Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Fun Facts About This Year's Final Four

After a relatively unexciting first round of the NCAA Tournament, followed by a pretty damn exciting second round, the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight did not disappoint, for the most part. 

Thursday night was about as good as it could get for an IU fan in a year that IU is not playing in the NCAA Tournament.  There were three great games that came down to the final possession, along with Purdue getting absolutely throttled by Kansas.

In the West, top seed Gonzaga held off 4-seed West Virginia, 61-58, when the Mountaineers failed to get off a shot in time on their final possession.  Then, 11-seed Xavier busted many a bracket by coming back from behind to beat 2-seed Arizona, 73-71.  In Saturday's regional final, Gonzaga left no doubt about who was the best in the West this year, dominating Xavier, 83-59.  This will be the Bulldogs' first ever Final Four appearance.

In the Midwest, 7-seed Michigan's magical run came to an end Thursday night, as the Wolverines' potential game winning shot missed in the final seconds, sealing the win for 3-seed Oregon.  In the other game, 1-seed Kansas beat 4-seed Purdue, 98-66.  That was fun to watch.  In the Elite Eight game Saturday night, no one gave Oregon much of a chance, especially considering the game was being played in Kansas City, basically an hour from Lawrence.  The Ducks didn't get the memo, getting out to an 18-point lead early in the second half, before Kansas closed it to 6 with a few minutes, just before Oregon pulled away for a 74-60 win.  It will be the Ducks' second Final Four appearance and first since 1939 –- yes, 1939 -- when they won the inaugural NCAA Tournament.

In the East Region, 7-seed South Carolina blitzed 3-seed Baylor, 70-50, which was followed up by the game of the tournament thus far, in which 4-seed Florida and 8-seed Wisconsin played in the first (and only) overtime game of the tournament this year.  The Badgers came back from a 12-point deficit in the second half tied the game up at the end of regulation on a circus three from Zak Showalter.  Not to be outdone, down two with four seconds, left, Gators guard Chris Chiozza took the ball the length of the court and hit the game-winning, on-the-run three as time expired.  On Sunday, the Gamecocks bested their SEC brethren, 77-70, clinching their first-ever Final Four berth.

In the South, on Friday night, top-seed North Carolina bested 4-seed Butler, 92-80, while 2-seed Kentucky topped 3-seed UCLA, sending Lonzo Ball to the NBA to drown his sorrows.  The Elite Eight game between the Tar Heels and Wildcats was an instant classic.  After exchanging leads for most of the game, UNC looked like they were going to pull away in the last few minutes, but then Kentucky roared back.  Malik Monk hit a game-tying three with about 7 seconds left.  North Carolina then sprinted down the court, and Luke Maye hit the game winner with his heels on the three-point line with 0.3 seconds left.  It's the Tar Heels' record-extending 20th Final Four and second in a row.

Here are the Final Four game times this Saturday (Eastern).  Both games are on CBS:
(W1) Gonzaga vs. (E7) South Carolina – 6:09 p.m.

(S1) North Carolina vs. (MW3) Oregon – 8:49 p.m.

As I do this time of year, I'm going to drop some Final Four statistical knowledge on you.  Get ready for it.

10.  For the third year in a row, a team with double-digit losses has made it to the Final Four.  Syracuse is the 18th team with 10 or more losses to advance to the Final Four (with all but five coming after seeding was introduced in 1979).  With 13 losses, the Orange is tied for the most losses ever by a Final Four team.  Of the previous 17 double-digit-loss teams, 6 have advanced to the title game, and 3 have won it all.  Here are the teams with 10 or more losses entering the Final Four (and how many losses they had when entering the Final Four):
2017:  South Carolina (10)
2016:  Syracuse (13)
2015:  Michigan State (11)
2014:  Kentucky** (10)
2011:  VCU (11)
2002:  Indiana** (11)
2001:  Maryland (10)
2000:  North Carolina (13), Wisconsin (13)
1988:  Kansas* (11)
1986:  LSU (11)
1985:  Villanova* (10)
1984:  Virginia (11)
1983:  NC State* (10)
1959:  Louisville (10)
1954:  Bradley** (12)
1952:  Santa Clara (10)
1950:  Baylor (11)
1949:  Oregon State (10)
*Champions
**Advanced to championship game

9.  With North Carolina's win Sunday, Roy Williams is coaching in his 9th Final Four, moving him to within two of Dean Smith for third place on the list of head coaching Final Four appearances.  Here are the coaches who have been to 5 or more Final Fours (John Calipari is not on this list because 2 of his 6 Final Four appearances have been vacated by the NCAA):
1 (tie).  Mike Krzyzewski - Duke (12)
1 (tie).  John Wooden - UCLA (12)
3.  Dean Smith - North Carolina (11)
4.  Roy Williams - Kansas, North Carolina (9)
5 (tie).  Tom Izzo - Michigan State (7)
5 (tie).  Rick Pitino - Providence, Kentucky, Louisville (7)
6 (tie).  Denny Crum – Louisville (6)
6 (tie).  Adolph Rupp – Kentucky (6)
8 (tie).  Jim Boeheim – Syracuse (5)
8 (tie).  Bob Knight – Indiana (5)
8 (tie).  Guy Lewis – Houston (5)
8 (tie).  Lute Olson – Iowa, Arizona (5)

8.  There are 9 schools with 8 or more Final Fours:  North Carolina (20), UCLA (18), Kentucky (17), Duke (16), Kansas (14), Ohio State (11), Louisville (10), Michigan State (9), and Indiana (8).  This is the 32nd year in a row and the 60th year out of the last 61 that at least one of those 9 teams has been in the Final Four.  In fact, one of those teams has been in all but 8 of 78 Final Fours (1941, 1943, 1947, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1956, and 1985).

7.  Oregon has not been to the Final Four since winning it all in 1939.  This 78-year drought between Final Fours is obviously the longest in history, since there was no Final Four before 1939 and there is no point further in time than the present.  Did I just blow your mind?  If not, here are both the longest current Final Four droughts and longest all-time droughts between appearances:

Here are the longest current Final Four droughts for teams that have previously played in at least one Final Four (and are currently Division 1 schools –- sorry CCNY fans).  I was surprised that half of them are "major" conference teams.  I'm adding a year, since the earliest these teams could make the Final Four would be 2018:
1.  Duquesne:  78 years (1940)
2 (tie).  Pittsburgh and Washington State:  77 years (1941)
4.  Wyoming:  75 years (1943)
5 (tie).  Dartmouth and Iowa State:  74 years (1944)
7.  Holy Cross:  70 years (1948)
8.  Baylor:  68 years (1950)
9.  Santa Clara:  66 years (1952)
10.  Washington:  65 years (1953)

Here are the ten all-time longest droughts between Final Four appearances:
1.  Oregon:  78 years (1939-2017)
2 (tie).  Stanford:  56 years (1942-1998)
2 (tie).  Texas:  56 years (1947-2003)
4.  West Virginia:  51 years (1959-2010)
5.  Oklahoma State:  44 years (1951-1995)
6.  Oklahoma:  41 years (1947-1988)
7.  Georgetown:  39 years (1943-1982)
8.  Illinois:  37 years (1952-1989)
9.  DePaul:  36 years (1943-1979)
10 (tie).  Arkansas 33 years (1945-1978)
10 (tie).  St. John's:  33 years (1952-1985)

6.  This year's Final Four features three coaches who are coaching in their first-ever Final Fours:  Oregon's Dana Altman, Gonzaga's Mark Few, and South Carolina's Frank Martin.  This is a relatively rare occurrence, as it has happened only 5 times since seeding was instituted in 1979, and 16 times since 1944 (all of the five Final Fours before that featured four first-time coaches).  Here are the years since 1944 in which three or more coaches made their Final Four debut:
2006:  3:  Ben Howland (UCLA)**, John Brady (UCLA), Jim Larranaga (George Mason)
1999:  3:  Jim Calhoun (UConn)*, Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Jim O'Brien (Ohio State)
1998:  4:  Tubby Smith (Kentucky)*, Rick Majerus (Utah)**, Bill Guthridge (North Carolina), Mike Montgomery (Stanford)
1985:  3:  Rollie Massimino (Villanova)*, Lou Carnesecca (St. John's), Dana Kirk (Memphis State)
1979:  3:  Jud Heathcote (Michigan State)*, Bill Hodges (Indiana State)**, Bob Wienhauer (Penn)
1978:  3:  Bill Foster (Duke)**, Digger Phelps (Notre Dame), Eddie Sutton (Arkansas)
1973:  3:  Gene Bartow (Memphis State)**, Dave Gavitt (Providence), Bob Knight (Indiana)
1971:  3:  Jack Kraft (Villanova)**, Johnny Oldham (Western Kentucky), Ted Owens (Kansas)
1970:  3:  Joe Williams (Jacksonville)**, Lou Henson (New Mexico State), Larry Weise (St. Bonaventure)
1967:  3:  Bob Donoher (Dayton)**, Guy Lewis (Houston), Dean Smith (North Carolina)
1959:  4:  Pete Newell (California)*, Fred Schaus (West Virginia)**, Peck Hickman (Louisville), George Smith (Cincinnati)
1955:  3:  Phil Woolpert (San Francisco)*, Bebe Lee (Colorado), Bucky O'Connor (Iowa)
1954:  3:  Ken Loeffler (LaSalle)*, Elmer Gross (Penn State), Forrest Twogood (USC)
1947:  3:  Doggie Julian (Holy Cross)*, Nat Holman (CCNY), Jack Gray (Texas)
1945:  3:  Henry Iba (Oklahoma A&M)*, Howard Cann (NYU)**, Eugene Lambert (Arkansas)
1944:  3:  Vadal Peterson (Utah)*, Earl Brown (Dartmouth)**, Louis Menze (Iowa State)
*Won NCAA championship
**Advanced to title game

On a similar note, if anyone but North Carolina wins the national title, it will be the 26th time that a first-time Final Four coach will have won the championship.  Of course, those numbers are heavily skewed towards the beginning decades of the NCAA Tournament.  Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, it has only happened 7 times.  Here is everyone (including before 1985), in reverse chronological order:
-Kevin Ollie (UConn, 2014)
-Bill Self (Kansas, 2008)
-Jim Calhoun (UConn, 1999)
-Tubby Smith (Kentucky, 1998)
-Jim Harrick (UCLA, 1995)
-Steve Fisher (Michigan, 1989)
-Rollie Massimino (Villanova, 1985)
-Jim Valvano (NC State, 1983)
-Jud Heathcote (Michigan State, 1979)
-Norm Sloan (NC State, 1974)
-Don Haskins (Texas Western, 1966)
-George Ireland (Loyola (Ill.), 1963)
-Ed Jucker (Cincinnati, 1961)
-Fred Taylor (Ohio State, 1960)
-Pete Newell (California, 1959)
-Phil Woolpert (San Francisco, 1955)
-Ken Loeffler (LaSalle, 1954)
-Doggie Julian (Holy Cross, 1947)
-Henry Iba (Oklahoma A&M, 1945)
-Vadal Peterson (Utah, 1944)
-Everett Shelton (Wyoming, 1943)
-Everett Dean (Stanford, 1942)
-Harold E. Foster (Wisconsin, 1941)
-Branch McCracken (Indiana, 1940)
-Howard Hobson (Oregon, 1939)

5.  The West Coast Conference has their first team in the Final Four (Gonzaga) since 1957 (San Francisco).  That is the longest drought between Final Four appearances for any conference in the history of the NCAA Tournament.  Here are the longest droughts for conferences between Final Fours (not counting current droughts, but counting defunct conferences):
1.  West Coast Conference:  60 years - 1957 (San Francisco) to 2017 (Gonzaga)
2.  Missouri Valley Conference:  34 years – 1979 (Indiana State) to 2013 (Wichita State)
3.  WAC:  32 years – 1966 (Utah) to 1998 (Utah)
4.  Southwest Conference*:  22 years – 1956 (SMU) to 1978 (Arkansas)
5.  Ivy League:  21 years – 1944 (Dartmouth) to 1965 (Princeton)
6.  Mountain States*:  17 years – 1944 (Utah) to 1961 (Utah)
7.  Big 12/Big 8/Big 7/Big 6:  12 years – 1974 (Kansas) to 1986 (Kansas)
8 (tie).  Pac-12/Pac-10/Pac-8/Big Six/Big Five/AAWU/Pacific Coast Conference:  9 years
- 2008 (UCLA) to 2017 (Oregon)
8 (tie).  SEC:  9 years – 1966 (Kentucky) to 1975 (Kentucky)
8 (tie).  Southern Conference:  9 years – 1950 (NC State) to 1959 (West Virginia)
11.  Big East:  7 years – 1989 (Seton Hall) to 1996 (Syracuse)
12.  Big Ten:  6 years – 1981 (Indiana) to 1987 (Indiana)
13 (tie).  ACC:  5 years – 1957 (North Carolina) to 1962 (Wake Forest)
13 (tie).  Colonial Athletic Association:  5 years – 2006 (George Mason) to 2011 (VCU)
15 (tie).  Big West:  3 years – 1987 (UNLV) to 1990 (UNLV)
15 (tie).  Conference USA:  3 years – 2005 (Louisville) to 2008 (Memphis)
17.  Metro Conference*:  2 years – 1980 (Louisville) to 1982 (Louisville), 1983 (Louisville) to 1985 (Memphis State)
18.  Horizon:  1 year – 2010 (Butler) to 2011 (Butler)
*defunct conference

4.  For the first time since 2008, there is at least one Pac-12 team, at least one team from the Pacific Time Zone, and at least two teams from West of the Mississippi River in the Final Four.  In fact, there are two teams from the Pacific Time Zone in the Final Four at the same time for the first time ever.

3.  There are two 1-seeds in the Final Four (Gonzaga and North Carolina).  Oddly, in the 15 previous years in which two 1-seeds have advanced to the Final Four, one of them has won the title only 9 times.  Here is a breakdown of how many #1 seeds have advanced to the Final Four each year since 1979.
2017:  2 (Gonzaga, North Carolina
2016: 1 (North Carolina**)
2015: 3 (Duke*, Wisconsin**, Kentucky)
2014: 1 (Florida)
2013: 1 (Louisville*)
2012: 1 (Kentucky*)
2011: 0
2010: 1 (Duke*)
2009: 2 (North Carolina*, Connecticut)
2008: 4 (Kansas*, Memphis**, North Carolina, UCLA)
2007: 2 (Florida*, Ohio State**)
2006: 0
2005: 2 (North Carolina*, Illinois**)
2004: 1 (Duke)
2003: 1 (Texas)
2002: 2 (Maryland*, Kansas)
2001: 2 (Duke*, Michigan State)
2000: 1 (Michigan State*)
1999: 3 (Connecticut*, Duke**, Michigan State)
1998: 1 (North Carolina)
1997: 3 (Kentucky**, North Carolina, Minnesota)
1996: 2 (Kentucky*, Massachusetts)
1995: 1 (UCLA*)
1994: 1 (Arkansas*)
1993: 3 (North Carolina*, Michigan**, Kentucky)
1992: 1 (Duke*)
1991: 2 (UNLV, North Carolina)
1990: 1 (UNLV*)
1989: 1 (Illinois)
1988: 2 (Oklahoma**, Arizona)
1987: 2 (Indiana*, UNLV)
1986: 2 (Duke**, Kansas)
1985: 2 (Georgetown**, St. John's)
1984: 2 (Georgetown*, Kentucky)
1983: 2 (Houston**, Louisville)
1982: 2 (North Carolina*, Georgetown**)
1981: 2 (LSU, Virginia)
1980: 0
1979: 1 (Indiana State**)
*Champions
**Advanced to championship game

2.  The average seed for this year's Final Four is 3, which is skewed by South Carolina being a 7-seed.  That said, this is only the 15th time since seeding began in 1979 that the average seed is 3 or higher.  Here are the average seeds for the Final Four since 1979:
2017:  3
2016: 3.75
2015: 2.5
2014: 4.5
2013: 4.5
2012: 2.25
2011: 6.5
2010: 3.25
2009: 1.75
2008: 1
2007: 1.5
2006: 5
2005: 2.75
2004: 2
2003: 2.25
2002: 2.25
2001: 1.75
2000: 5.5
1999: 1.75
1998: 2.25
1997: 1.75
1996: 2.75
1995: 2.25
1994: 2
1993: 1.25
1992: 3.25
1991: 1.75
1990: 3
1989: 2.25
1988: 2.5
1987: 2.5
1986: 3.75
1985: 3
1984: 2.75
1983: 3
1982: 2.75
1981: 1.75
1980: 5.25
1979: 3.5

1.  South Carolina is the 4th 7-seed to get to the Final Four and the 29th team seeded 5 or higher have advanced to the Final Four since seeding began in 1979.  Two of the previous three 7-seeds lost their semifinal games, while 7-seed UConn won it all in 2014.  Of the prior 28 teams seeded 5 or higher, only 4 have won it all, another 7 have been runners up, and the remaining 16 have lost in the semis.  Here are the years in which there have been any teams seeded 5 or higher in the Final Four since 1979:
2017:  1:  7-seed South Carolina
2016:  1: 10-seed Syracuse
2015:  1: 7-seed Michigan State
2014:  2: 7-seed UConn* and 8-seed Kentucky**
2013:  1: 9-seed Wichita State
2011:  2: 8-seed Butler** and 11-seed VCU
2010:  2: 5-seeds Butler** and Michigan State
2006:  1: 11-seed George Mason
2005:  1: 5-seed Michigan State
2002:  1: 5-seed Indiana**
2000:  3: 5-seed Florida**, 8-seeds North Carolina and Wisconsin
1996:  1: 5-seed Mississippi State
1992:  1: 6-seed Michigan**
1988:  1: 6-seed Kansas*
1987:  1: 6-seed Providence
1986:  1: 11-seed LSU
1985:  1: 8-seed Villanova*
1984:  1: 7-seed Virginia
1983:  1: 6-seed NC State*
1982:  1: 6-seed Houston
1980:  3: 5-seed Purdue, 6-seed Iowa, 8-seed UCLA**
1979:  1: 9-seed Penn
*Champions
**Advanced to championship game

Friday, March 24, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 3/24/17

1.  "Waiting For 22" by Queensr├┐che 


2.  "The Garden" by Guns N' Roses


3.  "Rock & Roll" (live) by Various Artists (Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell)


4.  "Puppet Show" by Danger Danger


5.  "Cum On Feel The Noize" by Quiet Riot


6.  "Rise 'n Shine" by Extreme


7.  "Love Bites" by Def Leppard


8.  "Down Fo' Boogie" (live) by Tesla


9.  "A Million To One" by Kiss


10.  "Helpless" by FireHouse

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry

As you probably heard, rock and roll legend Chuck Berry died on Saturday at the ripe old age of 90.  To call him one of the most important and influential people in the history of rock and roll would be an understatement.  He was the first African-American rock and roll artist to truly cross over into the mainstream.  He was really the first rock and roller that realized teenagers were the ones buying rock music, so he should at least have some songs that cater to them and talk about teenage issues ("School Days," "Sweet Little Sixteen").  More importantly, he was the first guitar god of rock and roll, bringing the electric guitar from an accompanying instrument to the forefront, and inspiring generations of future guitar legends.

I could go on all day lauding Berry and his influence, but I'll let you read his Wikipedia page if you want to learn more about his up-and-down life and career.  Even though none of his songs technically fit within the temporal parameters of Retro Video of the Week, I would feel like a boob if I didn't feature a Chuck Berry song this week.

I'm going with one of his later hits, "My Ding-a-Ling," a hilarious novelty song full of double entendre that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (as well as on the UK and Canadian pop charts) in 1972.  This was on a Chuck Berry tape I had when I was a kid, and I thought it was hilarious then, just as I do know.  It paved the way for Aerosmith's cover of "Big Ten Inch Record," The Who's "Squeeze Box," AC/DC's "Big Balls," and, more locally for me, Linsey Alexander's "Two Cats" (which I've heard live, but apparently hasn't been officially released yet).

Here's a live version of "My Ding-a-Ling" from 1972, which is the version that was on the tape I had. At over ten minutes, it's long, but well worth the watch, as Berry speaks to the audience about the song before he starts into it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Fun Facts About This Year's NCAA Tournament

For the first time I can remember, the first round of the NCAA Tournament was just okay.  There were a couple really close games –- Notre Dame's 60-58 escape over Princeton, Northwestern's 68-66 win over Vanderbilt on Thursday, and Michigan's 92-91 slugfest over Oklahoma State, and USC's 66-65 upset of SMU on Friday -- but there weren't any buzzer beaters, overtime games, or huge upsets. 

The Round of 32 made up for it, with several huge upsets, and 11 of the 16 games being decided by single digits (with several coming down to the last possession).

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):

Midwest Region (Kansas City)
(3) Oregon (2016) vs. (7) Michigan (2014) - Thursday 3/23 7:09 ET CBS
(1) Kansas (2016) vs. (4) Purdue (2010) - Thursday 3/23 9:39 ET CBS

West Region (San Jose)
(1) Gonzaga (2016) vs. (4) West Virginia (2015) - Thursday 3/23 7:39 ET TBS
(2) Arizona (2015) vs. (11) Xavier (2015) - Thursday 3/23 10:09 ET TBS

South Region (Memphis)
(1) North Carolina (2016) vs. (4) Butler (2011) - Friday 3/24 7:09 ET CBS
(2) Kentucky (2015) vs. (4) UCLA (2015) - Friday 3/24 9:39 ET CBS

East Region (New York)
(3) Baylor (2014) vs. (7) South Carolina (1973) - Friday 3/24 7:29 ET TBS
(4) Florida (2014) vs. (8) Wisconsin (2016) - Friday 3/24 9:59 ET TBS

If you're like me -- and you better pray to Odin 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 12 fun facts -- you get an extra two to make up for Thursday and Friday's lack of barn burners -- about this year's NCAA tournament.

12.  Northwestern made its first-ever trip to the Big Dance, beating Vanderbilt in one of Thursday's more exciting games, before losing a tough one to top seed Gonzaga on Saturday.  There are now only four original Division 1 teams that have not made it to the NCAA Tournament:  Army, The Citadel, St. Francis (NY), and William & Mary.  (Division 1 was created in 1973.)

11.  South Carolina won its first NCAA Tournament game and advanced to its first Sweet 16 since 1973 (back when the tournament field was only 25 teams).  This is particularly program-defining for a school that has only been to five NCAA Tournaments since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985, and has the dubious distinction of being one of 7 teams that has lost in the first round of the tournament as both a 2-seed and a 3-seed (in back-to-back years, no less, in 1997 and 1998).  FYI, Arizona, Duke, Georgetown, Iowa State, Michigan State, and Missouri are the other schools.  Arizona also did it in back-to-back years (1992 and 1993).

This leaves only 7 "Power Five" conference teams that have not advanced to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985.  Here are those remaining teams, with the year of their last Sweet 16 appearance in parentheses (including appearances that have now been vacated):
-Oregon State (1982)
-Rutgers (1979)
-Colorado (1969)
-TCU (1968)
-Virginia Tech (1967)
-Nebraska (never)
-Northwestern (never)

10.  This was the second year in a row and 5th time overall since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that three or more 11-seeds won their first round games.  However, overall, only five double-digit seeds won their first round games, compared to 10 last year (which was the most ever).  In the 33 years since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there have been 201 double-digit seeds that have won their first round games, which is an average of 6.09 per year.  

Here is a year-by-year list of every double-digit seed that has won its first round since 1985:
2017:  5 (#10 Wichita State, #11 Rhode Island, USC, Xavier, #12 Middle Tennessee State)
2016:  10 (#10 Syracuse, VCU, #11 Gonzaga, Northern Iowa, Wichita State, #12 Little Rock, Yale, #13 Hawaii, #14 Stephen F. Austin, #15 Middle Tennessee State)
2015:  5 (#10 Ohio State, #11 Dayton, UCLA, #14 UAB, Georgia State)
2014:  6 (#10 Stanford, #11 Dayton, Tennessee, #12 Harvard, North Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin)
2013:  8 (#10 Iowa State, #11 Minnesota, #12 California, Mississippi, Oregon, #13 LaSalle, #14 Harvard, #15 Florida Gulf Coast)
2012:  9 (#10 Purdue, Xavier, #11 Colorado, North Carolina State, #12 South Florida, VCU, #13 Ohio, #15 Lehigh, Norfolk State)
2011:  6 (#10, Florida State, #11 Gonzaga, Marquette, VCU, #12 Richmond, #13 Morehead State)
2010:   8 (#10 Georgia Tech, Missouri, St. Mary's, #11 Old Dominion, Washington, #12 Cornell, #13 Murray State, #14 Ohio)
2009:  8 (#10 Maryland, Michigan, USC, #11 Dayton, #12 Arizona, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin, #13 Cleveland State)
2008:  6 (#10 Davidson, #11 Kansas State, #12 Villanova, Western Kentucky, #13 San Diego, Siena)
2007:  2 (#11 Winthrop, VCU)
2006:  8 (#10 Alabama, NC State, #11 George Mason, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, #12 Montana, Texas A&M, #13 Bradley, #14 Northwestern State)
2005:  5 (#10 NC State, #11 UAB, #12 Wisconsin-Milwaukee, #13 Vermont, #14 Bucknell)
2004:  3 (#10 Nevada, #12 Manhattan, Pacific,)
2003:  5 (#10 Arizona State, Auburn, #11 Central Michigan, #12 Butler, #13 Tulsa)
2002:  7 (#10 Kent State, #11 Southern Illinois, Wyoming, #12 Creighton, Missouri, Tulsa, #13 UNC-Wilmington)
2001:  9 (#10 Butler, Georgetown, #11 Georgia State, Temple, #12 Gonzaga, Utah State, #13 Indiana State, Kent State, #15 Hampton)
2000:  3 (#10 Gonzaga, Seton Hall, #11 Pepperdine)
1999:  8 (#10 Creighton, Gonzaga, Miami (OH), Purdue, #12 Detroit, Southwest Missouri State, #13 Oklahoma, #14 Weber State)
1998:  8 (#10 Detroit, West Virginia, St. Louis, #11 Washington, Western Michigan, #12 Florida State, #13 Valparaiso, #14 Richmond)
1997:  5 (#10 Providence, Texas, #12 Charleston, #14 Tennessee-Chattanooga, #15 Coppin State)
1996:  6 (#10 Santa Clara, Texas, #11 Boston College, #12 Arkansas, Drexel, #13 Princeton)
1995:  6 (#10 Stanford, #11 Texas, #12 Miami (OH), #13 Manhattan, #14 Old Dominion, Weber State)
1994:  5 (#10 George Washington, Maryland, #11 Pennsylvania, #12 Tulsa, Wisconsin-Green Bay)
1993:  4 (#11 Tulane, #12 George Washington, #13 Southern, #15 Santa Clara)
1992:  5 (#10 Iowa State, Tulane, #12 New Mexico State, #13 Southwest Louisiana, #14 East Tennessee State)
1991:  8 (#10 BYU, Temple, #11 Connecticut, Creighton, #12 Eastern Michigan, #13 Penn State, #14 Xavier, #15 Richmond)
1990:  5 (#10 Texas, #11 Loyola Marymount, #12 Ball State, Dayton, #14 Northern Iowa)
1989:  8 (#10 Colorado State, #11 Evansville, Minnesota, South Alabama, Texas, #12 DePaul, #13 Middle Tennessee State, #14 Siena)
1988:  4 (#10 Loyola Marymount, #11 Rhode Island, #13 Richmond, #14 Murray State)
1987:  6 (#10 LSU, Western Kentucky, #12 Wyoming, #13 Southwest Missouri State, Xavier, #14 Austin Peay)
1986:  5 (#10 Villanova, #11 LSU, #12 DePaul, #14 Arkansas-Little Rock, Cleveland State)
1985:  5 (#11 Auburn, Boston College, UTEP, #12 Kentucky, #13 Navy)

9.  For the first time since 2007, no team seeded 13 or higher won a first round game (not counting the "First Four" games).  Since the NCAA expanded to 64 teams in 1985, this has only happened 5 times:  1994, 2000, 2004, 2007, and 2017.

8.  In the East Region, top seed Villanova and 2-seed Duke fell in the Round of 32.  This is the 11th time since seeding began in 1979 that the top two teams in the same region failed to advance to the Sweet 16.  Here are the times that has happened (with the year, region, and 1- and 2-seeds, respectively):
2017 (East Region – Villanova, Duke)
2015 (East Region – Villanova, Virginia)
2004 (St. Louis Region – Kentucky, Gonzaga)
2000 (South Region – Stanford, Cincinnati)
2000 (West Region – Arizona, St. John's)
1992 (Midwest Region – Kansas, USC)
1990 (Midwest Region – Oklahoma, Purdue)
1981 (Mideast Region – DePaul, Kentucky)
1980 (West Region – DePaul, Oregon State)
1979 (East Region – North Carolina, Duke)

Notably, only one national champion has come out of those regions (Indiana in 1981).

7.  A year after getting a record six teams in the Sweet 16, the supposed best conference in college basketball, the ACC, has a grand total of one team in this year's Sweet 16.  This is the fewest ACC teams in the Sweet 16 since the ACC expanded to 15 teams in 2014, and only the fifth time since 1985 that the ACC has advanced one or fewer teams to the Sweet 16.

Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, here are the major conferences –- which I define as the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 8/Big 12, Pac-10/Pac-12, and the Big East (until 2013) –- that only advanced one team (or no team) to the Sweet 16:
-ACC:  5 times (one team in 2007-2008, 2010, 2014, and 2017)
-Big East (until 2013):  5 times (no team in 1986 and 1993, and one team in 1988, 1992, and 2001)
-Big 8/Big 12:  12 times (no team in 1990 and 1998, and one team in 1985-1986, 1992, 1996-1997, 1999, 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2013)
-Big Ten:  7 times (no team in 1995-1996 and 2006, and one team in 1985, 1997, 2004, and 2007)
-Pac-10/Pac-12:  20 times (no team in 1985-1987, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2012, and one team in 1988-1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2003, 2009-2011, and 2016)
-SEC:  13 times (no team in 1988 and 2009, and one team in 1990-1992, 1997-1998, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2013, and 2015-2016)

6.  On the flip side, the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC each have three teams in the Sweet 16.  This is the first time ever that four conferences have each had at least three teams in the Sweet 16.  Here are the years in which at least three conferences have had at least three teams in the Sweet 16.  Note that 1980 was the first year in which more than one at-large bid could be awarded to each conference, so that was the starting point:
2017:  Big 12 (3), Big Ten (3), Pac-12 (3), SEC (3)
2016:  ACC (6), Big 12 (3), Big Ten (3)
2014:  Big Ten (3), Pac-12 (3), SEC (3)
2004:  ACC (3), Big 12 (3), Big East (3)
2003:  Big 12 (3), Big East (4), Big Ten (3)
2000:  Big East (3), Big Ten (3), SEC (3)
1998:  ACC (3), Big East (3), Pac-10 (4)
1989:  ACC (4), Big East (3), Big Ten (4)
1985:  ACC (4), Big East (4), SEC (3)
1983:  ACC (3), Big East (3), Big Ten (3)

5.  Villanova, the top seed in the East Region, fell to 8-seed Wisconsin on Saturday, making it the sixth time in the last eight years and 23rd time overall that a 1-seed lost in the Round of 32.  Here are the 1-seeds that have lost in the Round of 32 since the tournament began seeding in 1979:
2017:  Villanova
2015:  Villanova
2014:  Wichita State
2013:  Gonzaga
2011:  Pittsburgh
2010:  Kansas
2004:  Kentucky, Stanford
2002:  Cincinnati
2000:  Arizona, Stanford
1998:  Kansas
1996:  Purdue
1994:  North Carolina
1992:  Kansas
1990:  Oklahoma
1986:  St. John's
1985:  Michigan
1982:  DePaul
1981:  DePaul, Oregon State
1980:  DePaul
1979:  North Carolina

4.  Two 2-seeds –- Louisville in the Midwest Region and Duke in the East Region -- lost in the Round of 32.  This marks the 34th time in the 39 years since seeding began in 1979 that all four 2-seeds failed to advance to the Sweet 16, and the 20th year since 1979 -- and fourth in a row -- 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, 2016, 2017).  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.

3.  The average seed number for Sweet 16 teams this year is 4.0625, 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:
2017: 4.0625
2016: 4.125
2015: 4.375
2014: 4.9375
2013: 5.0625
2012: 4.5625
2011: 5
2010: 5
2009: 3.0625
2008: 4.375
2007: 3.1875
2006: 4.4375
2005: 4.5
2004: 4.5625
2003: 4.1875
2002: 4.6875
2001: 4.5625
2000: 5.3125
1999: 5.5
1998: 4.75
1997: 4.8125
1996: 3.6875
1995: 3.1875
1994: 4.25
1993: 4.0625
1992: 4.1875
1991: 4
1990: 5.5
1989: 3.125
1988: 4.3125
1987: 4.25
1986: 5.5625
1985: 4.875
1984: 3.8125
1983: 3.5
1982: 3.1875
1981: 4.5625
1980: 4.125
1979: 3.8125

2.  Gonzaga is the only mid-major in the Sweet 16, which is the sixth year in a row there have been 3 or fewer mid-majors in the Sweet 16, and the second year in a row and second time overall 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, Butler and Xavier were mid-majors before joining the Big East a couple years ago, but are no longer mid-majors. 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:
2017: 1 (Gonzaga)
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

1.  For the third year in a row, there are only 2 teams seeded 8 or lower that advanced to the Sweet 16.  Twelve 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:
2017: 2 (#8 Wisconsin, #11 Xavier)
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)
2007: 0
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)
1995: 0
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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Heat of the Moment" by Asia

Yesterday was not only the Ides of March, but also the 35th anniversary of the release of pop rock supergroup Asia's self-titled debut album.  Asia was comprised of a bunch of former prog rockers:  lead singer/bassist John Wetton (King Crimson, Uriah Heep), guitarist Steve Howe (Yes), keyboardist Geoff Downes (Yes, The Buggles), and drummer Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer).  

One might have assumed that with all of this prog-rocking progeny, Asia would have followed suit, but instead, they made more radio-friendly AOR rock, with wild success.  Their debut album spent nine weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts, and has gone quadruple platinum in the U.S.  It was the #1 album on Billboard's year-end chart for 1982, and ranked #95 on the Billboard 200 All-Time Album Chart.  

I was surprised to see that the band has released 13 studio albums, and their most recent album was released in 2014.  Their biggest success, however, came in the early '80s, as they had four Top 40 songs in the US from 1982 to 1983.  Their biggest hit was their first single and their most well-known song, "Heat of the Moment," which hit #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, #1 for six consecutive weeks on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and was Top 10 in five other countries.  It's also a song appropriate for today, as the NCAA Tournament's first round starts.  Things are going to get intense.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: NCAA Tournament Edition

The brackets were announced Sunday, and we are all set for what looks like a wide-open and exciting NCAA Tournament.  I have already filled out well over 30 brackets (not all for money –- calm down, Jester), and I'm not sure I have confidence in any of them.  Here are a couple initial random thoughts:
  • I think there are 9 teams that could legitimately win it all and about 15-18 teams that could legitimately make it to the Final Four, but at the same time, I wouldn't be shocked if all of them lost by the Sweet 16.
  • I think Villanova has the easiest path to the Final Four of any 1-seed, and I think North Carolina has the hardest path of any of the 1-seeds.
  • I would not be surprised if all of the 12-seeds beat all of the 5-seeds.
  • I love the fact that there are two first round in-state matchups:  in the West, 3-seed Florida State against 14-seed Florida Gulf Coast, and in the South, 2-seed Kentucky against 15-seed Northern Kentucky
  • That first round 7/10 matchup in the South between Dayton and Wichita State should be a doozy.
  • There are a also few potentially juicy matchups in the Round of 32 for rivalry reasons or otherwise:
    • In the East:  3-seed Baylor and in-state, former Southwest Conference rival 6-seed SMU
    • In the West:  (1) 4-seed West Virginia against former Big East rival 5-seed Notre Dame; (2) 3-seed Florida State against former ACC rival 6-seed Maryland
    • In the Midwest:  (1) 1-seed Kansas against 9-seed Michigan State:  Self vs. Izzo; (2) 2-seed Louisville against 7-seed Michigan in a rematch of the 2014 national title game
    • In the South:  2-seed Kentucky against 10-seed Wichita State, in a rematch of that 2014 Round of 32 game, where 8-seed Kentucky upset 1-seed (and undefeated) Wichita State
  • Fuck Purdue
  • Fuck Kentucky
Anyway, as I do every year, here are a couple lists of five teams each in a few categories that you should consider when filling out your brackets.  Expect there to be some contradictions, since that's the nature of predicting the NCAA Tournament.  Teams are in alphabetical order.  So you don't think I'm entirely full of shit (or perhaps to prove that I am), I'll put in parentheses what I correctly predicted last year.

Teams with the best shot at winning it all (last year, I did not have Villanova on this list):

1.  Arizona (2-seed West).  Have you seen Lauri Markkanen?  If his nickname isn't already the Flying Finn, it should be.  The 6'11" freshman from Helsinki is fun to watch.  He can handle the ball and post up.  Sophomore guard Allonzo Trier is fresh off being named MOP in the Pac-12 Tournament.  And Chance Comanche is probably the best name in the Tournament.  Sean Miller's team is pretty battle-tested this year, as Arizona's only four losses on the season are to top-4 seeds (Butler, Gonzaga, Oregon, and UCLA).
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  7-4

2.  Gonzaga (1-seed West).  The Zags have only lost one game all year, and frankly, I think it's probably good for them that they did lose a few weeks ago to BYU because that will take the "undefeated" pressure off.  They are a balanced team that has already beaten four other tournament teams (Arizona, Florida, Iowa State, and St. Mary's (3 times)).  Redshirt senior Przemek Karnowski is a 7' 1" beast down low, and Washington transfer Nigel Williams-Goss is the best point guard Gonzaga has had probably since Dan Dickau.  After getting to the Elite Eight two years ago as a 2-seed (where they lost to eventual national champion Duke) and the Sweet 16 last year as an 11-seed (where they came within a hair of beating 10-seed Syracuse, who went onto the Final Four), this may be the year the Bulldogs get over the hump.  Or maybe they'll be the first 1-seed to ever lose to a 16-seed.  I think the former is more likely than the latter.  If they do win it all, they would be the first mid-major team since UNLV in 1990, and the first Pacific Time Zone team to win it since Arizona in 1997.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  6-0

3.  Kansas (1-seed Midwest).  After a tough Elite Eight loss last year as a 1-seed to 2-seed and eventual national champion Villanova, the Jayhawks have the talent to get over the hump.  Frank Mason III is a national POY candidate, and Josh Jackson (assuming he can keep his nose clean) is a game changer.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  10-2

4.  North Carolina (1-seed South).  The Tar Heels got within arguably the greatest finish to an NCAA title game from winning it all last year, and they have the same level of talent this year, despite losing a few players to the NBA.  Their region is really tough, with Kentucky, UCLA, and Butler rounding out the top 4 seeds, but Roy Williams has proven time and time again that he can get it done in March (and April).
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  10-5

5.  Villanova (1-seed East).  The Wildcats are the defending national champions, and they didn't seem to miss a beat, despite losing NCAA Tournament MOP (and heart of the team), point guard Ryan Arcidiocano to graduation.  Josh Hart, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, and NCAA championship game winning shot maker Kris Jenkins are back, trying to make Villanova only the 8th school to ever win back-to-back national titles and the first since Florida in 2006 and 2007 (the others being Duke (1991-92), UCLA (1964-65, 1967-73), Cincinnati (1961-62), San Francisco (1955-56), Kentucky (1948-49), and Oklahoma A&M (1945-46)).  Like Arizona, these Wildcats' only losses were to NCAA Tournament teams (twice to Butler and once to Marquette).
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  15-3

Final Four sleepers (teams seeded 4 or higher) (last year, I did not have Syracuse on this list, but no one did):

1.  Iowa State (5-seed Midwest).  A year removed from a Sweet 16 berth, the Cyclones have a legitimate star in guard Monte Morris, and good guard play is usually the key to success in the tournament.  They also looked impressive on their way to winning the Big 12 Tournament title, and own a victory over Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.  Assuming they make it to the second weekend, they will likely face off again against the Jayhawks.  Win that, and anything is possible.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  10-7

2.  Michigan (7-seed Midwest).  The Wolverines finished the year hot, winning four games in four days after their charter plane skidded off the runway on their way the Big Ten Tournament.  They shoot the ball very well, and they don't turn the ball over all that much.  That can be a dangerous combination for their opponents.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  9-8

3.  Northwestern (8-seed West).  If the fucking Cubs can win their first World Series in 108 years, the Cavs can overcome a 3-1 deficit against the winningest single-season team in NBA history to give the City of Cleveland its first major sports title in over 50 years, and a loudmouth who constantly lies, has no political experience, and has bankrupted multiple companies can be elected President of the United States, all in the course of a year, then why can't the Wildcats go to the Final Four in their first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament?  They can, and here's how:  after beating Vandy in the first round, they catch Gonzaga on an off night.  Meanwhile, Princeton and Bucknell both pulled upsets in the first round, so Northwestern beats one of them to get to the Elite Eight, where they will face either St. Mary's (who beat Arizona in the second round) or Maryland, who the Cats just beat in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.  Still think I'm crazy?  Since seeding began in 1979, 12 teams seeded 8 or higher have made it to the Final Four:  Penn (9-seed, 1979), UCLA (8-seed, 1980), Villanova (8-seed, 1985), LSU (11-seed, 1986), North Carolina (8-seed, 2000), Wisconsin (8-seed, 2000), George Mason (11-seed, 2006), Butler (8-seed, 2011), VCU (11-seed, 2011), Wichita State (9-seed, 2013), Kentucky (8-seed, 2014), Syracuse (10-seed, 2016).  Of the teams seeded 5 or higher, 5-seeds lead the way with 7 Final Fours, but 8-seeds are right behind (tied with 6-seeds) with 6 Final Fours.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  6-8

4.  Notre Dame (5-seed West).  After six consecutive first or second round exits, Mike Brey's team has finally gotten over the hump into the second weekend and to the Elite Eight the last two years.  Last year, the Irish got within 6 points of going to their first Final Four since 1978, and a year after getting within 2 points of a Final Four berth in 2015.  The team is well-balanced with senior guard Steve Vasturia playing well again, and juniors Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell really coming on this year.  They can beat anyone, and have only lost two games since early February.  On top of that, they have what I think is a relatively easy path, assuming they can get by Princeton in the first round.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  8-8

5.  West Virginia (4-seed West).  If Notre Dame doesn't beat West Virginia in the second round, then there is no reason the Mountaineers can't make it to Phoenix.  "Press Virginia" is a ball-hawking nightmare that creates more turnovers per possession that any other team in the country.  They have been ranked in the Top 15 since the end of January, and they have proven that they can hang with or beat anyone in the country –- that is, if Huggy Bear doesn't have any more fainting spells.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  10-5

Teams seeded 4 or lower who may not make it to the second weekend (last year, I correctly put Cal on this list):

1.  Florida State (3-seed East).  I think this is the best Florida State team in a while, which I realize isn't like saying I think this is the best North Carolina team in a while.  However, the Seminoles haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2012, and have only made it to the second weekend once since 1993.  On top of that, they are playing Florida Gulf Coast (aka Dunk City), who will certainly be aiming to knock off an in-state major conference opponent on the biggest of stages.  Having seen FGCU play, they are certainly capable of pulling the upset, but even if the Seminoles make it past them, Maryland or Xavier would be up next, and either of those teams can beat FSU.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  13-4

2.  Kansas (1-seed Midwest).  Because it's Kansas.  During Bill Self's 14-year tenure as head coach, the Jayhawks have never been seeded worse than a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament, and yet they have failed to make it to the second weekend five times.  Last year was an "on" year, as the Jayhawks made it to the Elite Eight.  Will this be an "off" year?  In the second round, they will face either Miami or Michigan State.  Jim Larranaga and Tom Izzo are both capable of getting a game plan together to beat Kansas.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  10-2

3.  Kentucky (2-seed South).  The Wildcats are one of the handful of teams that experts seem to think can win it all.  After all, they are chockfull of 5-star recruits and have the greatest back court in the history of organized basketball.  But they are young, and they play in the weakest of the major conferences.  I'm not suggesting they will get knocked out by 15-seed Northern Kentucky in the first round (although I do expect the Norse will be foaming at the mouth with the chance to beat the in-state giant), but a matchup against either 7-seed Dayton or 10-seed Wichita State looms in the second round.  I though Wichita State was criminally underseeded, and you can bet that Gregg Marshall wants revenge for 2014, when his undefeated, 1-seeded Shockers drew a laughably underseeded 8-seed Kentucky in the second round, losing to the Wildcats, 78-76.  Maybe this is the Selection Committee's attempt to make that right.  On top of that, UK will be playing in Indianapolis, where anyone not wearing blue will be rooting hard against the Wildcats.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  8-4

4.  Purdue (4-seed Midwest).  The Boilermakers have a long and storied history . . . of underachieving in March.  Check this stat:  Purdue has been a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament 10 times since seeding began in 1979, Purdue has failed to advance to the Sweet 16 six of those times.  Matt Painter hasn't won a game in the NCAA Tournament since 2012 and hasn't made it to the second weekend since 2010. But Caleb Swanigan!  To that, I say, last year, the Boilers had Swanigan, AJ Hammons, and Isaac Haas, and they still lost to 12-seed Little Rock in the first round.  If they can get past Vermont in the first round (which is not a guarantee), they would face Iowa State or Nevada, both of which are not slouches.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  7-5

5.  Villanova (1-seed East).  Everyone assumes the Wildcats will cruise to the Elite Eight (or beyond), but not so fast.  After what will presumably be an easy win in the first round, the Wildcats will face either Wisconsin or Virginia Tech.  If it's the Badgers, don't be surprised if they pull the upset.  At an 8-seed, they were underseeded by at least a few seed lines, in my opinion, and they still have several key players from that 2015 NCAA runner-up team.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  15-3

Teams seeded 12 or higher with the best chance of pulling an upset in the first round (last year, I correctly put Hawaii, Stephen F. Austin, and Yale on this list):

1.  East Tennessee State (13-seed East).  The Buccanneers boast several big-program transfers, including former Indiana forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea and center Peter Jurkin, former Cincinnati guard Ge'Lawn Guyn, former Missouri guard Deuce Bello, and former Wichita State forward Tevin Glass.  They force a lot of turnovers, and can make plays on the offensive end as well.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  1-2

2.  Middle Tennessee State (12-seed South).  Yes, I'm strong on the Tennessee directional schools this year.  The Blue Raiders return many key players from their 15-seed team last year that beat 2-seed Michigan State in the first round.  While they won't be surprising anyone with their play this year (their record is 30-4), that doesn't mean first-round opponent Minnesota will have a cakewalk.  The Gophers haven't been to the tournament since 2013, and there aren't any redshirt seniors on this year's team that played on that team and head coach Richard Pitino is coaching in his first Big Dance.  While the game will be played in Milwaukee, which is obviously much closer to Minneapolis than Murfreesboro, I don't expect that will affect MTSU.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  2-1

3.  Nevada (12-seed Midwest).  The Wolf Pack have excellent guards, good rebounding, and nothing to lose.  Iowa State doesn't rebound very well, and I really just never trust teams from Iowa in the NCAA Tournament.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  1-2

4.  UNC-Wilmington (12-seed East).  The Seahawks have a great offense, and Virginia does not.  Furthermore, the Seahawks have the fewest turnovers per possession in the country.  It will also be interesting to see if the Cavaliers are still reeling from that monumental collapse to Syracuse in last year's Elite Eight.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  1-1

5.  Vermont (13-seed Midwest).  I watched Vermont in the America East Tournament, and I liked what I saw.  The Catamounts are riding the nation's longest winning streak (21 games), and three of their five losses are against tournament teams.  Also, fuck Purdue.
Record against NCAA Tournament teams:  0-3