2014 Sweet 16 Tournament Geography and Stuff

From the sports desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, here are some more interesting facts about the Sweet 16 teams as they head into action tonight.

  • Number of teams from states that do not border any other states with teams left in the tournament: 2 – Texas, Connecticut
  • # of private universities: 4 – Stanford, Louisville, Dayton and Baylor
  • Games between border states: 1 – Arizona v. San Diego State
  • Games between private universities: 1 – Stanford v. Dayton
  • Game of lowest seeds: Stanford (10) v. Dayton (11)
  • 1 v. 4 games: 3 – VA (1) v. Michigan St. (4); FL (1) v. UCLA (4); AZ (1) v. San Diego St. (4)
  • Number of states with teams in the the Sweet 16 that Kentucky borders: 3 – Tennessee, Ohio (Dayton), VA

I know, BORING, so let the games begin.

Maddening 2014 March Madness Fact and Oddities

March Madness is upon us once again and 32 teams still stand tall, some taller than others. So which teams are left after the first two rounds?  How many conferences? How many states? These and other questions will be answered. To paraphrase some babbling Pink Floyd – I know I am mad, I’ve always been mad, even when I’m not mad, I’m mad…can’t really do anything about it anyway…except compile statistics and odd facts about a basketball tournament.  Read on you crazy hoop heads.

High and Lows:

  • State Highs:  3 – TX: Baylor, Stephen F. Austin, Texas; CA: Stanford, San Diego State, UCLA
  • States Remaining: 23
  • Conference Highs:  4 – ACC: NC, Pitt, VA, Syracuse; Big 12: Iowa St., KS, Baylor, Texas; Pac 12: AZ, UCLA, Stanford, OR
  • Conference Lows: 0 – Conference USA, Mid American, et al.
  • All Conference Final 4: 1: Big 12: Iowa St., Kansas, Baylor, Texas
  • Final Four Madness: Stephen F. Austin (12), Harvard (12), North Dakota St. (12), Mercer (14)

Mascot Breakdown:

  • People – 7: Tennessee Volunteers, SF Austin Lumberjacks, Dayton Flyers, San Diego State Aztecs, NC Tar Heels, Michigan St. Spartans, Virginia Cavaliers
  • Cats – 5:  Pittsburgh Panthers, Memphis Tigers, Arizona Wildcats, Kentucky Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats
  • Birds – 5:  Stanford Cardinal, Louisville Cardinals, Kansas Jayhawks, Creighton Jays, Oregon Ducks
  • Bears – 3: UCLA Bruins, Mercer Bears, Baylor Bears
  • Weird Animals – 2: Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan Wolverines
  • Colors – 2:  Syracuse Orange, Harvard Crimson
  • Bovinae – 2:  Texas Longhorns, North Dakota State Bisons
  • Fruits – 1: Syracuse Orange
  • Grains – 1: Wichita State Shockers (stalk of wheat)
  • Natural Disasters – 1:  Iowa St. Cylcones
  • Doll – 1: Saint Louis Billikens
  • Swamp Dwellers – 1: Florida Gators

Interesting Matchups:

  • All Cat Final Four:  KY Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats, Arizona Wildcats, Pitt Panthers
  • All People Final Four:  Virgina Cavaliers, Tennessee Volunteer, San Diego St. Aztecs, SF Austin Lumberjacks
  • Top Public U Final Four: UCLA, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin
  • Top Academics Final Four: Harvard, Stanford, Wisconsin, Michigan
  • Great Mascot Battle:  Wolverine, Badger, Gator, Tiger

Let the madness continue!

Stuff You Should Know about the Elite 8

  • The only 7 footer left in the tournament is Wichita State’s Ehimen Orukpe.  The shortest player is 5-10 Guard Nolan Hart from Syracuse.
  • Duke has three players 6-10 or taller.  Two are the Plumlee brothers, Mason and Marshall from Warsaw, Indiana.
  • After Cal, and UNC, Michigan is the most selective public university in the field of 64.  At a 14% acceptance rate, Duke is the most selective school of the private universities left in the tournament.
  • Wichita State has the most geographically diverse roster with three international players (Canada (2), Nigeria) and 8 from different States.
  • Two of the tallest players in the tournament are from Senegal – 6-10 Baye Keita of Syracuse and 6-11 Gorgui Dieng from Louisville.
  • Duke is the only team without an international player on its roster.
  • Florida has the most homegrown players with 7.  Duke has just two players from North Carolina.
  • Wichita State averages the fewest points per game:  69; Duke the most: 78

The Artificially Sweet Elite 8 Brought To You By Coke Zero

So it’s down to the Elite 8.  Last year I wrote that the Elite 8 ain’t all that greight, but this year, that ain’t still true.  The Elite 8 could be called the Great 8.  And because the tournament is sponsored by Coke Zero, they technically could be called the artificially Sweet 8.

  • So who’s left?  Louisville, Duke, (As Falls Wichita, so Falls) Wichita State, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Syracuse and Marquette.  So we have a Cardinal, a Blue Devil, a Shocker, a Buckeye, a Wolverine, a Gator, an Orange and a Golden Eagle.  That would be two birds, a fruit, a nut, a grain, a cartoon character, a weasel and a reptile.  If I were a betting man, my “money” would be on the Alligator.  And they may just have the best team in the tournament, the Florida Gators, that is.
  • Florida would have the home court advantage in Atlanta and would be the only team left in the field that has played and won a game in Georgia this season – v. Georgia 64-47.  And Florida has held opponents to exactly 47 points five times all in wins.  Florida has held opponents to under 47 points 7 times.
  • We could have an all bordering states final four:  Louisville (Kentucky), Ohio State, Michigan, and Marquette (Wisconsin).
  • There are some interesting rematches in the Elite 8. Syracuse lost @Marquette earlier in the year 74-71.  In November, Duke beat Louisville @Louisville, 76-71.
  • The 3 and 4 seeds emerged from the South and the East Regions.  Florida (3) v. Michigan (4) and Marquette (3) v. Syracuse (4).
  • All of the teams have been to the Final Four at least once and all except Wichita State have won at least one National Championship.

Elite 8 and other Fun 2013 NCAA March Madness facts

March Madness 2

  • Syracuse has home court advantage in DC over Marquette in their Elite 8 match up on Saturday.  The driving distance between Syracuse and DC is only 375 miles;  from Milwaukee, the distance is 789 miles.  Plus, Syracuse has two players on its roster from nearby MD.
  • One of Syracuse’s 6 losses was to Marquette in February.
  • Versus the common opponent Louisville, Syracuse  is 1-2; Marquette 0-1.
  • As far as mascots go, Otto the Syracuse Orange may be the silliest least imposing mascot in the history of sports.  He’s a youthful orange who sports a Syracuse hat and looks more like a tangelo than an orange. Rumor has it, Otto is the great grandson of the Kool-Aid man.
  • There are five birds including two eagles left in the tournament – the Marquette Golden Eagles and the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. If they win out, they could face off in the final four.
  • The nuts, fruits and grains all made it to the Elite 8.  Ohio State Buckeyes, Syracuse Orange and the Wichita State Shockers (stalk of wheat).
  • 9 teams have scored under 50 points in tournament games.  The lowest score was 34 by Montana in a second round loss to Syracuse.  Syracuse held a number 1 seed Indiana to 50 points. 5th seeded Wisconsin scored only 46 points in a loss to Ole Miss in the 2nd round.  And 6th seeded Memphis scored only 48 points in a third round loss to Michigan State.
  • Two birds will meet in a Sweet 16 match up:  a Cardinal from Louisville and a Duck from Oregon.
  • Two Florida teams will meet in the Sweet 16 – Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.
  • Three states still have two teams left in the tournament:  Michigan:  Michigan State and Michigan; Florida – Florida and Florida Gulf Coast; Kansas – Kansas and Wichita State.
  • It is possible that we could have a two state Final:  Michigan State and Michigan or Kansas and Wichita State.
  • The 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds made it to the Regional Semis in the East – the 3 and 4 seeds, Marquette and Syracuse made it to the Regional Finals.
  • We could have a final four with a 12 seed – Oregon, a 9 seed – Wichita State, a 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast and a 4 seed – Syracuse.  Two Eagles, an Orange and a Duck. That would be a shocker – not likely, but possible.

NCAA Conference Oddities

How about a little conference weirdness:

  • The Big 12 has 10 teams – 4 made it to the tournament – 2 lost in the 2nd round.
  • The Big 10 has 12 teams – half of them made it to the round of 32.
  • The Atlantic 10 has 16 teams.  5 made it to the round of 32.
  • The Great West has only 5 teams; one from New Jersey, none to the tournament.
  • The Big East has 15 teams – 3 made it to the round of 32.
  • Two Big East teams are 1,267 miles apart:  Syracuse and University of South Florida.
  • Two ACC teams are 1,491 miles apart: Boston College and Miami University.
  • The Big South has a North divisiotrn.
  • The SEC has 16 teams.  Only three, Missouri, Ole Miss and Florida made it to the tournament; only two remain; the Rebels and Gators.

NCAA Tournament Teams Mascot Upgrades

So I was thinking that some of the NCAA teams in the tourney have the wrong nickname or mascot.  I mean Memphis Tigers.  There are no tigers in Memphis – maybe some stray cats and a few cool cats, and some fat cats, but no big cats.  I think they should  be the Memphis Ribs.  I have some other suggestions too for Mascot upgrades.  Here’s a sampling:

  • Arizona Wildcats.  No, that’s wrong.  Arizona is a wild place, so let’s call them Gunslingers or Tumbleweeds.  Arizona Tumbleweeds, yes, that’s better.
  • Gonzaga Bulldogs.  That’s just lame.  Gonzaga is in Washington, right.  What comes to mind? Certainly not dogs.  When I think of Washington, I think wine.  So let’s call ’em Vintners, no Winers.  Gonzaga Winers.
  • Wichita State Shockers.  What is a shocker anyway?  Well, it’s a stalk of wheat. A stalk of wheat for a mascot?  That’s ridiculous.  How about Wichita State Linemen, in honor of the men who brought modern communication to the state and the man who performed the great song, Wichita Lineman, who was an Arkansan, not a Kansan…but close enough.
  • I don’t associate Duke with the Blue Devil.  For me, it calls to mind the classic album Duke, by Genesis.  And when I think of North Carolina, a place I’ve never been, I think of Mayberry, Andy Griffith and Otis the town drunk, who was fond of moonshine.  So that’s it, Duke Moonshiners.  And you know, Winers and the Moonshiners could meet in the Final Four; they could.
  • The Michigan teams are totally misrepresented by their mascots. Michigan of Great Lakes fame should be associated with fishing, so why not the Anglers? No, better still, the mighty Sturgeon.  It’s settled, Michigan Sturgeon.  So to continue with the fishing theme, I pronounce Michigan State the Muskies.
  • Indiana Hoosiers.  Well, it’s good, but Granfalloons would be much better.  Indiana Granfalloons, and Kurt Vonnegut  fans, you know exactly what I am talking about.
  • Others – Harvard Elitists, Illinois Carp, (or Crappie – when they play badly), Butler Stewards or Majordomos, Miami Vice (I couldn’t resist), California Dreamers, Creigton Barrels, Oregon Vegans and Colorado State Stoners.

Pitino Has The Edge Over Calipari

And then there were 4.  And not the most surprising 4.  A number 1, 2 2s and a 4.  We’ve got a nifty city state match up in Louisville(4) Kentucky(1) with a compelling coaching subplot between Calipari and Pitino.

Calipari and Pitino coached teams have meet 15 times over the years.  With UMASS, Memphis and Kentucky, Calipari’s record is 7-8 versus Pitino’s Kentucky and Louisville teams.  Coach Cal is 7-4 in regular season games against Pitino, however, he’s 0-4 in post season games.  As the coach of Memphis, Calipari lost to Pitino’s Louisville teams in the Conference USA tournament twice.  And in NCAA play as the coach of UMASS, Coach Cal lost to Pitino coached Kentucky teams in 1992 in the Sweet 16 and in the 1996 Final Four Semifinal game. Their meeting Saturday will be a rematch. Clearly, Calipari has an ax to grind and something to prove.

Can Calipari avenge his post season loses to Pitino? Possibly, but it’s not a slam dunk.  The X factor in my mind will be the mascots – Wildcat and Cardinal.  Normally, a cat gets the better of the bird, but a cardinal is not just any bird.  Related to the jay bird and a member of the crow family, cardinals are mean, menacing birds.  They are loud, relentless and among the most intelligent birds on the planet – ok, I just made that up, but they might be.   I do know this: wildcats do not like to be harassed, they don’t, and will quickly become frustrated, distracted and fatigued by a swooping, heckling bird.  Advantage goes to the Cardinals and the master coach, who like the cardinal, seems to have a knack for getting into his rival’s head in games that count.

Sweet 16 Roster Facts

Ohio State has two players from Cincinnati. Ohio has two players from Columbus. Cincinnati only has two players on their roster from Ohio, both from Cincinnati.  Xavier also only has two players from Ohio, one from Cincinnati.

Both Cincinnati and Louisville have a player from Dakar, Senegal.

Baylor has 6 players from Texas.   North Carolina has 8 players from North Carolina.  Indiana has 9 home grown players, more than any other team. NC State has 3 international players. Kansas has more players from CA (4) than KS (2).

The tallest player is NC State’s 7-1 Jordan Vandenberg.  The shortest player is Florida’s 5-8 Irving Walker.

There are 16 players under 6 feet.  6 teams have no player under 6 feet:  Cincinnati, Marquette, Xavier, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State.  Ohio has two of the shortest players, both 5-9.  North Carolina has two of the tallest players in the tournament: at 6-11 and 7-0.

More Odd Sweet 16 Fun NCAA Fun Facts

Sweet 16 teams come from 10 different states: Texas, Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Indiana and Michigan.  In the 2008 election, McCain/Palin only won three of the 10 states: Texas, Kansas and Kentucky.

There are only two teams located West of the Mississippi: Baylor and Kansas.

7 of the teams made the Sweet 16 in 2011: Kansas, Ohio State, North Carolina, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Florida and Marquette.  4 of the 7 made the elite 8: Kansas, North Carolina, Florida and Kentucky.

According to research compiled by the Journal Sentinel, two conferences account for half of the field: Big Ten – Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin; and the, Big East – Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, Cincinnati.  The last time the Big Ten had 4 teams in the Sweet 16 was in 1999.

The lowest seeded team, Ohio (13) beat Michigan from the Big Ten in the second round. The second lowest seeded team, North Carolina State (11) advanced to the Sweet 16 by beating Georgetown from the Big East.

RPI Ratings of the lowest seeded teams left:

(47) Ohio – 13 seed

(49) NC State – 11 seed

(41) Xavier – 10 seed

(30) Florida – 7 seed

(42) Cincinnati – 6 seed

Jim Boeheim of Syracuse at 67 is the oldest coach in the tournament; 39 year old Buzz Williams of Marquette is the youngest coach, based on data from Stat Sheet.