13) If you look at the last 13 national champs, those teams went 12-1 against the spread in their first round tournament game. Only exception was Kentucky in 2012, who won 81-66 (-26). UConn won its first round game in OT in 2014, but covered 89-81 (-5).
12) Bobby Hurley coached Buffalo for two years (42-20), then bolted western NY for Arizona State; his Sun Devils have to beat St John’s in Dayton, and if they do, Hurley and Buffalo will be re-united Friday in Tulsa. Buffalo spanked ASU’s rival Arizona by 21 in first round last year.
Since replacing Hurley, Nate Oats is 95-42 in four years at Buffalo, but before the Bulls get to play Arizona State, the Sun Devils still have to beat St John’s.
11) Richard Pitino’s Minnesota Gophers playing Louisville, the school that ran his father out of town two years ago, is classic sidebar material. Rick Pitino won the national title with Louisville six short years ago. Lot of stuff has happened since then.
Rick Pitino is coaching pro ball in Greece now; UCLA, UNLV have jobs open, which lends itself to speculation, but for now Richard’s Gophers vs Louisville is the main event.
10) Tennessee Volunteers are a #2-seed in the South Region, but they can’t be very happy about the prospects of a second round game against Cincinnati………in Columbus, OHIO.
9) Montana-Michigan play in the first round for the second year in a row; I’m thinking that could’ve been avoided.
8) Clemson, NC State and Texas are the highest-rated teams that didn’t get in the NCAA’s; Lipscomb, Furman and NC-Greensboro also have to be pretty disappointed.
7) No team has ever lost its first conference tournament game, and then gone on to win the national championship. Texas Tech, LSU, Purdue, Maryland fall into that category.
6) Virginia Tech’s star PG Justin Robinson missed the last 12 games with a foot injury, but he’ll be back for the NCAA tournament. Hokies play Saint Louis in the first round Friday.
5) If you care about such things, over the last five years, the underdog is 12-8 vs spread in first round 4-13 games. Over last six years, underdogs are 14-10 vs spread in 3-14 games.
4) Last four years, the 11-seed is 7-5 SU in the first round against the 6-seed; the 11-seed was the underdog in all seven of their wins.
3) Over the last 23 years, in the West Region final, the underdog is 17-6 against the spread. During that time, when the #1-seed in the West got to the regional final, they’re 4-8 SU in that regional final.
2) Over the last 16 years, in the Midwest Region final, the underdog is 12-4 against the spread. #1-seeds have fared better in this regional final, going 10-7 SU in their last 17 tries.
1) My pick for the national title? I’ll take Virginia.