With $1 billion potentially on the line, filling out an NCAA tournament bracket takes on more meaning this year than ever before. And thus you will be looking up obscure numbers such as RPI and BPI and offensive and defensive efficiency as you try to fill out that perfect bracket.
Well, numbers are a waste of time. What you need is cold, hard facts. And at Rumors and Rants we are dedicated to delivering you the one vital fact about each school in this year’s tournament that could ultimately be used as the tiebreaking choice as you make your picks. If it helps you get Warren Buffett’s billion, just remember to cut us a little seven-figure piece of that pie for the advice.
1. Florida: In the 1940s, the Gators were coached by a man named Spurgeon Cherry.
2. Kansas: In 2011, the town of Osceola, Missouri Board of Aldermen passed a resolution requesting KU no longer use “Jayhawk” as its mascot since the town was the site of the 1861 Sacking of Osceola by the Jayhawkers. Didn’t work.
3. Syracuse: The Orange once played a basketball game on the same day 25 Syracuse students were killed when Pan-Am Flight 103 was blown up by terrorists over Scotland.
4. UCLA: The school was originally created as a southern offshoot of San Jose State. And then Los Angeles got a lot bigger than San Jose.
5. Virginia Commonwealth: VCU has a campus in Qatar.
6. Ohio State: Buckeyes coach Thad Matta is an alum of Hoopeston (Ill.) High School, whose mascot is the Cornjerkers.
7. New Mexico: The Lobos first coach was Roy “Old Iron Head” Johnson, a veteran of World War I AND World War II. My guess is people didn’t f*ck with “Old Iron Head” Johnson.
8. Colorado: The campus is located in Boulder, which was chosen as the site in 1876 over Canon City. Canon City got the state prison as a consolation prize.
9. Pittsburgh: Even if the Panthers make a run to the Final Four, it won’t top this.
10. Stanford: The school is named after Leland Stanford, Jr., who died of typhoid at age 15 in 1884.
11. Dayton: Computer freezing? Dayton grad David Bradley helped you out by inventing the “Control-Alt-Delete” keyboard function.
12. Stephen F. Austin: The Lumberjacks mascot is an actual mulleted human being dressed as a lumberjack.
13. Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane wisely ditched the less intimidating Presbyterians nickname in 1922. And there’s no s. That’s HURRICANE.
14. Western Michigan: WMU’s first president was Dwight B. Waldo, who had a pet parrot named Jimmy Boy.
15. Eastern Kentucky: Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man, played football at Eastern Kentucky after transferring from Indiana.
16a. Albany: The school mascot was the Pedagogues until the 1960s, when the less dictionary-necessary Great Danes was chosen in a student contest.
16b. Mount Saint Mary’s: The Mountaineers were coached by Jim Phelan from 1954-2003. Phog Allen is the only college basketball coach to have coached more seasons.
1. Virginia: The No. 1 Cavaliers lost to tiny Chaminade University in 1982, considered the greatest upset in college basketball history. Until some No. 1 seed finally loses to a 16-seed in the NCAA tournament. Ahem.
2. Villanova: The school is named for Saint Thomas of Villanova, a 16th-century Spanish archbishop who was known for caring for the poor and disdaining bullfighting.
3. Iowa State: George Washington Carver was the first African-American student at Iowa State.
4. Michigan State: Tom Izzo has won fewer national championships (one) than Billy Donovan (two), but is always considered a better coach.
5. Cincinnati: William Howard Taft, our only president to also serve as a Supreme Court justice and get stuck in a bathtub, is a Cincinnati Law School graduate.
6. North Carolina: The argyle pattern on the side of UNC’s uniforms was added by fashion designer Alexander Julian in 1992.
7. UConn: The Huskies live mascot is Jonathan XIII, who like his predecessors is named after Jonathan Trumbull, the only Colonial governor who gave King George the finger and joined the rebel cause in the Revolution.
8. Memphis: Tigers coach Josh Pastner still uses a flip phone.
9. George Washington: This university is named after the man who appears on the $1 bill.
10. Saint Joseph’s: The St. Joe’s Hawk mascot flaps his arms (wings) for the entire game. He is not permitted to stop flapping. The plus side is the student in the costume is awarded a full scholarship.
11. Providence: The Friars play in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
12. Harvard: A kid from my school bus route grew up to play basketball for the Crimson.
13. Delaware: According to his official bio, Blue Hens mascot YoUDee is descended from Col. George W. YoUDee, who was cited for bravery at the Battle of Trenton in 1780.
14. North Carolina Central: This is the Eagles first appearance in the Big Dance, but they’ve already produced a Hall of Famer — Celtics shooting guard Sam Jones, who won 10 titles in Boston. Good luck catching that, LeBron.
15. UW-Milwaukee: Actor Willem Dafoe studied theater at Wisconsin-Milwaukee before realizing he was good and left school to act full-time.
16. Coastal Carolina: What’s a Chanticleer? It is a “proud, witty rooster” featured in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which you suddenly recall reading in AP English.
1. Arizona: “Revenge of the Nerds” was filmed on the Arizona campus, which was recast as Adams College.
2. Wisconsin: “Back to School” was filmed on the Wisconsin campus, which was recast as Great Lakes University.
3. Creighton: The university’s namesake, Edward Creighton, made his fortune in the telegraph industry.
4. San Diego State: The school as an “active” Greek life. There was a frat boy riot that required 34 police officers to break things up in the early ’90s, and five fraternities were suspended in 2008 as the result of a major drug bust involving serious amounts of cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, magic mushrooms and hash.
5. Oklahoma: What’s a Sooner? Well, back in the day we took a bunch of land from the Indians and were like “Hey, you guys can have Oklahoma. Really. You should go there, because this gun is pointed at your head.” Then we decided “Hell, Oklahoma isn’t so bad. Let’s whiten the place up.” And so on March 2, 1889, government land in Oklahoma was officially declared open for settlement. Only a bunch of people showed up before March 2 to stake their claim. These cheaters were known as Sooners, and apparently became the admirable type of people you’d name your college mascot for.
6. Baylor: Baylor’s president is Kenneth Starr, without whom we’d have never known about what Bill Clinton left on Monica Lewinsky’s dress.
7. Oregon: “Animal House” was filmed on the Oregon campus, which was recast as Faber College.
8. Gonzaga: Before John Stockton and then its modern rise to mid-major prominence, Gonzaga was best known as the alma mater of Bing Crosby. We’re dreaming of a March Madness…
9. Oklahoma State: OSU is one of five U.S. “sun-grant” universities, designated to research and develop sustainable energy alternatives.
10. Brigham Young: BYU is the squarest university in the nation — having sex will get you kicked off the team — but Brigham Young was the original baller, fathering 57 children and marrying 55 wives.
11. Nebraska: Head coach Tim Miles sends out a Tweet at halftime of every game.
12. North Dakota State: The Bison are a sporting power, having won the last three Division I-AA (FCS) football national titles.
13. New Mexico State: The university is home to The Chile Pepper Institute, which is dedicated to “research, education and archiving information related to chile peppers.”
14. Louisiana-Lafayette: An enormous debate rages in Louisiana over what this school is called. The school itself wants to go by “Louisiana.” Every other college in the state wants it to go by “Louisiana-Lafayette.” They’ve even taken the matter to the state legislature, because this is how enormous petty arguments become in Louisiana. (In other words, if you talk bad about someone’s gumbo, prepare to die).
15. American: During World War I, American University’s campus was the site of the U.S. chemical weapons program. Mustard gas and mortar shells were still being removed by the Army Corps of Engineers as recently as 2007.
16. Weber State: People recognize this school as the alma mater of Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. But never forget Harold “The Show” Arceneaux.
1. Wichita State: The first Pizza Hut was opened on the Wichita State campus, yet their arena is not called The Pizza Hut.
2. Michigan: Everyone who attends this school thinks they’re hot shit.
3. Duke: See: Michigan.
4. Louisville: A Louisville basketball schedule can be seen on the wall in one of the opening scenes of “Stripes.”
5. Saint Louis: What’s a Billiken? Well, it was the Cabbage Patch Doll and Beanie Baby of its day, which was around 1909 or so. And it just so happened that SLU football coach John Bender resembled a Billken doll. If only Mark Mangino had been coaching back in those days…
6. UMass: What’s a Minuteman? Nobody you’d want to date if you’re a lady.
7. Texas: The school is home to the Pickle Research Campus, which is not dedicated to “research, education and archiving information related to pickles.” It’s named after former U.S. Congressman J.J. Pickle.
8. Kentucky: The Wildcats are the first 40-0 basketball team to ever suffer 10 regular-season losses.
9. Kansas State: “Undercover Brother” star Eddie Griffin attended K-State.
10. Arizona State: Arizona State has an acceptance rate of 87%, which means if you can’t get in here — hey, get your finger out of that light socket!
11a. Iowa: Sam Williams is the last Hawkeye to be named Big Ten Player of the Year — in 1968.
11b. Tennessee: Surprise! The Volunteers ranked eighth in the NCAA in men’s basketball attendance last season.
12a. North Carolina State: “One Man Wolfpack” Zach Galifianakis attended NC State. So did new-age musician John Tesh, who was expelled (!) his junior year.
13. Manhattan: What’s a Jasper? He’s a guy. Brother Jasper, to be specific — the priest who introduced the sport of baseball to Manhattan College in the 1880s and is officially credited by the Baseball Hall of Fame with inventing the Seventh-Inning Stretch.
14. Mercer: Wondering how you could possibly root for Duke against a massive underdog? Nancy Grace is a Mercer graduate.
15. Wofford: Wendi Nix, who is secretly the double whammy of best-looking/most talented female anchor on ESPN, is a Wofford graduate.
16a. Cal Poly: Weird Al Yankovic earned a degree in architecture from Cal Poly.
16b. Texas Southern: Former Indiana coach Mike Davis led the Tigers to the NCAA tournament. Indiana failed to make the NIT.
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