Oh, what a weekend. I honestly can't remember a better first weekend of March Madness. Add to that the fact that Jester decided to take the kids to visit her sister in Porkopolis, leaving me to my own devices, it was a weekend I won't soon forget. Or remember.
Here are the highlights from the weekend, both from the NCAA Tournament and my related shenanigans, and then my top ten fun facts about this year's NCAA Tournament.
- Behind Makai Mason's 31 points, 12-seed Yale beat 5-seed Baylor, 79-75, for the Bulldogs' first-ever tournament victory.
- 12-seed Little Rock came back from 13 down with about 3 minutes left in regulation to force OT with 5-seed Purdue, thanks to Josh Hagins's 26-foot top-of-the-key three-pointer with about 5 seconds left in regulation. The Trojans and Boilermakers needed two overtimes before Little Rock pulled off the 85-83 upset.
- My beloved 5-seeded Hoosiers silenced the critics by absolutely destroying 12-seed Chattanooga, 99-74. That was pleasant.
- 9-seed Providence got a last-second layup off an inbounds pass to shock 8-seed USC, 70-69.
- As I do every year, I took the day off to watch basketball. Along with a gaggle of other fellas who did the same thing, I went to a bar called The Stretch. Little did I know it was a Michigan State bar, which was all well and good until . . .
- 15-seed Middle Tennessee State led wire-to-wire for a massive upset of 2-seed Michigan State, who many picked as their favorite to win it all. Needless to say, the overall mood in the bar was not great after the Spartans lost.
- 7-seed Iowa and 10-seed Temple went to overtime before Iowa's Adam Woodbury putback with time expiring gave the Hawkeyes a 72-70 win.
- 13-seed Hawaii beat 4-seed Cal, 77-66, for the Rainbow Warriors' first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
- Around dinner time, I made a quick jaunt home to walk the dog. While doing so, I was walking by the house of an anonymous former Bears player who lives near me. He happened to be on his porch, getting his mail as I walked by. His alma mater had won a big game the previous day, so I drunkenly yelled, "Big win by the [his school's mascot] yesterday!" I clearly caught him off-guard, since I'm pretty sure he has no idea who I am, but we had a nice 10-second awkward conversation about his alma mater's basketball team, before I stumbled the remainder of the way back home, dropped off the dog, and returned to The Stretch.
- 14-seed Stephen F. Austin dominated 3-seed West Virginia, 70-56, while I sat at the Roadhouse 66 (or something like that), which used to be Uberstein. There were way too many millennials dressed like cats there. I wish that last sentence was a joke for several reasons.
- A few of us decided at some point that we needed to sign some karaoke, so we headed to Rocks. In between dominating the local amateur rock and roll singing scene, we witnesses a few insane endings to tournament games:
- After 6-seed Texas tied the game with 11-seed Northern Iowa with 2.7 seconds left, the Panthers inbounded the ball to Paul Jesperson, who hit a halfcourt at the buzzer for an amazing win.
- 9-seed Cincinnati got what looked like a game-tying dunk at the buzzer to send its game with 8-seed St. Joseph's into overtime, but the ball was still in the player's hand when time expired, capping a wild second day.
- Not having had enough to drink over the previous 11 hours, we headed to Longroom, a bar that is, in fact, a very long room, where I randomly saw some friends in town from Indy. After that, I went across Irving Park to The Diner Grill, where my friend Daniel experienced the joys of The Slinger for the first time, both that evening and the next morning, if you know what I mean. What I mean is that, while delicious, it caused him great gastrointestinal discomfort the next morning.
- Daniel went home, while Gregerson and I decided that greasy breakfast food had provided us with just enough of a base to keep drinking. We went to Rose's, a fantastic dive bar not too far from either of us. We bellied up, and then spent probably 45 minutes discussing music with the 27-year-old female bartender. At closing time, Greg suggested that we go to a late-night bar, to which I responded that I wanted to get a somewhat decent night's sleep, with the wife and kids out of town. The bartender overheard this, and the following exchange ensued:
Her: "Kids?! You have kids?!"
Me: "Yeah, I have three."
Her: "What?! How old are you?"
Her: "38?! I thought you were, like, 21."
I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not, but I felt pretty good about myself as I stumbled home and quickly passed out for nearly eight hours.
- After overcoming a rather solid hangover with the combination of Excedrin Migraine and an egg sandwich, I hunkered down on the couch for a nice afternoon of basketball watching.
- The second and third best games of the day were 3-seed Miami's hard-fought win over 11-seed Wichita State, 65-57, and 4-seed Duke's too-close-for-comfort win over 12-seed Yale, 71-64. Which brings us to the best game of the day.
- A bunch of us gathered at Rocks to watch the IU/Kentucky game. Good triumphed over evil, as my underseeded Hoosiers beat the underseeded Wildcats, 73-67. There's no way this game should have been a Round of 32 matchup, and it was played with the intensity of an Elite 8 game on both sides. I didn't sit for the entire game, and spent most of it pacing back and forth. According to my trusty Fitbit, I took about 1,500 steps during the game. A win that was good for the soul and good for the heart.
- After that, I headed to a restaurant called Sip for my friend Alex's birthday. The food was awesome, the service was average, and there was a crooked painting on the wall. There is no longer a crooked painting on the wall. Just so we're clear, I adjusted it so that's no longer crooked. I did not steal a painting from a restaurant.
- Next, we headed to Toon's for some drinks while watching the end of North Carolina's drubbing of Providence, setting up a Sweet 16 matchup between the Tar Heels and the Hoosiers this Saturday.
- After that, Daniel, his friend from Venezuela, Luis, and I went to Martyr's to see a band called Kung Fu, which I had never heard of before. I would described Kung Fu as a funk jam band. Everyone in the band was great, and it was a good time.
- We ended the night at The Globe, and I left Daniel and Luis after a beer to get another good night's sleep -- as much as one can get a good night's sleep when one goes to bed after 3 a.m.
- Another hangover, although quite mild, was again quelled by Excedrin Migraine and an egg sandwich. I then spent the several hours before Jester got home with the kids doing all the things around the house I told her I would do during the course of the weekend. Laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, taking the trash out, defanging the new cobras, shaving the dog, washing the sex swing, dusting our antique spork collection, etc. I finished just in time for her to walk in the door with my brood.
- 6-seed Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger's scored his only two points on a buzzer-beating tip-in to beat 14-seed Stephen F. Austin, 76-75.
- 2-seed Oklahoma got 29 points from Buddy Hield in the second half to help the Sooners pull out a tough 85-81 over 10-seed VCU.
- 3-seed Texas A&M came back from 12 points down with 44 seconds left to force overtime with 11-seed Northern Iowa. One overtime wasn't enough, with the Aggies finally completing their monumental comeback in 2 OTs, 92-88.
- Bronson Koenig hit a fall-away buzzer-beating 3 from the corner for 7-seed Wisconsin's upset over 2-seed Xavier, to advance the Badgers to their 3rd Sweet 16 in a row.
- In the final game of the weekend, 1-seed Oregon held off 8-seed St. Joseph's, 69-64, ensuring that the Pac-12 would not be shut out of the Sweet 16.
All in all, a great weekend. Now, here are the Sweet 16 teams, along with the last time they made the Sweet 16 (and their region, seeds, game time, and what station is televising the game):
South Region (Louisville)
(2) Villanova (2009) vs. (3) Miami (2013) - Thursday 3/24 7:10 ET CBS
(1) Kansas (2013) vs. (5) Maryland (2003) - Thursday 3/24 9:40 ET CBS
West Region (Anaheim)
(2) Oklahoma (2015) vs. (3) Texas A&M (2007) - Thursday 3/24 7:37 ET TBS
(1) Oregon (2013) vs. (4) Duke (2015) - Thursday 3/24 10:07 ET TBS
Midwest Region (Chicago)
(1) Virginia (2014) vs. (4) Iowa State (2014) - Friday 3/25 7:10 ET CBS
(10) Syracuse (2013) vs. (11) Gonzaga (2015) - Friday 3/25 9:40 ET CBS
East Region (Philadelphia)
(6) Wisconsin (2015) vs. (7) Notre Dame (2015) - Friday 3/25 7:27 ET TBS
(1) North Carolina (2015) vs. (5) Indiana (2013) - Friday 3/25 9:57 ET TBS
If you're like me -- and you better pray to Zeus that you're not –- you not only love the NCAA Tournament, but you are fascinated with the history and statistical minutiae associated with the tournament. Like I've done the last couple years, I'm going to drop knowledge bombs on your mind. Here are 11 fun facts –- you get an extra one because it wouldn't be fair if I left any of these out -- about this year's NCAA tournament.
11. 14-seed Stephen F. Austin's 14-point win over 3-seed West Virginia tied for the largest margin of victory by a 14-seed over a 3-seed in tournament history (Ohio also beat Georgetown by 14 in 2010).
10. Texas A&M's comeback win over Northern Iowa on Sunday was the largest deficit overcome in the last minute of play in college basketball history. It was truly amazing to watch. I was about to start crossing A&M off of my brackets with about 45 seconds left in the game, but then the Aggies made a layup, and I put my pen down.
9. Middle Tennessee State became the 8th ever 15-seed to beat a 2-seed, shocking the college basketball world by beating national title hopeful Michigan State (and is arguably the biggest upset ever in the first round of the NCAA Tournament). Here are all of the instances in which a 15-seed has beaten a 2-seed:
2016: Middle Tennessee over Michigan State, 90-81
2013: Florida Gulf Coast over Georgetown, 78-68
2012: Lehigh over Duke, 75-70
2012: Norfolk State over Missouri, 86-84
2001: Hampton over Iowa State, 58-57
1997: Coppin State over South Carolina, 78-65
1993: Santa Clara over Arizona, 64-61
1991: Richmond over Syracuse, 73-69
8. Every seed except a 16-seed won in the Round of 64 for only the second time ever (the first was in 2013).
7. Six ACC teams are in the Sweet 16, which is the most any one conference has ever had in a single year.
6. For the first time since 2012, all 1-seeds survived the first weekend and advanced to the Sweet 16. If all four 1-seeds win their Sweet 16 games, it will only be the 8th time since seeding began in 1979 that all four 1-seeds will have advanced to the Elite 8. 1987, 1993, 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, and 2009 were the other years. Of course, 2008 is the only year in which all four 1-seeds advanced to the Final Four.
5. Two 2-seeds –- Michigan State in the Midwest Region and Xavier in the East Region -- lost this weekend. This marks the 33rd time in the 38 years since seeding began in 1979 that all four 2-seeds failed to advance to the Sweet 16, and the 19th year since 1979 that two or more 2-seeds failed to make the Sweet 16 (1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1990, 1993, 1997, 1999-2001, 2003-2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015). In three of those years, three 2-seeds failed to make the Sweet 16 (1990, 1999, 2000). 1982, 1989, 1995, 1996, and 2009 are the only years in which all four 2-seeds advanced to the Sweet 16.
4. The average seed number for Sweet 16 teams this year is 4.125, making this the lowest average seed number in the Sweet 16 since 2009 and only the third time in the last 20 years that the average seed number has been that low. It still seems pretty high if you consider that, if the seeding played out as it should (i.e., all teams seeded 1-4 advancing to the Sweet 16, which has never happened), the average seed number would be 2.5. Here is the average seed of Sweet 16 teams since 1979:
3. Gonzaga is the only mid-major in the Sweet 16, which is the fifth year in a row there have been 3 or fewer mid-majors in the Sweet 16 and the first time since seeding began in 1979 that only one mid-major made the Sweet 16. (I consider schools in conferences other than the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC to be mid-majors, even if a school is now in one of those conferences, so, for instance, Utah was a mid-major before joining the Pac-12 a couple years ago. It's not a perfect science. Deal with it.) 23 mid-majors have advanced to the Final Four since 1979. Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the number of mid-major teams that made it to the Sweet 16 since 1979:
2016: 1 (Gonzaga)
2015: 2 (Gonzaga, Wichita State)
2014: 2 (Dayton, San Diego State)
2013: 3 (Florida Gulf Coast, LaSalle, Wichita State*)
2012: 2 (Ohio, Xavier)
2011: 5 (Butler*, BYU, Richmond, San Diego State, VCU*)
2010: 5 (Butler*, Cornell, Northern Iowa, St. Mary's, Xavier)
2009: 3 (Gonzaga, Memphis, Xavier)
2008: 4 (Davidson, Memphis*, Western Kentucky, Xavier)
2007: 4 (Butler, Memphis, Southern Illinois, UNLV)
2006: 5 (Bradley, George Mason*, Gonzaga, Memphis, Wichita State)
2005: 2 (Utah, UW-Milwaukee)
2004: 4 (Nevada, St. Joseph's, UAB, Xavier)
2003: 2 (Butler, Marquette*)
2002: 2 (Kent State, Southern Illinois)
2001: 2 (Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Temple)
2000: 2 (Gonzaga, Tulsa)
1999: 4 (Gonzaga, Miami (OH), SW Missouri State, Temple)
1998: 3 (Rhode Island, Utah*, Valparaiso)
1997: 3 (St. Joseph's, Utah, UT-Chattanooga)
1996: 3 (Cincinnati, Massachusetts*, Utah)
1995: 3 (Massachusetts, Memphis, Tulsa)
1994: 2 (Marquette, Tulsa)
1993: 4 (Cincinnati, George Washington, Temple, Western Kentucky)
1992: 5 (Cincinnati*, Memphis State, Massachusetts, New Mexico State, UTEP)
1991: 4 (Eastern Michigan, Temple, UNLV*, Utah)
1990: 4 (Ball State, Loyola Marymount, UNLV**, Xavier)
1989: 2 (Louisville, UNLV)
1988: 4 (Louisville, Rhode Island, Richmond, Temple)
1987: 3 (DePaul, UNLV*, Wyoming)
1986: 5 (Cleveland State, DePaul, Louisville**, Navy, UNLV)
1985: 3 (Louisiana Tech, Loyola (IL), Memphis State*)
1984: 6 (Dayton, DePaul, Houston*, Louisville, Memphis State, UNLV)
1983: 4 (Houston*, Louisville, Memphis State, Utah)
1982: 6 (Fresno State, Houston*, Idaho, Louisville*, Memphis State, UAB)
1981: 5 (BYU, St. Joseph's, UAB, Utah, Wichita State)
1980: 2 (Lamar, Louisville**)
1979: 8 (DePaul*, Indiana State*, Louisville, Marquette, Penn*, Rutgers, San Francisco, Toledo)
*Advanced to Final Four
**Won NCAA title
2. For the second year in a row, there are only 2 teams seeded 8 or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16. Both are double-digit seeds, which is the 23rd time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that multiple double-digit seeds have made it to the second weekend. Eleven teams seeded 8 or higher have advanced to the Final Four (Villanova in 1985 was the only national champion). Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the number of teams seeded #8 or lower that made it to the Sweet 16 since 1979:
2016: 2 (#10 Syracuse, #11 Gonzaga)
2015: 2 (#8 NC State, #11 UCLA)
2014: 4 (#8 Kentucky*, #10 Stanford, #11 Dayton, #11 Tennessee)
2013: 4 (#9 Wichita State*, #12 Oregon, #13 LaSalle, and #15 Florida Gulf Coast)
2012: 3 (#10 Xavier, #11 NC State, and #13 Ohio)
2011: 5 (#8 Butler*, #10 Florida State, #11 Marquette, #11 VCU*, and #12 Richmond)
2010: 4 (#9 Northern Iowa, #10 St. Mary's, #11 Washington, #12 Cornell)
2009: 1 (#12 Arizona)
2008: 3 (#10 Davidson, #12 Villanova, #12 Western Kentucky)
2006: 2 (#11 George Mason*, #13 Bradley)
2005: 2 (#10 North Carolina State, #12 UW-Milwaukee)
2004: 3 (#8 Alabama, #9 UAB, #10 Nevada)
2003: 2 (#10 Auburn, #12 Butler)
2002: 4 (#8 UCLA, #10 Kent State, #11 Southern Illinois, #12 Missouri)
2001: 3 (#10 Georgetown, #11 Temple, #12 Gonzaga)
2000: 4 (#8 North Carolina*, #8 Wisconsin*, #10 Seton Hall, #10 Gonzaga)
1999: 5 (#10 Gonzaga, #10 Miami (OH), #10 Purdue, #12 Southwest Missouri State, #13 Oklahoma)
1998: 4 (#8 Rhode Island, #10 West Virginia, #11 Washington, #13 Valparaiso)
1997: 3 (#10 Texas, #10 Providence, #14 UT-Chattanooga)
1996: 2 (#8 Georgia, #12 Arkansas)
1994: 2 (#9 Boston College, #10 Maryland, #12 Tulsa)
1993: 1 (#12 George Washington)
1992: 2 (#9 UTEP, #12 New Mexico State)
1991: 3 (#10 Temple, #11 Connecticut, #12 Eastern Michigan)
1990: 4 (#8 North Carolina, #10 Texas, #11 Loyola Marymount, #12 Ball State)
1989: 1 (#11 Minnesota)
1988: 2 (#11 Rhode Island, #13 Richmond)
1987: 2 (#10 LSU, #12 Wyoming)
1986: 4 (#8 Auburn, #11 LSU*, #12 DePaul, #14 Cleveland State)
1985: 4 (#8 Villanova**, #11 Auburn, #11 Boston College, #12 Kentucky)
1984: 1 (#10 Dayton)
1983: 1 (#10 Utah)
1982: 1 (#8 Boston College)
1981: 2 (#8 Kansas State, #9 St. Joseph's)
1980: 2 (#8 UCLA*, #10 Lamar)
1979: 2 (#9 Penn*, #10 St. John's)
*Advanced to Final Four
**Won NCAA title
1. An NCAA Tournament record ten double-digit seeds won their Round of 64 games. Two of them advanced to the Sweet 16. In the Midwest Region, 10-seed Syracuse and 11-seed Gonzaga will play on Friday, which means that a double-digit seed is guaranteed to advance to the Elite 8, meaning that whichever team that advances will become the 17th double-digit seed to have advanced to the Elite 8 since seeding began in 1979:
2016: #10 Syracuse or #11 Gonzaga
2014: #11 Dayton
2011: #11 VCU*
2008: #10 Davidson
2006: #11 George Mason*
2002: #10 Kent State, #12 Missouri
2001: #11 Temple
1999: #10 Gonzaga
1997: #10 Providence
1991: #10 Temple
1990: #10 Texas, #11 Loyola Marymount
1987: #10 LSU
1986: #11 LSU*
1984: #10 Dayton
1979: #10 St. John's*Advanced to Final Four