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Brush up on your NCAA Tourney trivia

Published On: Mar 22 2012 11:58:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 07 2013 01:45:06 PM CST
NCAA Tournament Final Four basketball 2009

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

The NCAA tourney is already awesome enough. But doggone it, this is America, and we always are looking to improve upon what we got. So how about we make the tournament more meaningful by going a little deeper and adding some context to this sacrosanct event?

Let's look at the history it's nestled in and point out some of the most interesting facts about the NCAA Men's College Basketball Tournament.

Some perspective will make watching the games more fun. Plus, you can look smart when you say, "You know, Duke's run has been impressive, but it doesn't hold a candle to the streak Houston had in the early '80s, going to three straight final fours."

Sure, some folks will think you have too much time on your hands, but others will worship your godlike sports knowledge. So read on to fulfill your dreams of being worshipped by your fellow fans ...

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Wooden, UCLA basketball

No. 5: The basics

Yeah, we know all the big names, but historically how have they fared? Let's rank 'em.

First let's start with the five schools with the most tournament championships: No. 1 is UCLA, with 11 titles, winning 10 of them in a 12-season span from 1964 to 1975. Kentucky falls in at No. 2 with seven titles. Then it's Indiana and North Carolina with five each, and lastly, Duke with four. (By the way, Oregon won the first title in 1939, its only one.)

How about another parameter? Final Four appearances: a similar, but different list. This time North Carolina ties UCLA with for the top spot with 18 visits. Third place is Duke with 15. Kentucky ranks fourth with 14 appearances, with Kansas fifth with its 13 trips.

Here's a cool bonus fact: The largest margin of victory in a championship game is 30 points. In 1990, UNLV spanked Duke 103-73. (You can almost hear all the Duke haters out there shouting "Yeah!")

Austin Carr, Notre Dame basketball

No. 4: High scorer

Here's an oldie but goodie. (And shame on you for not knowing this basic March Madness trivia.) The most points scored in a tournament game goes to ... No, not Michael Jordan, Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton or Magic Johnson, but Austin Carr.

Do you know who he played for? No? Well two-times shame on you then. He played for Notre Dame. And do you now how many? Aw, forget it, let's just get on with this.

He scored a whopping 61 points in an opening round game against Ohio University in 1970. And though you may have expected some crazy Wilt-type number, let's just keep this in perspective: imagine if a player did this today. It would be insane and you can bet he would own the Twitterverse for a little while.

And this wasn't exactly a fluke. Mr. Carr was a stud in the postseason, serving up a record that may stand for good: a 50-point scoring average in seven NCAA tournament games.

college basketball tournament bracket graphic

No. 3: Sweetless 16

Even casual fans know that the lowest seed in any region (the 16th seed) has never won a game since the tournament expanded in 1985. To do that, they'd have to beat their first opponent (duh), and that would be the No. 1 seed.

But it did almost happened once. Michigan State was the Goliath and David took him to overtime before losing by a pittance. Who was David? Why Murray State, and the year was 1990 -- you know, back when the shorts were still short and the hair was buzz-cut, Theo Huxtable-like.

When the dust cleared, Michigan State won 75-71 (but did lose two games later, in overtime, to Georgia Tech).

And since we're on the topic, how about a list of the No. 15 seeds who knocked off their No. 2 seed suckers: Richmond in 1991, Santa Clara in 1993, Coppin State in 1997, Hampton in 2001 and Lehigh (over Duke) and Norfolk State (over Missouri) this year.

Colonial Life Arena, Center, Columbia South Carolina

No. 2: Some real controversy

We're not talking about a bad call here. The tournament brings together practically every faction of the U.S. community, and this is bound to cause some head-butting. So though we keep the rest of this article fun and light, one fact about a more serious topic is appropriate.

One stadium, though well-suited and even built for the purpose of hosting tournament games, has been made ineligible to do so.

What's the beef? Well South Carolina, where the arena in question -- Columbia's 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena -- is located, is proud of their history. So they sport a Confederate battle flag on a soldiers' memorial nearby on the South Carolina Statehouse grounds.

Amid protests during 2002 tournament games at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, S.C., the NCAA recognized the requests of the NAACP and the Black Coaches Association by banning the state, and thus both the Bi-Lo Center and the Colonial Life Arena, from hosting any further tournament games.

DePaul University old basketball logo

No. 1: De-aPauling

Can you imagine having the prestige of having a coveted No. 1 seed and losing your first game? OK, OK. It's true that a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1, BUT, pre-1985, top seeds got first-round byes. And some did lose in the second round -- their first game.

Now enters this bit of trivia. No. 1-seeded DePaul University lost its opening, second-round game to UCLA in 1980. Bummer. But there's always next year, right?

Indeed, they came back, secured a No. 1 seed and ... lost again, this time to St. Joseph's. Ugh! Finally, in 1982, the school's third consecutive year as a No. 1 seed, they went all Buffalo Bills on us and lost a third straight opening game, this time to Boston College.

Unfortunately, for DePaul, a great streak of conference titles and a stack of wins will always be followed up with a, "yeah, but ..."