marshall (8) - Winthrop/Wichita State
- Thad Matta (9) - Xavier/Ohio State
- Fran McCaffery (7) - Siena/Iowa
- Sean Miller (9) - Xavier/Arizona
- Dan Monson (10) - Gonzaga/Minnesota
- Lute Olson (7) - Iowa/Arizona
- Buzz Peterson (9) - Appalachian State/Tulsa
- Skip Prosser (6) - Xavier/Wake Forest
- Oliver Purnell (6) - Clemson/DePaul
- Mike Rice Jr. (7) - Robert Morris/Rutgers
- Steve Robinson (7) - Tulsa/Florida State
- Kelvin Sampson (6) - Washington State/Oklahoma
- Shaka Smart (8) - Virginia Commonwealth/Texas
- Tubby Smith (6) - Georgia/Kentucky
- Mark Turgeon (9) - Wichita State/Texas A&M
- Brad Underwood (6) - Stephen F. Austin/Oklahoma State
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.
Weep On It/Think On It/Sleep On It/Drink On It. That could be the motto for Xavier after the Musketeers remained a "Susan Lucci" school in Division I after another loss in the NCAA Tournament preventing them from reaching the Promised Land. Brigham Young, Missouri and Xavier are the only three schools participating in more than 25 NCAA Tournaments but never advancing to a Final Four. X exhibited traits where it showed potential of marking a spot at the national semifinals this year but the #2 seed in the East Regional was blindsided twice by Wisconsin three-point specialist Bronson "Mr. Big Shot" Koenig in the last 13 seconds.
Missouri has reached a regional final on four occasions but fell short in advancing to the Final Four. Boston College is another bridesmaid multiple times, 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:
The Atlantic Coast Conference, reinvigorated with the additions of Notre Dame and Syracuse, provided more than three teams among the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years last season. This campaign, the ACC continued on an upward path by setting an NCAA Tournament record with six Sweet 16 participants. Newcomer Louisville might have been a seventh ACC squad but the banished Cardinals apparently were more interested in sex ed independent study raining dollar bills in their dormitory.
In 2009, the Big East became the first conference to boast five playoff teams reaching the regional semifinals in the same year until the ACC duplicated the feat last year. The ACC boasted four members advancing that far on eight occasions in a 12-year stretch from 1984 through 1995.
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 26 times when thoroughbred leagues supplied at least four Sweet 16 participants 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|
|2015||ACC||x-Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Notre Dame|
|2016||ACC||Duke, Miami (Fla.), y-North Carolina, Notre Dame, z-Syracuse, Virginia|
x-Won NCAA championship
y-Finished national runner-up
z-Reached Final Four
Kentucky and Duke faced the same dilemma. UK, after multiple undergraduate members of its regular rotation departed a Final Four team four times in a five-year span to display their wares in the NBA, and defending champion Duke, after losing three undergrads who became NBA first-round selections.
Each Final Four since 1995 had at least one school promptly lose a minimum of one player early to the NBA, including all four participants in 2007 (Florida, Georgetown, Ohio State and UCLA). But what happened to those national semifinal schools with multiple players declaring early for the NBA?
The first 15 "star light" schools with multiple defectors failed to reach an NCAA regional final the next season until Kentucky reversed the trend with a national championship in 2012 after losing Brandon Knight and DeAndre Liggins in 2011. But UK, after freshmen Julius Randle and James Young were among the top 17 NBA draft choices in 2014, couldn't duplicate that feat last year. It would have been one of the greatest achievements in college basketball history if UK returned to the 2013 Final Four after losing five undergraduates from the 38-2 NCAA titlist although two of them (Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague) have had virtually no NBA impact. The perils of losing so much young talent was reflected in the Wildcats' failure to reach the NCAA playoffs and losing in the opening round of the NIT against Robert Morris.
The only team in this category other than UK to lose fewer than seven games was Duke (29-5 in 1999-00). After the first 13 squads thus far this century suffered an average of nine defeats in the wake of multiple pro defections, Kentucky won 38 in a row last season before bowing against Wisconsin in the national semifinals, which was a significant departure from the following chronological look at how Final Four schools fared the year after having multiple players renounce their college eligibility:
|Year||Final Four Team||Multiple Undergraduates Declaring For NBA Draft||Record||Postseason Outcome Next Season|
|1995||Arkansas (2)||Scotty Thurman (undrafted), Corliss Williamson (13th pick overall)||20-13||Lost regional semifinal|
|1995||North Carolina (2)||Jerry Stackhouse (3rd), Rasheed Wallace (4th)||21-11||Lost in second round|
|1996||Mississippi State (2)||Erick Dampier (10th), Dontae' Jones (21st)||12-18||Did not qualify|
|1998||North Carolina (2)||Vince Carter (5th), Antawn Jamison (4th)||24-10||Lost in first round|
|1999||Duke (3)||William Avery (14th), Elton Brand (1st), Corey Maggette (13th)||29-5||Lost regional semifinal|
|2000||Florida (2)||Donnell Harvey (22nd), Mike Miller (5th)||24-7||Lost in second round|
|2001||Arizona (3)||Gilbert Arenas (31st), Richard Jefferson (13th), Michael Wright (39th)||24-10||Lost regional semifinal|
|2001||Michigan State (2)||Zach Randolph (19th), Jason Richardson (5th)||19-12||Lost in first round|
|2004||Connecticut (2)||Ben Gordon (3rd), Emeka Okafor (2nd)||23-8||Lost in second round|
|2005||Illinois (2)||Dee Brown (undrafted), Deron Williams (3rd)||26-7||Lost in second round|
|2005||North Carolina (4)||Raymond Felton (5th), Sean May (13th), Rashad McCants (14th), Marvin Williams (2nd)||23-8||Lost in second round|
|2007||Florida (4)||Corey Brewer (7th), Taurean Green (52nd), Al Horford (3rd), Joakim Noah (9th)||24-12||Reached NIT semifinals|
|2007||Ohio State (3)||Mike Conley Jr. (4th), Daequan Cook (21st), Greg Oden (1st)||24-13||Won NIT|
|2008||Kansas (3)||Darrell Arthur (27th), Mario Chalmers (34th), Brandon Rush (13th)||27-8||Lost regional semifinal|
|2008||UCLA (3)||Kevin Love (5th), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (37th), Russell Westbrook (4th)||26-9||Lost in second round|
|2011||Kentucky (2)||Brandon Knight (8th), DeAndre Liggins (53rd)||38-2||Won national title|
|2012||Kentucky (5)||Anthony Davis (1st), Terrence Jones (18th), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (2nd), Doron Lamb (42nd), Marquis Teague (29th)||21-12||Lost in NIT first round|
|2013||Michigan (2)||Trey Burke (9th), Tim Hardaway Jr. (24th)||28-9||Lost regional final|
|2014||Kentucky (2)||Julius Randle (7th), James Young (17th)||38-1||Lost in national semifinals|
|2015||Duke (3)||Tyus Jones (24th), Jahlil Okafor (3rd), Justise Winslow (10th)||25-11||Lost regional semifinal|
|2015||Kentucky (6)||Devin Booker (13th), Willie Cauley-Stein (6th), Andrew Harrison (44th), Dakari Johnson (48th), Trey Lyles (12th), Karl-Anthony Towns (1st)||27-9||Lost in second round|
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.
A game-winning bank shot from half-court by Northern Iowa's Paul Jesperson against Texas enabled him to join the striking list of storybook moments in NCAA playoff lore, making it time to shine light on many of those who previously made history. UNI also had a stimulating three-pointer when Maurice Newby connected from beyond the arc to defeat Missouri in 1990. But Jesperson's heroics had to give way in the "one-shining-moment" spotlight department to Villanova's Kris Jenkins when he canned a game-winning three-pointer against North Carolina in the championship game.
Typified by Jenkins and Bronson Koenig's three-pointer giving Wisconsin a second-round victory over #2 seed Xavier, more than one-fourth of the NCAA Tournament's games were determined in overtime or in regulation by fewer than four points since the field expanded to at least 32 teams in 1975. Four riveting national finals in an eight-year span from 1982 through 1989 furnished memories etched indelibly in our minds because clutch players appeared impervious to pressure by producing in last-second situations.
Videos help us remember the buzzer beaters far beyond the actual moment. Butler's Gordon Hayward almost joined this group but his heave from near half-court rimmed out in 2010 national final against Duke. Hayward learned close only counts in hand grenades, horseshoes and drive-in movies. Pushing for rebound basket (Iowa) and capitalizing on poor defense on in-bounds play for layup (PC) won't get you on the following alphabetical list of numerous individuals who supplied a memorable field goal as time expired in an NCAA tourney tilt:
|Player||School||Description of Decisive Last-Second Basket|
|Danny Ainge||Brigham Young||Coast-to-coast drive and scoop shot edged #2 seed Notre Dame, 51-50, in 1981 East Regional semifinals.|
|Rolando Blackman||Kansas State||Jumper from 17 feet from right baseline was the difference in 50-48 verdict against #1 seed Oregon State in second round of 1981 West Regional.|
|Nathaniel Burton||Georgetown||Driving layup was final margin in 63-61 nod over Arkansas in first round of 2001 West Regional.|
|Lorenzo Charles||North Carolina State||Sophomore forward, averaging a modest 8 ppg, converted guard Dereck Whittenburg's off-line desperation shot from well beyond the three-point arc into decisive dunk in 54-52 triumph against Houston in 1983 championship game.|
|Cameron Dollar||UCLA||Short jumper with less than two seconds remaining after length-of-the-court drive in overtime upended Iowa State, 74-73, in 1997 Midwest Regional semifinals.|
|Bryce Drew||Valparaiso||Signature three-pointer after three-quarter court pass to teammate gave #13 seed a 70-69 victory against Ole Miss in first round of 1998 Midwest Regional.|
|Tyus Edney||UCLA||Length-of-the-court drive and layup gave #1 seed a 75-74 triumph against Missouri in second round of 1995 West Regional.|
|James Forrest||Georgia Tech||Freshman forward, who didn't attempt a three-pointer all year, nailed a desperation shot from beyond the arc for a 79-78 win against Southern California in second round of 1992 Midwest Regional.|
|Rick Fox||North Carolina||Drive along right baseline for leaning bank shot in 79-77 upset of top-ranked Oklahoma in second round of 1990 Midwest Regional.|
|Kevin Gamble||Iowa||Straight-away three-pointer with one second remaining in overtime against Oklahoma provided 93-91 triumph in 1987 West Regional semifinals.|
|Tate George||Connecticut||Turnaround jumper from right baseline after length-of-the-court pass from eventual MLB first-round draft choice Scott Burrell clipped Clemson, 71-70, in 1990 East Regional semifinals.|
|Clarence Gilbert||Missouri||Jumper from 15 feet helped withstand furious Georgia rally, 70-68, in first round of 2001 East Regional.|
|Demetri Goodson||Gonzaga||Short running bank shot lifted Zags to 83-81 triumph against Western Kentucky in second round of 2009 South Regional.|
|Richard Hamilton||Connecticut||Off-balance fall-away in lane gave Huskies a 75-74 win against Washington in 1998 East Regional semifinals.|
|Jeff Hodge||South Alabama||Desperation three-pointer off broken play in waning moments gave USA an 86-84 victory against Alabama in opening round of 1989 Southeast Regional.|
|Shaheen Holloway||Seton Hall||Mercurial point guard drove length of the court through and around a double team to score on an underhanded layup high off the glass with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime to frustrate Oregon, 72-71, in first round of 2000 East Regional.|
|Jeff Hornacek||Iowa State||Fall-away 25-footer off an out-of-bounds play commencing with two seconds remaining in overtime gave the Cyclones their first NCAA playoff victory in 42 years - 81-79 against Miami (Ohio) in opening round of 1986 Midwest Regional.|
|De'Jon Jackson||San Diego||Fade-away 18-footer from right side with 1.2 seconds remaining in overtime for 13 seed accounted for 70-69 decision over UConn in 2008 West Regional.|
|Kris Jenkins||Villanova||Responding to miracle off-balance three-pointer by North Carolina's Marcus Paige tying the score at 74-74 with fewer than five seconds remaining, Jenkins responding by drilling a game-winning trey from the right side.|
|Paul Jesperson||Northern Iowa||Half-court bank shot after several dribbles crossing from right sideline to middle of hardwood propelled #11 seed to a 75-72 nod over Texas in opening round of 2016 West Regional.|
|Bronson Koenig||Wisconsin||Swished three-pointer from right corner off sideline out-of-bounds play in 66-63 triumph against #2 seed Xavier in second round of 2016 East Regional. His decisive basket left him 16-of-31 from beyond the arc in the last five minutes of games during the season.|
|Christian Laettner (1)||Duke||After in-bounding ball with 2.6 seconds remaining in overtime, he received it back and converted a contorted leaner from left side for 79-78 win against UConn in 1990 East Regional final.|
|Christian Laettner (2)||Duke||In perhaps most memorable shot in NCAA playoff history, he received pass from opposite baseline from Grant Hill and sank turnaround jumper near top of the key for 104-103 overtime victory against Kentucky in 1992 East Regional final.|
|Gabe Lewullis||Princeton||Layup off a back-door cut in closing seconds proved decisive for #13 seed in 43-41 triumph against UCLA in first round of 1996 Southeast Regional.|
|Chris Lofton||Tennessee||Jumper from 19 feet for #2 seed in 63-61 win against upstart Winthrop in first round of 2006 Washington/East Regional.|
|Brook Lopez||Stanford||Dropped in right-baseline leaner with 1.3 seconds remaining to outlast Marquette in overtime, 82-81, in second round of 2008 South Regional.|
|Korie Lucious||Michigan State||Three-pointer from top of key in 85-83 decision over Maryland in second round of 2010 Midwest Regional.|
|Mike Miller||Florida||Driving layup in overtime gave eventual national runner-up a 69-68 nod over Butler in first round of 2000 East Regional.|
|Maurice Newby||Northern Iowa||Three-point basket with four seconds remaining in 74-71 triumph against #3 seed Missouri in first round of 1990 Southeast Regional.|
|Drew Nicholas||Maryland||Drove much of length of court before firing three-pointer from right side to nip UNC Wilmington, 75-73, in first round of 2003 South Regional.|
|Freddie Owens||Wisconsin||Three-pointer from left corner capped comeback from 13-point deficit in 61-60 success against Tulsa in second round of 2003 Midwest Regional.|
|Kenton Paulino||Texas||Three-pointer propelled #2 seed to 74-71 victory against West Virginia in Sweet 16 of 2006 Atlanta/South Regional.|
|Quincy Pondexter||Washington||Driving short bank shot from left side with 1.7 seconds remaining in 80-78 win against Marquette in opening round of 2010 East Regional.|
|Ken Pryor||Oklahoma||Backup's only basket in 1947 tourney, a long jumper in closing seconds, gave OU a 55-54 success against Texas in national semifinals.|
|U.S. Reed||Arkansas||In aftermath of clutch field goal by Louisville's Derek Smith, a criss-crossing drive to right side of mid-court resulted in heave giving Hogs a 74-73 win in second round of 1981 Midwest Regional.|
|Don Reid||Georgetown||Grabbed Allen Iverson's three-pointer falling short and flipped it back over his head for basket in 53-51 victory against Weber State in second round of 1995 Southeast Regional.|
|Scottie Reynolds||Villanova||Length-of-the-court drive and short jumper against #1 seed Pittsburgh for 78-76 triumph in 2009 East Regional final.|
|Ty Rogers||Western Kentucky||Desperation 30-foot three-pointer in overtime against Drake lifted WKU to 101-99 first-round victory in 2008 West Regional.|
|Vic Rouse||Loyola of Chicago||Junior forward jumped high to redirect center Les Hunter's shot from free-throw line into the basket to climax Ramblers' first year in playoffs with 60-58 overtime success against Cincinnati in 1963 championship game.|
|Keith Smart||Indiana||Junior college recruit, IU's fifth-leading scorer, tallied 12 of the Hoosiers' final 15 points, including 15-foot jumper from left baseline to give them a 74-73 victory against Syracuse in 1987 championship game.|
|Ishmael Smith||Wake Forest||Jumper from right side with less than two seconds remaining capped comeback from eight-point deficit in overtime in 81-80 win against Texas in opening round of 2010 East Regional.|
|John Smith||Saint Joseph's||Converted layup with three seconds remaining in 49-48 decision over top-ranked DePaul in second round of 1981 Mideast Regional.|
|Steve Smith||Michigan State||Three-pointer with one tick remaining beat Wisconsin-Green Bay, 61-58, in 1991 West Regional opener.|
|Dave Sorenson||Ohio State||Banked in shot with three seconds remaining to give OSU an 82-81 victory against Kentucky in 1968 Mideast Regional final at Lexington, Ky., where fifth-ranked UK failed to lose all season.|
|Terence Stansbury||Temple||Swished 25-footer for 65-63 win against St. John's in first round of 1984 East Regional.|
|Terrell Taylor||Creighton||His eighth three-pointer of game gave Bluejays an 83-82 double-overtime win against Florida in first round of 2002 Midwest Regional.|
|Danero Thomas||Murray State||Fall-away jumper from right side just inside three-point arc for #13 seed secured 66-65 verdict over Vanderbilt in 2010 West Regional.|
|Andre Turner||Memphis State||"Little General" contributed back-to-back game-winning shots in Midwest Regional (67-66 vs. UAB in overtime and 59-57 vs. Boston College) to carry Tigers to 1985 Final Four.|
|Jermaine Wallace||Northwestern State||Step-back three-pointer from left corner upset #3 seed Iowa, 64-63, in first round of 2006 Atlanta/South Regional.|
|John Wallace||Syracuse||Lean-in three-pointer with less than three seconds remaining in overtime for 83-81 win against Georgia in 1996 West Regional semifinals.|
|Jarrod West||West Virginia||Banked in three-pointer with less than one second remaining for 75-74 victory against #2 seed Cincinnati in second round of 1998 West Regional.|
|Herb Wilkinson||Utah||Freshman swingman connected from beyond head of the key with three seconds remaining to give Utes a 42-40 overtime win against Dartmouth in 1944 championship game.|
|Danny Young||Wake Forest||Drove to hoop for basket and 73-71 triumph in overtime against #1 seed DePaul in 1984 Midwest Regional semifinals, spoiling legendary coach Ray Meyer's swan song.|
An average of four coaches per year leave NCAA playoff teams since seeding started in 1979. The first tournament mentor to depart this season was Steve Pikiell, who abandoned Stony Brook for Rutgers to try to end a Scarlet-fever, Knight-mare start as member of the Big Ten Conference. It might be a move up financially for Pikiell, but it's debatable as to whether he'll ever direct the over-matched Scarlet Knights to respectability in the Big Ten. It didn't take long for this year to surpass the average of four such mentors in this category.
Only three of the 13 coaches in the previous four years in this category - Steve Alford (UCLA), Larry Eustachy (Colorado State) and John Groce (Illinois) - have gone on to win an NCAA playoff game at their latest outpost. In fact, Alford and Groce already are on shaky ground.
In every year since 1968, directing a team to the NCAA Tournament has been a springboard to what many believed was bigger-and-better things at a "poach-a-coach" school. Following are head coaches since the tourney field expanded to at least 64 entrants in 1985 who had a change of heart and accepted similar job at a different major college promptly after directing team to the NCAA playoffs:
1985 (six) - J.D. Barnett (Virginia Commonwealth to Tulsa), Craig Littlepage (Penn to Rutgers), Nolan Richardson Jr. (Tulsa to Arkansas), Andy Russo (Louisiana Tech to Washington), Tom Schneider (Lehigh to Penn), Eddie Sutton (Arkansas to Kentucky)
1990 (five) - Kermit Davis Jr. (Idaho to Texas A&M), Mike Jarvis (Boston University to George Washington), Lon Kruger (Kansas State to Florida), Mike Newell (UALR to Lamar), Les Robinson (East Tennessee State to North Carolina State)
1994 (eight) - Tom Asbury (Pepperdine to Kansas State), Rick Barnes (Providence to Clemson), Jeff Capel Jr. (North Carolina A&T to Old Dominion), Kevin O'Neill (Marquette to Tennessee), Skip Prosser (Loyola MD to Xavier), Kelvin Sampson (Washington State to Oklahoma), Ralph Willard (Western Kentucky to Pittsburgh), Jim Wooldridge (Southwest Texas State to Louisiana Tech)
1997 (five) - Ernie Kent (Saint Mary's to Oregon), Mack McCarthy (UT-Chattanooga to Virginia Commonwealth), Jim O'Brien (Boston College to Ohio State), Steve Robinson (Tulsa to Florida State), Al Skinner (Rhode Island to Boston College), Tubby Smith (Georgia to Kentucky)
1998 (seven) - Rick Barnes (Clemson to Texas), Larry Eustachy (Utah State to Iowa State), Rob Evans (Mississippi to Arizona State), Mark Gottfried (Murray State to Alabama), Mike Jarvis (George Washington to St. John's), Melvin Watkins (UNC Charlotte to Texas A&M), Tim Welsh (Iona to Providence)
2003 (eight) - Cy Alexander (South Carolina State to Tennessee State), Ed DeChellis (East Tennessee State to Penn State), Dennis Felton (Western Kentucky to Georgia), Ben Howland (Pittsburgh to UCLA), Oliver Purnell (Dayton to Clemson), Bill Self (Illinois to Kansas), Dereck Whittenburg (Wagner to Fordham), Roy Williams (Kansas to North Carolina)
2004 (eight) - Jessie Evans (Louisiana-Lafayette to San Francisco), Ray Giacoletti (Eastern Washington to Utah), Billy Gillispie (Texas-El Paso to Texas A&M, Trent Johnson (Nevada to Stanford), Thad Matta (Xavier to Ohio State), Matt Painter (Southern Illinois to Purdue), Joe Scott (Air Force to Princeton), John Thompson III (Princeton to Georgetown)
2006 (eight) - Mike Anderson (UAB to Missouri), Brad Brownell (UNC Wilmington to Wright State), Mick Cronin (Murray State to Cincinnati), Mike Davis (Indiana to UAB), Fran Dunphy (Penn to Temple), Greg McDermott (Northern Iowa to Iowa State), Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma to Indiana), Herb Sendek (North Carolina State to Arizona State)
2008 (five) - Jim Christian (Kent State to Texas Christian), Tom Crean (Marquette to Indiana), Keno Davis (Drake to Providence), Darrin Horn (Western Kentucky to South Carolina), Trent Johnson (Stanford to Louisiana State)
2010 (five) - Tony Barbee (Texas-El Paso to Auburn), Steve Donahue (Cornell to Boston College), Bob Marlin (Sam Houston State to Louisiana-Lafayette), Fran McCaffery (Siena to Iowa), Oliver Purnell (Clemson to DePaul).
2011 (seven) - Mike Anderson (Missouri to Arkansas), Patrick Chambers (Boston University to Penn State), Ed DeChellis (Penn State to Navy), Sydney Johnson (Princeton to Fairfield), Lon Kruger (UNLV to Oklahoma), Jim Larranaga (George Mason to Miami FL), Mark Turgeon (Texas A&M to Maryland)
2012 (six) - Larry Eustachy (Southern Mississippi to Colorado State), Jim Ferry (Long Island to Duquesne), John Groce (Ohio University to Illinois), Frank Martin (Kansas State to South Carolina), Tim Miles (Colorado State to Nebraska), Sean Woods (Mississippi Valley State to Morehead State)
2016 (seven) - Chris Beard (UALR to UNLV to Texas Tech), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh to Texas Christian), Scott Nagy (South Dakota State to Wright State), Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook to Rutgers), Tubby Smith (Texas Tech to Memphis), Kevin Stallings (Vanderbilt to Pittsburgh), Brad Underwood (Stephen F. Austin to Oklahoma State)
Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Jaylen Brown flamed out in what will be his lone NCAA Tournament appearance if he declares early for the NBA draft. Brown had more turnovers (seven) than his total of points (four) and rebounds (two) for California when the Bears were humbled by Hawaii in a South Regional opening-round contest. Elsewhere, Seton Hall standout guard Isaiah Whitehead, who had three games of at least 20 points against NCAA champion-to-be Villanova, hit only 4-of-24 field-goal attempts (0-for-10 from three-point range) in an opening-round defeat against Gonzaga.
Generally, sizzling scorers such as Brown and Whitehead have learned it's not always a day at the beach in postseason play. For instance, former NBA sensation Clyde Drexler averaged more than 17 points per game each of his last 13 NBA seasons, but he scored more than 17 points in just one of 11 NCAA Tournament games for the University of Houston from 1981 through 1983. Premier playmaker Steve Nash managed only one field goal in three of five playoff contests in the mid-1990s, shooting a paltry 29.2% from the floor. Two-time NBA slam-dunk champion Jason Richardson (5th pick overall in 2001) was grounded by the NCAA playoffs, going scoreless in three consecutive contests as a Michigan State freshman in 2000.
All-Americans-to-be Thomas Robinson (Kansas) and Tyler Zeller (North Carolina) each went scoreless in two NCAA playoff games. Eventual All-Americans Marcus Denmon (Missouri), Danny Ferry (Duke), Ben Gordon (Connecticut), Marcus Morris (Kansas) and Terrence Williams (Louisville) also went scoreless in a tourney game. Ferry scored fewer than 10 points in six straight tourney tilts before averaging 20 ppg in his last 11 playoff outings and Syracuse All-American Kris Joseph never scored more than 12 points in 11 NCAA playoff contests from 2009 through 2012.
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 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.
North Carolina A&T State appeared in the NCAA playoffs the most times (nine) without winning a tournament game until prevailing in a First Four outing three years ago. But N.C. A&T still has a long way to go to join the ranks of "quick-exit" schools such as West Virginia with as many as 14 opening-round defeats.
Connecticut, after absorbing nine opening-round losses in 17 years from 1951 through 1967, had the most opening-round setbacks for an extended period. But the Huskies didn't incur an opening-round reversal for 28 years until suffering two in a recent five-year span. Similarly, St. John's suffered eight opening-round losses in a 20-year stretch from 1973 through 1992.
Maryland was the first school to incur at least 10 NCAA Tournament defeats but never absorb an opening-round setback until the Terrapins lost to Santa Clara in 1996. Temple, losing in overtime against Iowa, incurred its fifth first-round reversal in the last nine seasons to rank fourth on the following list of schools most prone to sustaining an opening-round defeat:
School (Playoff Losses) NCAA Tournament Opening-Round Defeats Brigham Young (32) 19 (1950-57-65-69-72-79-80-87-90-92-95-01-03-04-07-08-09-14-15) Princeton (28) 16 (1952-55-60-63-69-76-77-81-89-90-91-92-97-01-04-11) Utah State (20) 16 (1939-63-71-75-79-80-83-88-98-00-03-05-06-09-10-11) Temple (32) 15 (1944-64-67-70-72-79-90-92-95-98-08-09-10-12-16) Missouri (26) 14 (1944-78-81-83-86-87-88-90-93-99-00-11-12-13) St. John's (31) 14 (1961-68-73-76-77-78-80-84-88-92-98-02-11-15) West Virginia (27) 14 (1955-56-57-58-62-65-67-83-86-87-92-09-12-16)
It might not end up on their tombstones but Hawaii's Eran Ganot and Wisconsin's Greg Gard achieved something NCAA championship coaches Jim Calhoun, Billy Donovan, Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Bill Self, Tubby Smith and Roy Williams failed to do - win NCAA playoff debut in his first season as a college head coach. Following is an alphabetical list of active coaches who guided team to an NCAA Tournament triumph in their first season at the DI level:
Active Coach School Debut Year Win in First NCAA Playoff Game Rod Barnes Mississippi 1999 Villanova in Midwest Regional John Becker Vermont 2012 Lamar in Midwest Regional Tony Bennett Washington State 2007 Oral Roberts in East Regional Jim Boeheim Syracuse 1977 Tennessee in OT in Mideast Regional Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh 2004 Central Florida in East Regional Mark Few Gonzaga 2000 Louisville in West Regional Steve Fisher Michigan 1990 Illinois State in West Regional Mark Fox Nevada 2005 Texas in Midwest Regional Eran Ganot Hawaii 2016 California in South Regional Greg Gard Wisconsin 2016 Pittsburgh in East Regional Chris Mack Xavier 2010 Minnesota in West Regional Frank Martin Kansas State 2008 Southern California in Midwest Regional Thad Matta Butler 2001 Wake Forest in Midwest Regional Brad Underwood Stephen F. Austin 2014 Virginia Commonwealth in South Regional
NOTE: Barnes (Cal State Bakersfield), Bennett (Virginia), Fisher (San Diego State), Fox (Georgia), Martin (South Carolina) and Matta (Ohio State) coached different schools this season. Fisher was interim coach in 1989 when he directed Michigan to the NCAA title.
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. Notwithstanding the misleading media's spin, the NCAA tourney hasn't been saturated with authentic upsets since the playoff field expanded to at least 64 teams in 1985. On the other hand, there has been only four years in that span failing to provide 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 54 times in the last 32 years after #15 seed Middle Tennessee State led all the way in stunning #2 Michigan State, #14 seed Stephen F. Austin surprised #3 West Virginia and #13 seed Hawaii upset #4 California. It was the first time in NCAA history a #13, #14 and #15 seed all won on the same day. At least the setbacks weren't as ugly as a couple of sorry SEC setbacks when Navy overwhelmed LSU by 23 points in 1985 and Siena smothered Vanderbilt by 21 in 2008.
Thirty-eight of the first 54 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. Gary Waters is the only coach to win two opening-round games in this category while in charge of two different schools (Kent State in 2001 and Cleveland State in 2009).
A #16 seed never has defeated a #1. Michigan State is the only #2 seed to lose its playoff opener after spending a portion of the regular season atop the AP national poll. Following is a rundown of the first 54 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 (8 victories)
|Year||#15 Seed Winner||Coach||#2 Seed Loser||Score|
|1993||Santa Clara||Dick Davey||Arizona||64-61|
|1997||Coppin State||Ron "Fang" Mitchell||South Carolina||78-65|
|2001||Hampton||Steve Merfeld||Iowa State||58-57|
|2012||Lehigh||Dr. Brett Reed||Duke||75-70|
|2012||Norfolk State||Anthony Evans||Missouri||86-84|
|2013||Florida Gulf Coast||Andy Enfield||Georgetown||78-68|
|2016||Middle Tennessee State||Kermit Davis Jr.||Michigan State||90-81|
#14 seed (20 victories)
#13 seed (26 victories)
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 match-up 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.
By any measure, the failures at the highest levels aren't restricted to Belgian officials. At least pretentious POTUS, after skipping funerals of Supreme Court justice and former First Lady, squeezed in vital task sharing NCAA playoff probability at Club Obama (a/k/a White House) prior to heading to Cuba and Argentina to work on his musical appreciation and tango groove moves. It seems as if ESPN should stand for Extra Sensitive Pious Network when going politico at the West Wing conducting tournament bracket selections. Granted, President Obama, a JV baller while attending Occidental (Calif.), demonstrates a sincere interest in the sport and his brother-in-law, Craig Robinson, works as an ESPN analyst after flopping as coach at Oregon State.
However, the Worldwide Leader should have labeled the puff-piece segment "Audacity of Hype" (not remotely Audacity of Hoop) unless the network gave equal time to perhaps a past or present Republican Senator. After all, Scott Brown (Tufts) and Jim Thune (Biola) were varsity hoopsters and might offer more firsthand knowledge while being among the striking number of politicians and political appointees who played the game. What's next if former Pitt hooper Mike Ditka can't speak his mind at ESPN without facing an NFL demotion?
Will Obama, spending more time doing the wave at a Cuban baseball game than speaking about the Islamic brutality in Brussels, become an NBA trade analyst after exhibiting such expertise in swapping five terrorist leaders for an American deserter? More adept at limp-wrested "wave" than hurling a Sandy Koufax fastball, the lame lefty would have embarrassed men all across the U.S. again by feebly throwing a ceremonial first pitch resembling his mom-jeans performance at a MLB All-Star Game. Will ES-PC-N allow Ditka to make any appeasement commentary if detached Prez thoughtfully responds to latest European terrorism by dispatching Lurch (a/k/a John Kerry) overseas for another James Taylor sing-a-long?
After securing credentials to where carrying Sick Willie's bags aren't an option, Obama will be qualified for his first real job in private sector overseeing ESPN hoop research if he knows former Marist/Oakland player Sebastien Bellin was among the injured in Brussels and actor Ted Cassidy - the tall fella as authentic Lurch in The Addams Family comedy TV series - was Stetson's leading scorer and rebounder in 1954-55. Upon promotion to position as Hoop Czar, he could "dreamily" and "fatherly" have ESPN colleagues recite opening line of Arabic call to prayer unless someone might be a Bible clinger. In the meantime, the vacation junkie First Family needs to hurry back to West Wing in one of two Air Force Ones on trip and conduct a couple more JV meetings with RevAl to help "Not So" Sharpton with his tax "bracket" before filing deadline in mid-April.
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. Following is an alphabetical list assessing the educational backgrounds of mentors in this year's NCAA playoffs:
|2016 NCAA Tournament Head Coach||School||Bachelor's||Master's|
|Dana Altman||Oregon||Business||Business Administration|
|Rod Barnes||Cal State Bakersfield||Business Management|
|Jim Boeheim||Syracuse||Social Science||Social Science|
|Tad Boyle||Colorado||Business Administration|
|Mike Brey||Notre Dame||Physical Education|
|Bill Carmody||Holy Cross||History|
|Tom Crean||Indiana||Parks & Recreation|
|Linc Darner||Green Bay||Management|
|Kermit Davis||Middle Tennessee State||unavailable|
|Mike Davis||Texas Southern||Telecommunications|
|Joe Dooley||Florida Gulf Coast||Speech Communications|
|Scott Drew||Baylor||Liberal Arts||Liberal Studies|
|Fran Dunphy||Temple||Marketing||Counseling & Human Relations|
|Andy Enfield||Southern California||Economics||Business Administration|
|Mark Few||Gonzaga||Physical Education||Athletic Administration|
|Eran Ganot||Hawaii||Economics and Sociology/Anthropology|
|Greg Gard||Wisconsin||Physical and Health Education||Counselor Education|
|Frank Haith||Tulsa||Physical Education|
|Greg Herenda||Fairleigh Dickinson||Business Administration and Marketing|
|Chris Holtmann||Butler||Psychology||Athletic Administration|
|Bob Huggins||West Virginia||Physical Education||Health Administration|
|Tom Izzo||Michigan State||Health and Physical Education|
|Ben Jacobson||Northern Iowa||Physical Education|
|James Jones||Yale||Communications||Educational Administration|
|Billy Kennedy||Texas A&M||Social Studies Education|
|Lon Kruger||Oklahoma||Business||Physical Education|
|Larry Krystkowiak||Utah||Business Administration|
|Mike Krzyzewski||Duke||Officer Training|
|Jim Larranaga||Miami (Fla.)||Economics|
|Dave Loos||Austin Peay||Education||Education|
|Chris Mack||Xavier||Communication Arts|
|Gregg Marshall||Wichita State||Economics/Business||Sports Management|
|Phil Martelli||Saint Joseph's||Political Science|
|Cuonzo Martin||California||Restaurant, Hotel, Institutional & Tourism Management|
|Matt McCall||Chattanooga||Exercise and Sports Science||Exercise and Sports Science|
|Nick McDevitt||UNC Asheville||History|
|Ryan "Archie" Miller||Dayton||Parks, Recreation & Tourism|
|Scott Nagy||South Dakota State||Business Administration|
|Nate Oats||Buffalo||Math Education|
|Steve Prohm||Iowa State||Education|
|Randy Rahe||Weber State||Elementary Education & Physical Education|
|Bill Self||Kansas||Business||Athletic Administration|
|Shaka Smart||Texas||History||Social Science|
|Tubby Smith||Texas Tech||Health and Physical Education|
|Kevin Stallings||Vanderbilt||Business Management/Marketing|
|Rodney Terry||Fresno State||Business Administration|
|Wayne Tinkle||Oregon State||Health and Human Performance|
|Mark Turgeon||Maryland||Personnel Administration|
|Brad Underwood||Stephen F. Austin||Radio & TV Communications|
|Roy Williams||North Carolina||Education||Education|
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, here is Day 4 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 conference to have five different members win the national championship although it has only one title in the previous 24 years. Hint: One of the five members to capture a title didn't participate in the NCAA playoffs from 1948 through 1993. The league came within eight points of going 0-11 in the tournament in 1995 and 1996.
2. Name the only conference to have all of its current members win at least one NCAA Tournament game in the 1990s. Hint: It's the only league to have all of its current members participate in at least 10 NCAA playoff games.
3. Who is the only coach to have more than 15 of his teams appear in the playoffs but none reach the Final Four? Hint: He has the worst record in NCAA Tournament history for any coach with at least 25 decisions and was also 1-5 in the NIT. He has more victories as a pitcher in the College World Series for his alma mater than basketball Final Four appearances. He is the only coach with more than 700 victories never to advance to the national semifinals.
4. Who is the only retired major college coach with more than 700 victories to never reach the Final Four? Hint: He is the only coach to go at least 20 years between NCAA Tournament appearances with the same school.
5. Who is the only coach to leave an NCAA champion before the next season for another coaching job? Hint: He is the only coach to earn a trip to the Final Four in his first college season despite finishing the season with at least 10 defeats. He is also the only coach to reach the NCAA final after finishing fourth or lower in regular-season conference standings. Moreover, he is one of just two coaches, both were also NBA head coaches, to take two different schools to the NCAA playoff championship game.
6. Who is the only coach to direct teams to the NCAA Final Four and the NBA Finals and compile a winning NCAA playoff career record? Hint: His son coached at three Division I schools, taking two of them to the NCAA playoffs.
7. Name the only school to become NCAA champion despite losing five home games during the regular season. Hint: The school didn't participate in nine consecutive NCAA Tournaments and twice in a four-year span in the mid-1970s lost a first-round game after reaching the national final the previous season.
8. Name the only coach of an NCAA titlist to previously play major league baseball. Hint: The Hall of Famer's 18-year college head coaching career was all at one university.
9. Who is the only coach to compile NCAA playoff records at least three games above .500 at two different schools (minimum of five victories at each school) before Rick Pitino arrived at Louisville? Hint: The coach earned a doctorate.
10. Name the only school to have six different coaches take the university to the Final Four. Hint: Of the schools winning at least two national championships, it's the only one in the select group to go more than 25 years between titles.
Although it appears the case, the Final Four hasn't eternally been the final word in national postseason competition. The 68-team NCAA playoffs, which played second fiddle to the National Invitation Tournament in their formative years, seemed to haughtily look down upon the NIT as little more than an acronym contest for derisive entries such as National Insignificant Tournament, Not Influential Tournament, Nominally Important Tournament, No Interest Tournament, Nearly Ignominious Tournament, Naturally Impaired Tournament, Never Impressionable Tournament, etc.
The NIT champion can proclaim, "We're No. 69!" But in an earlier era, the NIT was superior to the NCAA at a time when airplanes didn't dominate the transportation industry, television was in its infancy and New York's Madison Square Garden was the place to be if a team wanted extensive national exposure. If ever there was a concept whose time had arrived, it was the NIT in 1938. If ever there was a location to conduct a national tourney at a time when the sports page was the principal place to digest sports news, it was in New York because of Gotham's 20 or so daily newspapers.
As competition for this year's NIT unfolds, here are top 40 hits for the event, citing nuggets you should know about the history of the nation's oldest national postseason tournament:
2. The 1939 NIT final featured two unbeaten teams when Long Island University defeated Loyola of Chicago, 44-32, marking the only matchup in major-college history when two undefeated major colleges met in a national postseason tournament. LIU finished with a 23-0 record and Loyola 21-1.
3. Frankie Baumholtz capped his Ohio University college basketball career by earning MVP honors in the 1941 NIT when he led the tourney in scoring with 53 points in three games for the second-place Bobcats, including a game-high 19 in the final. He went on to become a major-league outfielder who led the National League in pinch hits in 1955 and 1956.
5. Long before Michigan's "Fab Five" made headlines as a freshman-dominated team reaching the 1992 NCAA Tournament final, Toledo's similar squad finished runner-up to St. John's in the 1943 NIT. The Rockets were dubbed "Friddle's Freshmen" because first-year coach Berle Friddle had an all-freshman starting lineup. Toledo's roster included Emlen Tunnell, who went on to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame after playing in nine Pro Bowls as a defensive back.
7. In the early years of national postseason competition, the NCAA playoffs were scheduled after the NIT, which was clearly basketball's showcase event. For instance, NIT runner-up Rhode Island State upended Bowling Green in overtime in their NIT opener in 1946 after the Rams' Ernie Calverley swished a shot from beyond halfcourt at the end of regulation in perhaps the most exciting moment in NIT history.
8. Many observers think the 1948 NIT, starting the tourney's second decade, was the best from a strength standpoint. If there had been a national poll at the time, it is believed that five of the nation's top seven teams were in the NIT, which was won that year by Ed Macauley-led St. Louis University.
14. The final year teams participated in both national tournaments was 1952, when Dayton, Duquesne, St. John's and St. Louis doubled up on postseason participation. St. John's was runner-up to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament that year after the Redmen lost their opener in the NIT against La Salle (51-45).
15. In 1954, the last four NIT survivors (Holy Cross, Duquesne, Niagara and Western Kentucky) combined to win 91% of their games entering the semifinals, while their NCAA Final Four counterparts (La Salle, Bradley, Penn State and Southern California) combined to win barely over 70% of their games. Niagara, the third-place finisher in the NIT, defeated 1954 NCAA champion La Salle twice during the regular season by a total of 27 points.
16. Dave Ricketts, a sophomore starter for Duquesne's 1955 NIT champion, went on to become a major-league catcher who played with the Cardinals in the 1967 and 1968 World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals.
17. NIT champion-to-be Louisville was ranked 4th in the nation by AP in mid-February of 1956 when it lost by 40 points at Xavier (99-59). Two years later, Xavier lost 10 of its final 15 regular-season games after a 10-1 start and the NIT asked the Musketeers to give back its NIT bid. Xavier, however, said "no" and went on to win the 1958 NIT title despite being seeded last under first-year head coach Jim McCafferty.
18. Garry Roggenburk, the leading scorer for Dayton's 1962 NIT titlist, went on to become a lefthanded pitcher for five seasons later in the decade with three American League teams - the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Pilots.
19. The prestigious ACC, prior to its inaugural season in 1953-54, instituted a rule that no member could participate in the NIT. The ban remained in place until Duke was eliminated by Southern Illinois in the  quarterfinals. The final NIT at the old Garden in 1967 belonged to SIU, a so-called "small" school sparked by a smooth swingman named Walt Frazier. He wasn't Clyde yet, but the future Knick was well on his way.
20. One of the most bizarre incidents in NIT history was halftime of a game in 1968 when Oklahoma City coach Abe Lemons, annoyed with his team after playing poorly in the first half against Duke, ordered the Chiefs back to the court during intermission to scrimmage rather than to the dressing room to rest and regroup. Announcer Howard Cosell rattled off several questions to Lemons: "Coach, are you crazy? Won't your boys be too tired to play the second half? Where did you learn this coaching tactic? Did you do this to amuse the crowd?" Lemons, as determined not to respond to the questions as Cosell was at getting an answer, fired back, "Listen mister, you may be big stuff in New York, but you ain't nothin' in Walters, Okla. (Lemons' humble hometown)."
21. The issue of "choice" came to a head in 1970 when Marquette, an independent school coached by fiesty Al McGuire, won the NIT after rejecting an NCAA at-large invitation because the Warriors were going to be placed in the NCAA Midwest Regional (Fort Worth, Tex.) instead of closer to home in the Mideast Regional (Dayton, Ohio). McGuire's snub led the NCAA to decree any school offered an NCAA bid must accept it or be prohibited from participating in postseason competition.
22. SEC rival Tennessee was the only school to hold Pete Maravich under 30 points until Georgetown and Marquette achieved the feat in the 1970 NIT. Maravich, the highest scorer in NCAA history, ended his career at the NIT sitting on the bench in civilian clothes because of ankle and hip injuries, watching his father's LSU team finish fourth by losing to Bob Knight-coached Army. Pistol Pete had, for him, endured a suspect tourney in the brightest postseason spotlight ever focused on his extraordinary abilities. He averaged 25.7 points per game in three NIT assignments (18.5 ppg lower than his career average).
23. Julius Erving's final college game with Massachusetts was a 90-49 loss to eventual NIT champion North Carolina in the first round in 1971. The Tar Heels captured the crown although their leading scorer, junior forward Dennis Wuycik (18.4 ppg), suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Minutemen.
24. The competitive NIT, boasting three double overtime games in 1971, was a stark contrast in than period to the NCAA Tournament otherwise known as the "UCLA Invitational." Seemingly invincible UCLA captured seven consecutive NCAA titles from 1967 through 1973 by winning 28 tournament games by an average of almost 18 points per contest. In 1973, the Bruins' four tournament victories were by an average of 16 points, including a 21-point triumph over Memphis State in the championship game. Meanwhile, NIT champion Virginia Tech won four exciting postseason games that year by a total of five points, including a game-winning basket at the buzzer in overtime in the final against Notre Dame. The next year, seven of the total of 12 NIT games in the first round and quarterfinals were decided by four points or less.
27. Anthony Roberts' NIT single-game standard of 65 points accounted for 73 percent of Oral Roberts' output in a 90-89 loss to Oregon in the 1977 first round. Roberts' outburst is even more impressive because the Ducks ranked fifth in the nation in team defense (60.9 points per game).
28. NIT attendance slipped to an all-time low in 1976 although national power Kentucky won the title. In 1977, former executive director Pete Carlesimo, the father of former Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo, saved the NIT by implementing a plan whereby early-round games were played at campus sites and locations across the country before the four semifinalists advanced to New York.
29. In a five-year span from 1980 through 1984 when the NCAA field ranged from 48 to 52 teams, Virginia (1980 NIT champion), DePaul (1983 runner-up) and Michigan (1984 champion) became NCAA regional No. 1 seeds the year after reaching an NIT final.
31. In 1985, the NIT started a preseason tournament, which evolved into the nation's premier in-season tourney and carried as much clout, if not more, than the postseason NIT. Coaches were fond of the preseason NIT because those games were exempt from counting against their regular-season limit of contests.
32. The NCAA postseason record of 14 three-point field goals was set by Kansas State guard Askia Jones in a 115-77 victory over Fresno State in the 1994 NIT quarterfinals. Jones, the son of former Villanova standout guard Wali Jones, poured in 28 of his Big Eight Conference-record 45 second-half points in the first 7:12 after intermission. His final total of 62 points, spurred by nine consecutive successful three-point shots bridging the first and second halves, was the second-highest scoring output in major-college postseason history.
33. The NIT's first nine champions lost a total of 25 games, but its 15 titlists from 1986 through 2000 combined to go 32 games below .500 in conference competition, including a 4-12 league mark compiled by 1988 Big East cellar dweller Connecticut and a 4-10 league record registered by 1996 Big Eight seventh-place team Nebraska.
34. The NIT's "final four" participants have combined to average more than 13 defeats per team since the NCAA field expanded to at least 64 entrants, including a grim 19-18 mark by 1985 NIT fourth-place finisher Louisville.
35. Former St. John's coach Joe Lapchick was the winningest coach in NIT history with a 21-10 record until Dave Odom tied him (21-3). St. John's has made more NIT appearances, won more NIT games and captured more NIT championships (six) than any school.
37. The NIT titlists since 1985 combined for a losing national postseason tournament record the year after capturing an NIT championship.
39. In 2000, Notre Dame forward Troy Murphy became the first consensus first-team All-American to participate in the NIT since forward Larry Bird of Indiana State, a loser at Rutgers in the 1978 quarterfinals.
Emphasizing a "one-and-only" theme for a "one-and-only" event, following is Day 3 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 coach to lose as many as five games in the 20th Century to teams with double-digit seeds? Hint: Four of the defeats in this category were in consecutive years.
2. Name the only historically black college and university to win multiple NCAA Tournament games. Hint: It posted the first three HBCU victories in the early 1980s.
3. Who was the coach of the only University of Detroit team to win an NCAA playoff game until the Titans defeated St. John's in 1998? Hint: Detroit lost to an in-state rival in a regional semifinal four days after posting its first tournament victory. The coach of that squad is the only Seton Hall graduate to win an NCAA tourney game.
4. Name the only school with more than 30 NCAA Tournament appearances to compile a losing playoff record and never appear in the national championship game. Hint: It's the only school to finish more than 10 seasons ranked in an AP Top 10 since the wire service's first poll in 1949 to never win an NCAA Tournament title.
6. Name the only conference to have three representatives at a single Final Four by winning regional finals against three members from another league. Hint: No player scored more than 20 points in the three Final Four games that year.
7. Who is the only coach with six or more NCAA playoff appearances to reach a regional final every time? Hint: His school is the only one to win back-to-back NCAA championships in its first two appearances in the tournament. His son was coach of a school in the same conference when the institution participated in the tourney for the initial time.
8. Name the only school to win at least one playoff game in a year it entered the tournament with a losing record after suffering 14 consecutive defeats during one stretch of the regular season. Hint: The school participated in the national championship game the previous year and was once runner-up in the NCAA Tournament and NIT in the same season. The school has also won just one playoff game since 1955, the season it finished with its worst overall record in a 53-year span and became the only team ever to enter the playoffs with a record of more than 10 games under .500.
9. Name the only school to have as many as seven different coaches compile losing NCAA playoff records. Hint: The school is more games under .500 in tournament play than any institution, but pulled off a first-round upset of a defending champion behind a star player who subsequently entered the coaching profession and compiled a 6-3 NCAA Tournament record with another university in the same state from 1989-90 through 1991-92.
10. Name the only school to advance to a regional semifinal in three consecutive campaigns despite having a double-digit seed each year. Hint: The school defeated teams from the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, C-USA, Pacific-10 and SEC during the NCAA playoffs in that span.
In a caste-like era separating the haves from the have-nots, imperial universities are seeking mega-conferences 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 the 2012 national championship before Michigan's John Beilein (Wheeling Jesuit, NY) and Wichita State's Gregg Marshall (Randolph-Macon VA) directed teams to the Final Four three years ago. Following is an alphabetical list of 2016 NCAA Tournament mentors who worked their way up the ladder after graduating from a small school:
2016 NCAA Playoff Coach School Small-College Alma Mater Dana Altman Oregon Eastern New Mexico '80 John Beilein Michigan Wheeling Jesuit (N.Y.) '75 John Calipari Kentucky Clarion (Pa.) State '82 Bill Carmody Holy Cross Union (N.Y.) '75 Ed Cooley Providence Stonehill (Mass.) '94 Andy Enfield Southern California Johns Hopkins (Md.) '91 Eran Ganot Hawaii Swarthmore (Pa.) '03 Greg Gard Wisconsin Wis.-Platteville '95 Frank Haith Tulsa Elon (N.C.) '88 Greg Herenda Fairleigh Dickinson Merrimack (Mass.) '83 Chris Holtmann Butler Taylor (Ind.) '94 Tom Izzo Michigan State Northern Michigan '77 Ben Jacobson Northern Iowa North Dakota '93 James Jones Yale Albany (N.Y.) '86 Edward Joyner Jr. Hampton Johnson C. Smith (N.C.) '95 Kevin Keatts UNC Wilmington Ferrum (Va.) '95 Gregg Marshall Wichita State Randolph-Macon (Va.) '85 Phil Martelli Saint Joseph's Widener (Pa.) '76 Scott Nagy South Dakota State Delta State (Miss.) '88 Nate Oats Buffalo Maranatha Baptist (Wis.) '97 Randy Rahe Weber State Buena Vista (Colo.) '82 Shaka Smart Texas Kenyon (Ohio) '99 Tubby Smith Texas Tech High Point (N.C.) '73 Rodney Terry Fresno State St. Edward's (Tex.) '90
When Thomas Wolfe penned, "you can never come home again," he didn't have some successful college basketball coaches in mind. Playoff participation must be extra gratifying for the following individuals coaching their alma mater in college basketball's grandest prize - a berth in the NCAA Tournament: