File these in the ‘There’s A First Time For Everything’ folder. Because they’ve never been seen before in the NCAA tournament. Ever.
Duke plays against North Carolina
This is the 40th anniversary of the first time they were both in the tournament. In the four decades since, the participants in the most storied rivalry in the game have managed to avoid one another. They did meet once in the NIT. The Tar Heels won.
The No. 1 seed loses its first game against a No. 16
As in, 132-0. Was there a full moon in 1989? No. 1 seeds Oklahoma and Georgetown escaped East Tennessee State and Princeton by one point each.
The No. 1 seed plays against either a No. 15 or 14
Someone would have pull off a string of upsets for that to happen, since it would have to come in a regional championship game.
An NCAA tournament game played in Nevada or Wyoming
They are the only two states to produce a national champion, but never host a tournament game.
A team seeded lower than No. 11 in the Final Four
Which leaves 1986 LSU, 2006 George Mason and 2011 VCU as the lowest ever to make it. Missouri of 2002 is the only No. 12 to get to a regional championship game.
A team seeded No. 9 or lower in the national championship game
No. 8 Villanova in 1985 was the lowest, and look how well that turned out.
All three Final Four games – not counting the late, great third-place contest – go into overtime
Special mention, however, to the marathon men of North Carolina in 1957. The Tar Heels beat Michigan State 74-70 in three overtimes in the semifinals, then outlasted Kansas 54-53 in three overtimes the next night in the championship game. They had to be on fumes, but they still used only seven players in the title game. And this was eons before four TV timeouts each half.
A freshman scores 35 or more points in a Final Four game
That makes the 34 by DePaul’s Mark Aguirre against Penn in the 1979 third place game the record.
Schools from Maine or Alaska in the NCAA tournament
They’re the only stars on the flag to be March-less. California and Texas, on the other hand, have each had 23 schools make it.
A player makes 10 or more field goals in a Final Four game without missing a shot
So the gold standard for accuracy is UCLA’s Bill Walton in the 1973 national championship game against Memphis. He put up 22 shots, missed one. Which ain’t bad.
A triple-double in the Final Four since assists became an official statistic in 1984
But if we’re talking unofficial, looking through old box scores, there have only been five – and Oscar Robertson owns three of them. The most recent was Magic Johnson in 1979.
A No. 5 seed wins the national championship
What witch placed the curse on the No. 5 spot? In 40 years of seeding, only six No. 5 teams have even advanced to the Final Four. And No. 5 teams routinely suffer heavy upset losses against No. 12 opponents in the first round.
An Elite Eight without a single No. 1 seed
But there have been three Final Fours without any No. 1 seeds, the most recent in 2011.
A team earns an NCAA tournament bid for 30 consecutive years
But this will be 29 for Kansas, so check back next March.
Nebraska wins an NCAA tournament game
The Cornhuskers are the only program in the six top leagues – ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12 and SEC – without a single tournament victory in 79 years. This March doesn’t look good, either.
A team enters the tournament with a .500 record, and then wins a game
The .500 teams are 0-9. Curious thing, though. Nine teams that came into the tournament with a losing record won a game.
A guy hits three game-winning buzzer-beaters in the same tournament
Sounds impossible, but then again, George Mason’s Ian Boyd just did it in eight days – 3-pointer against St. Joseph’s, layup against UMass, tip-in against VCU.
Xavier as a No. 1 seed
Forty-eight different schools have been made a No. 1 – including names such as Saint Joseph’s, Massachusetts and Indiana State. North Carolina has been there 16 times. But never the Musketeers. That might be about to change.
Notre Dame wins a Final Four game
In 36 tournament appearances, the Irish have been in a single Final Four – 1978. They didn’t even get there the year Austin Carr averaged 52.7 points; a tournament record from 1970 that has never been challenged. Notre Dame lost to Kentucky 109-99 in the Mideast Regional.
A school with the main team color of yellow plays a team with the main color of brown
So no, Brown has never gone against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
A national championship game between two teams from the same state besides Ohio
Cincinnati and Ohio State both made it two years in a row: 1961-62. It hasn’t happened since.
A coach with a beard wins the national championship
Seton Hall’s P.J. Carlesimo came within, uh, a hair in 1989, losing to Michigan by one point in the overtime title game.
A coach takes six different schools to the tournament
Tubby Smith will be the first, if he can ever get Memphis there.
BYU in the Final Four
The Cougars have had more NCAA tournament appearances – 29 – than any other school without making it to the Final Four. Xavier is not far behind at 27.
The nation’s leading scorer plays in the Final Four, since the introduction of the 3-point shot in 1987
Since 1960 and Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson for that matter. And while we’re at it, the player with the top career average in history – LSU’s Pete Maravich at 44.2 – led the nation in scoring three consecutive seasons, but never played in a single NCAA tournament game.
A man who started in the national championship game as a player later wins it as coach
Both Bob Knight and Dean Smith were reserves, and neither scored.
A championship title game appearance by Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, Nebraska or Miami
Wrong-shaped ball. Together, they’ve won 37 football national championships.
A man coaches a national champion before the age of 30
Indiana’s Branch McCracken is the youngest to ever do it, at 31.
A man coaches a national champion past the age of 70
That’s your cue, Coach K.