Every year (except last year) when I see the field of 68 after watching wall-to-wall college basketball for four days, my brain gets scrambled for a few hours. There is a lot of info to go thru before I post knowledge on the first round games later this week.
For today, here are random, scrambled thoughts/information that crossed my mind at various times today:
13) Gonzaga is the fifth team since 1977 to enter the NCAA tournament unbeaten:
1979— Indiana State, lost in finals
1991— UNLV, lost in semi-finals
2014— Wichita State, lost in 2nd round
2015— Kentucky— lost in semi-finals
12) Over the last 16 years, the overall #1-seed in the country has won three national titles; they also failed to get out of the first weekend four times. 2013 was the last time the overall #1-seed won the national title, when Rick Pitino’s Louisville team won it all.
11) Speaking of which, Iona is the fifth program Rick Pitino has led to the NCAA Tournament; 31 of his assistant coaches have gone on to become head coaches. Iona plays Alabama in the first round, so they probably won’t be around very long, but they had a 51-day pause this season – they didn’t play a single game in January. Just getting here is a big accomplishment.
10) Arkansas hasn’t been to a Sweet 16 since 1996; since then, 96 different schools have had teams get to the Sweet 16. Razorbacks need to get by Colgate, then either Texas Tech/Utah State to get to the Sweet 16 this year.
9) No team has ever won the national title, after losing their first conference tournament game. Purdue/West Virginia are in that boat this season.
8) This is the first time since 1976 that neither Duke/Kentucky is in the tournament; 1976 is also the last time there was an undefeated national champ (Indiana).
7) Unusual baseball situation Sunday nite: Dodgers P Julio Urias struck out three batters in the first inning against the Royals, but he only got two outs in the first inning, because of a passed ball after one of the strikeouts. Dodgers took him out after 29 pitches, but because it is spring training, he got to re-enter the game and pitched the second inning.
Dodgers made couple errors in the first inning that led to Urias’ demise, plus the passed ball; not often a pitcher strikes out three guys but doesn’t finish the first inning.
6) I’m optimistic about a new baseball rule that would require teams to have two infielders on each side of the diamond; eliminating shifts will discourage guys from just trying to jack the ball over the fence all the time. Fewer strikeouts maes the game more fun to watch.
5) Add Tampa Bay to the list of teams (Milwaukee) that drive owners in fantasy baseball crazy; in a 9-inning game Sunday, Rays used nine different pitchers. You never have any idea how they are going handle pitchers on a given day— they took Blake Snell out of a World Series last year when he was dominating the other team- they just think differently than most people.
4) Last repeat champion in college basketball; the 2007 Florida Gators. Virginia is the current defending champ; over half their team was in quarantine Sunday for contact tracing. They hope to travel out to Indianapolis on Friday,
3) The great quarterback Drew Brees retired Sunday; when you retire on the day the brackets come out, that means you don’t want any attention. Brees will be in Canton in five years.
2) Sunday night, I’m flipping channels between the shows analyzing the brackets and some spring baseball, and I see that ESPN2 televises freakin’ cornhole!!!! Do people watch this? Please God in heaven, tell me they don’t bet on it (DraftKings is a sponsor). Yikes.
On a personal note, RIP to former town of Colonie supervisor Fred Field, who passed away this weekend at age 88. Mr Field was an industrial engineer for 30 years, served as town supervisor of my hometown for 18 years— he was a good guy, RIP, sir.
1) As the week goes on, I’ll be posting information on all the basketball games; takes some time to organize the information I have, then get the TV schedule, but eventually it gets done.
This is one of my favorite weeks all year; lets hope everyone stays healthy and the tournament is a fun one. Lord knows we could all use some fun.