Head to Head look at 8 Games Ahead

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Down to 16 teams – 8 games over the next few days to whittle it down to the elite 8.  Here’s a look at the history of the 8 matchups.

  1. Loyola-Chicago v. Nevada. The two teams have never met.
  2. Kansas v. Kentucky. Kansas remarkably has never beaten Kentucky in 7 tries.  The two teams last met in the Second Round in 2014 with Kentucky winning 56-49.
  3. Florida State v. Gonzago.  Florida State is 0-1 against the Zags.  The last time the teams played was in the First Round of the 2010 tournament with the Zags winning 67-60.
  4. Michigan v. Texas A&M. The teams last met 56 years ago in a game the Wolverines won 82-79.
  5. Villanova v. West Virginia. Villanova is 22-20 against the Mountaineers. They last met in 2011 with West Virginia winning 83-69.
  6. Texas Tech v. Purdue. The teams have only met twice with the Boilermakers winning both contests. They last met in 1988 with Purdue winning 63-54.
  7. Kansas v. Clemson. Oddly, the two teams have never met.
  8. Syracuse v. Duke. The two teams have met 11 times with Duke winning 6 of the meetings. They last met in February with Duke winning in convincing fashion 60-44.

Odd Facts and Weird Final Four Matchups

From the Sports Desk of Ribbie’s Weblog, here are some fascinating and theoretically possible matchups for the Final Four as of 8:26 pm March 19, 2015, after half of the first day second round games, plus some odd and interesting facts.  Were you aware that an Anteater and a Badger could face off in the Finals? Stranger things have, well, never happened!

  • 3 Strange animals and a Lumberjack:  UC Irvine Anteaters (East), Wisconsin Badgers (West), Cincinnati Bearcats (Midwest), Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (South)
  • 4 Birds: Eastern Washington Eagles (South), Kansas Jayhawks (Midwest), Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (West), Louisville Cardinals (East)
  • 3 Bulldogs and a Terrier:  Butler (MW), Gonzaga (South), Georgia (East), Wofford (West)
  • Historical Reenactment:  Michigan State Spartans (East), Valparaiso Crusaders (MW), Ok State Cowboys (West) and Robert Morris Colonials (South)
  • All Wildcat Final: Arizona (W), Davidson (South), Kentucky (MW), Villanova (East)
  • Strange Fact:  Indiana has 5 teams in the tournament and all are in the Midwest Bracket:  Purdue, Butler, Valparaiso, Indiana and Notre Dame.
  • Another oddity:  Texas started with 5 teams and is down to just one, Stephen F. Austin.  SMU, Baylor, Texas and Texas Southern all lost on Thursday, March 19.

2015 NCAA First Four – Bird of Prey vs. Founding Father

Robert Morris

JS Bach

The Robert Morris Colonials play the North Florida Ospreys in one of the first games of the NCAA tournament in what is known as the First Four Round. It’s a play-in essentially to the Second Round, with the winner of the game playing the top seeded team from the South, Duke. So who wins? A Colonial versus an Osprey.  A formidable bird of prey should have no problem with an colonial unless said colonial is armed with a hunting rifle.  But the colonial in question was not just any colonial, he, Robert Morris to be precise was a founding father and U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania who signed the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.  A man who bears a striking resemblance to J.S. Bach, Morris was said to have largely financed the American Revolution but ironically landed in debtors prison some years later. Given the outcome, I would have thought he’d have gotten a more favorable return on his investment.

Morris lived in Philadelphia just a stone’s throw from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, a wildlife preserve for birds of prey in Kempton, PA.   As a prolific dealer in land, and a Naval proponent, I have to believe that Mr. Morris had enormous respect for wildlife and birds.  As such, I do not believe he would have any animosity toward the Osprey.  Nor do I believe the Osprey have any particular qualms with Robert Morris or other humans as these particular hawk species only attack and eat fish.

What this all means in terms of the game is that both Robert Morris and North Florida will play defensively and try to control the pace, but not bloody the opponent.  It will be a low scoring game – say 56-55, North Florida winning in a squeaker, or squawker as it were or will be.

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.