3 numerical fun facts about the ncaa tournament

There’s a wide range of curiosities, from the 1948 team that played three bowls in one month to TCU’s magic shirts to the spreadsheet-packing 2001 GMAC Bowl to the Sun Bowl’s ever-howling desert allure.

This is intended to be a living document, updated each year with new fun facts.

If you believe I’ve failed to choose the right Weirdest Game for any of these, please note it in the comments. Perhaps I’ll swap!

(Also included: title games from non-FBS levels. And I’m referring to bowl years according to seasons, not according to kickoff dates. As in, the Rose Bowl played in 2020 is part of the 2019 season, making it 2019’s Rose Bowl.)

December 20

  • Reigning champ: Buffalo 31, Charlotte 9
  • All-time champ: Six teams tied at one win each

Weirdest game: In 2014, Central Michigan scored 34 unanswered in a Caribbean stadium built by China, nearly coming back to defeat WKU in a game sponsored by Popeyes Chicken — which had zero locations on the island — but CMU missed a two-point try after a four-lateral Hail Mary TD. The QBs combined to throw for 12 touchdowns and 971 yards, each the most of any bowl ever.

The only way this would be weirder: if the game had been sponsored by an Illinois industrial park named after elk, as it is now.

Frisco Bowl

  • Reigning champ: Kent State 51, Utah State 41
  • All-time champ: Six teams tied at one win each

Weirdest game: Let’s count this game’s Miami Beach Bowl lineage. You recall the 2014 brawl at the Marlins’ stadium between two teams coached by guys who’d become ACC state rivals, yes?

THE STAGG BOWL, aka the Division III championship

  • Reigning champ: North Central 41, UW-Whitewater 14
  • All-time champ: Mount Union, 13 wins

Weirdest game: Until 1973, DII had East and West title games, the latter named after Chicago Maroons legend Amos Alonzo Stagg. 1971 Samford (from the Western state of Alabama) won the West edition (played in the Western state of Alabama), then vacated due to NCAA stuff.

However, the Bulldogs claim the ‘71 Stagg Bowl title in media guides, the school hall of fame, and elsewhere, and since nobody remembers there used to be a second DII title game, this means claiming the NCAA’s second-highest official championship despite the NCAA telling them not to do so. Good for Samford!

3 Numerical Fun Facts About the NCAA Tournament

December 21

  • Reigning champ: North Carolina A&T 64, Alcorn State 44
  • All-time champ: North Carolina A&T, four wins

Weirdest game: A game called THE CELEBRATION BOWL was kinda decided by A CELEBRATION PENALTY. NC Central doing this set up a difficult extra point, and the blocked kick gave Grambling the 2016 HBCU title:

#BannerSocietyNewMexicoBowl … ha ha just kidding … unless?

  • Reigning champ: San Diego State 48, Central Michigan 11
  • All-time champ: Arizona and Utah State, with perfect 2-0 records each

Weirdest game: Going with 2019 because of its October sponsor: some sort of non-company that didn’t make it to November before being dropped by ESPN. Our offer to pay this bowl $0, yet provide our name as its sponsor anyway, stands.

Cure Bowl

  • Reigning champ: Liberty 23, Georgia Southern 16
  • All-time champ: Five teams tied at one win each

Weirdest game: We don’t pick on the Cure Bowl, an event actually held for a good cause.

But note 2015

50-Plus Fun Facts About March Madness

Forty years ago, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, right, and Larry Bird played in the highest rated “March… [+] Madness” game, helping to popularize the 80-year old tournament. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

The annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament (a.k.a. “March Madness”) is upon us. Over the next three long weekends, roughly 100 million people will tune in to watch the 67-game, 68-team tournament played across 14 cities.

“March Madness” starts with the “First Four” play-in games from Dayton, Ohio on March 19-20 airing on TruTV.

The tournament concludes with the “Final Four” on April 6, and the championship game on April 8, both from Minneapolis and airing on CBS.

To celebrate one of the most popular sporting events, here are some facts to talk about when watching the games.

Office Pools

  • An American Gaming Association survey projected $10.4 billion will be wagered on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, including office pools.
  • Last year, Nielsen estimated that 73 million persons 18+ filled out a total of 170 million brackets (both online and on paper).
  • There is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance that someone could correctly pick the winner of every game in the 64-team NCAA tournament.
  • Challenger, Gray and Christmas, estimates every hour spent on games can cost employers $2.1 billion for a total of $13.3 billion over the length of the tournament. WalletHub estimates 56% of millennials will be willing to miss a work deadline because of “March Madness.”
  • 81% of offices say they have no policy for pools. 89% say office pools build better camaraderie with workers.


  • The first tournament was 80 years ago (in 1939) with eight teams (won by Oregon). In 1951, the field doubled to 16, and then kept growing. In 1975, the field numbered 32 teams. In 1985, it increased to 64-teams. In 2011, the current 68-team format was adopted.
  • Since the NCAA tournament was expanded to 64 teams, #1 seeds have a won-loss record of 454-114, a winning percentage of .798.
  • Since seeding began in 1979, North Carolina has been seeded first in a region 17 times, more than any other school. Followed by Kansas and Duke with 14 #1 seeds each, Kentucky has had 12. North Carolina has also played in 20 “Final Fours,” more than any other school.
  • In 2018, Maryland-Baltimore County became the first #16 seed to defeat a #1 seeded school (Virginia) in the opening round. Top seeds now have a won-loss record of 135-1 versus #16 seeds.
  • All four #1 seeds have advanced to the “Final Four” only once. It happened in 2008 when Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina and UCLA qualified. Kansas won the tournament
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The Ultimate March Madness Betting Strategy Guide

For sports bettors, nothing beats March Madness. Sometimes the Super Bowl is boring or lopsided, but the NCAA Tournament never disappoints. From volume to value with tons of ways to bet, there is something for everyone when it comes to college hoops in the spring.

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, below is all you need to know to establish a successful March Madness betting strategy.

March Madness Betting

Like any other sporting event, you can bet on the NCAA Tournament in conventional ways. However, the nature of a single-elimination tournament with 32 games taking place the first Thursday to Sunday creates all sorts of other wagering options too. From filling out a bracket to riding out a Cinderella story, there are lots of ways you can get action.

Betting Menu

You can bet each NCAA Tournament game against the spread, or play over/under on the total. There are standard moneylines available, plus halftime lines, and in-game wagering. Additionally, there is a laundry list of props and futures including many different types of bracket games, plus parlays and teasers.

Single Game Bets

When it comes to individual NCAA Tournament games, you can bet against the point spread before a contest begins or in-game. The same goes for totals.

Moneylines are available for those looking to make a score on an upset or lay some extra cash on a favorite that is sure to get through.

What might be more fun are props like who the leading scorer in an individual game will be or whether a star will be able to exceed a certain number of points.

Insider Betting Options

Two things make March Madness really special. The vast number of games and the one-and-done format.

Because of the setup, there is constant action and opportunity. Big upsets are always lurking and take place daily, if not earlier in the tournament.

The March Madness bracket allows for a lot of interesting betting options.

For instance, a future wager on who will lead the NCAA Tournament in scoring goes far beyond determining the best player in the competition, or the best team, but instead combines the two.

Furthermore, the best team might have a difficult draw or be matched up against defensive-minded clubs that will create lower scoring games. Matchups often play a big role.

The most traditional way to bet on the NCAA Tournament champion is to fill out a bracket. Scoring systems vary, but the idea is to predict who will win each game before the tournament tips off. Filling out a bracket can be as simple as picking favorite teams or mascots, to being really analytical.

The Math Dude Quick and Dirty Tips to Make Math Easier

What’s the point of learning math? Why is it so important that kids are exposed to mathematical thinking? And what do parents and teachers need to know about learning real math? Keep on listening to find out! Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2mINl8z

Learn how to use absolute values to find distances between numbers and places. Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2lPuJQ7

What does it really mean for a satellite to orbit the Earth? What’s the math behind it? And what’s the math behind the rockets that get those satellites into orbit? Keep on listening to find out! Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2l9sIAz

How many degrees are in the interior angles of a pentagon? Or a hexagon? An octagon? Or any polygon? Keep on listening to The Math Dude to learn how to solve this polygon puzzle! Visit the website: http://bit.ly/1IF5Uu1

How large was the crowd at the recent U.S. presidential inauguration? Or the inauguration 8 years ago? Or at last Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington D.C.? Keep on listening to find out how crowd sizes are estimated. Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2kAq43R

Would you rather get a 33% bigger coffee for no extra charge or pay 33% less for the regular size? Do you know how to avoid being tricked into buying more than you need? Keep on listening to The Math Dude to learn about the numbers behind savvy shopping. Read the transcript: http://bit.ly/1FiHHNz

How can you measure time without using a stopwatch? You could use the movement of the Sun across the sky, you could watch a pendulum swing, or you could burn some very special string. Keep on listening to find out how it works! Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/1E8ZcuF

How do you quickly calculate 25% of a number? Or 33% of a number? Or 50%? And how can you quickly calculate percentage increases? Keep on listening to learn the answers to these frequently asked questions about percentages. Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2i46GPA

Do “word problems” make you cower in fear? Do you ever find yourself stuck on math problems before you even get started? If so, keep on listening because Math Dude's simple 5-step method for solving math problems can help! Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2hZORNn

How many gifts should one's true love be given on each of the 12 Days of Christmas? If you stick to the recommendations from the classic song, the answer can be calculated using a bit of clever math. Keep on listening to find out how. Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2hDDkm7

How long does Santa have to hang out when he's dropping presents off at your house? And how fast do his reindeer fly? Keep on listening to find out about the incredible math behind Santa's magical night! Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2iEKwAa

Are we alone in the universe? If so, why? If not, where is everybody? Thankfully, math can help us with these astronomically profound questions. Keep on listening to learn all about the probability of extraterrestrial life. Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2isqx83

Learn a quick and dirty tip to help you calculate pesky percentages in your head. Read the full transcript here: http://bit.ly/2h6A1rU SPONSOR: Try GotoMeeting with HDFaces Today Free for 30 Days!

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The best player in college basketball history at every jersey number

Oct 23, 2019

Thanks to the NCAA rule book, players have only 37 options when it comes to choosing a jersey number. Any single-digit rendering or double-digit combination of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 is acceptable. Conversely, 6, 7, 8 and 9 are prohibited.

This was not always the case. Bill Russell, for example, famously wore No. 6 for San Francisco six-plus decades ago while winning back-to-back national titles. (Scroll to the bottom.

) But by the late 1950s, the 0-through-5 rule already held sway from coast to coast, as revealed by the team photo for North Carolina's 1957 national championship team.

The rule was instituted to simplify hand signaling by officials to the scorer's table when a player is whistled for a foul.

With such a small population of permissible numbers, great players have, inevitably, sported the same exact look on their jerseys as many other great players. Still, some numbers in particular remain way more popular than others.

  • Here are the best college basketball players to ever wear each of the NCAA's 37 allowed jersey numbers (plus a look at a few that are no longer eligible).
  • Jump to:
    00 | 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 20
    | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | Other
  • 00. Tony Delk, Kentucky (1992-96)

See also: Cliff Robinson, Connecticut (1986-89); Eric Montross (North Carolina, 1990-94); Brendan Haywood (North Carolina, 1997-2001); Michael Gbinije (Syracuse, 2014-16).

A first-team All-American and the leading scorer on the 1996 UK squad known as The Untouchables, Delk won most outstanding player honors at the NCAA tournament and led his 34-2 team to a national title. Nevertheless, No. 00 remains, somewhat surprisingly, a rather underutilized jersey option.


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Mid-major is a term used in American NCAA Division I college sports, especially men's basketball, to refer to athletic conferences that are not among the so-called “Power Five conferences” (the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC). These conferences are sometimes referred to as “high majors” by comparison. The term “mid-major” was coined in 1977 by Jack Kvancz, head coach of Catholic University's men's basketball team.[1] Such a distinction is not officially acknowledged by the NCAA, nor does the NCAA use the terms “major” and “mid-major” to differentiate between Division I athletic conferences. It is considered offensive and derogatory by some fans and schools.[2][3]


Main article: Group of Five conferences

Because of the development of the now-defunct Bowl Championship Series in 1998, and the lack of a playoff format for the Football Bowl Subdivision prior to the College Football Playoff, the demarcation line between major and mid-major conferences was much clearer in college football than in other sports. The six conferences of the BCS each had guaranteed appearances in one of the four major bowl games (Rose Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl), whereas mid-majors — the teams that were not in one of those six leagues — relied on an at-large bid or a high ranking to qualify for a major bowl. (The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, an independent, was an exception.) It was rare for any mid-major program to receive one of two at-large bids (or only one, if Notre Dame qualified) to one of the four major bowls, even if such a program completed a perfect season. The establishment of the BCS National Championship Game opened two additional at-large berths and mandated invites for mid-major schools above a certain ranking, which led to an increase in mid-major appearances in the four major bowls. Then conference realignment brought about the split of the Big East football conference. Schools that did not join a major conference from the Big East renamed it the American Athletic Conference, while several non-football schools left and founded a new conference, purchasing the name “Big East” from the newly renamed American. With the advent of the College Football Playoff in 2014, the non-Power Five FBS conferences are usually referred to as “Group of Five” conferences rather than mid-majors. No mid-major ever qualified for the BCS title game.

Only one mid-major team has won a National Championship: Brigham Young University's Cougars, then in the Western Athletic Conference, won the 1984 championship on the strength of its perfect record and a win in the 1984 Holiday Bowl.

BYU largely won the championship by default, since no other team had held an undefeated record, and there were still lingering doubts about the team deserving the honor because it was in a lesser conference.

Since the establishment of the Bowl Alliance (and its successors the Bowl Championship Series and College Football Playoff), no mid-major team has ever been selected for the championship game or tournament.

Currently, the Group of Five football conferences are the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, and the Sun Belt Conference. Several conferences that no longer sponsor football were considered mid-majors; two that existed in the BCS era were the Big West Conference and the Western Athletic Conference.

Mid-major schools have compiled a record of 8–4 in the major bowl games since the 2004 football season. Since 2004, only the 2005 and 2011 seasons did not see a mid-major team in one of the major bowl games.

The 2010 Fiesta Bowl featured two unbeaten mid-majors (Boise State and TCU); this is the only time two mid-majors have qualified for top-tier bowls. Prior to 2012, each of these teams entered its bowl undefeated, until Northern Illinois qualified following the 2012 season.

UCF qualified for the January 2014 Fiesta Bowl (following the 2013 season), in the final year of the BCS, because the American Athletic Conference retained the Big East's automatic slot in the BCS.

The current arrangement of the New Year's Six bowl games mandates that the highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion be awarded a New Year's Six bowl berth. This has been most recently invoked for the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, which featured UCF, then one of four remaining unbeaten FBS teams in the 2018 season.

The previous season saw a controversy that also involved UCF, which went on to win the 2018 Peach Bowl and end the season as the only undefeated FBS team. The Knights were denied a bid in the College Football Playoff in favor of four teams which had all lost one game (two of whom, Georgia and Alabama, had lost to the same Auburn team that UCF had defeated in the Peach Bowl).[4]

Date played
Winning team
Losing team
Bowl Game
January 1, 2005 #5 Utah 35 #19 Pittsburgh 7 2005 Fiesta Bowl
January 1, 2007 #9 Boise State 43 #7 Oklahoma 42 (OT) 2007 Fiesta Bowl
January 1, 2008 #5 Georgia 41 #10 Hawaiʻi 10 2008 Sugar Bowl
January 2, 2009 #6 Utah 31 #4 Alabama 17 2009 Sugar Bowl
January 4, 2010 #6 Boise State 17 #3 TCU 10 2010 Fiesta Bowl
January 1, 2011 #3 TCU 21 #4 Wisconsin 19 2011 Rose Bowl
January 1, 2013 #13 Florida State 31 #16 Northern Illinois 10 2013 Orange Bowl
January 1, 2014 #15 UCF 52 #6 Baylor 42 2014 Fiesta Bowl (January)
December 31, 2014 #20 Boise State 38 #10 Arizona 30 2014 Fiesta Bowl (December)
December 31, 2015 #18 Houston 38 #9 Florida State 24 2015 Peach Bowl
January 2, 2017 #8 Wisconsin 24 #12 Western Michigan 16 2017 Cotton Bowl Classic
January 1, 2018 #12 UCF 34 #7 Auburn 27 2018 Peach Bowl
January 1, 2019 #11 LSU 40 #7 UCF 32 2019 Fiesta Bowl
December 28, 2019 #13 Penn State 53 #15 Memphis 39 2019 Cotton Bowl Classic

The American Athletic Conference and Mountain West Conference have so far been the most successful of the Group of Five at placing their champions in major bowls, each doing so five times. However, four of the MW's appearances were in the BCS era, when the conference now operating as The American was known as the Big East and was a primary BCS partner.

The Western Athletic Conference, which no longer sponsors football, has done so three times; both schools which went to major bowls as WAC champions now play football in the MW. The Mid-American Conference has done so once in the BCS era and once in the CFP era.

Conference USA and the Sun Belt Conference have never qualified a champion for a BCS or New Year's Six bowl.

Two mid-major programs have qualified for three major bowl games: Boise State, which did so twice while in the WAC and once in the Mountain West; and UCF, which has made all of its appearances while in The American. TCU and Utah each did it twice; both are now members of “Power Five conferences”: TCU is now in the Big 12 and qualified for the 2014 Peach Bowl while there, whereas Utah is currently in the Pac-12.

The American is widely considered the best football conference that is not in the Power 5.

Since its reorganization and split from the Big East Conference in 2013 (and its corresponding expulsion from “BCS conference” status), they have sent three teams to New Year's Six bowl games, Houston in 2015, UCF in 2013, 2017, and 2018, and Memphis in 2019.

These teams have gone 3–1 in the games played to date. USF, UCF, Houston, Navy, Cincinnati, SMU, and Memphis, all American Conference teams, are very successful programs in FBS play.

In 2017, UCF was the first team from The American to go undefeated; its schedule included two wins against Memphis (whose only two regular season losses came to UCF and was otherwise undefeated) and a win against USF (which had only one other loss besides UCF), and the team won its bowl game against #7 Auburn, a team which had beaten both CFP championship game teams (Alabama and Georgia) that year. The Knights also completed an unbeaten regular season in 2018, but lost to LSU in their bowl game after having lost McKenzie Milton, the quarterback who had led them in both 2017 and 2018, to a catastrophic knee injury in their final regularly scheduled game.

The bowl game to host the most mid-major conference champions is the Fiesta Bowl, which has hosted at least one such team six times, with the 2010 edition (2009 season) involving two mid-majors.

The Sugar Bowl has done it twice.

The Rose Bowl Game and Orange Bowl each did so once under the Bowl Championship Series, while the Peach Bowl did so once under the “New Year's Six” and the Cotton Bowl in January 2017.[5]


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