The NCAA tournament has been running for 75 years, and this year is special in many ways.
In the history of the tournament, only 3 teams won the title after missing the tournament the year previous. 1986 Louisville, 2003 Syracuse, and 2011 UConn will be joined by the winner of Kentucky-UConn tonight as both missed last year.
In the history of the tournament, only 3 teams won the title without a 6-game winning streak during the season. 1981 Indiana, 1983 NC State, and 1997 Arizona could be joined by Kentucky. UK’s longest win streak this season was 5.
In the history of the tournament, only 2 teams won the title after having lost a game by 25 or more points during the season. 1965 UCLA and 1993 North Carolina could be joined by UConn. The Huskies were blown out 81-48 by Louisville this year.
In the history of the tournament, the lowest seed to ever capture the title was a #8 seed. Villanova in 1985. The Wildcats could match them.
Never has a #7 seed won the NCAA tournament. Connecticut would be the first.
The #7-#8 (combined 15) pairing is the lowest ever for the title game.
Kentucky finished off (by seeding) the most difficult path ever to championship Monday night by beating a 9-1-4-2-2 combo. In that they defeated 3 teams that played in 2013 NCAA Final Four, including the champion and runner-up.
UConn’s run to the title game barely takes a back-seat however. They beat a 10-2-3-4-1 combo. In that they defeated the A-10 tournament champs, the Big East regular season champs, the Big 12 tournament champs, the Big 10 tournament champs, and the SEC regular season and tournament champs.
The last 11 champions have finished in the top 20 of Ken Pomroy’s offensive and defensive efficiency rankings. That streak will end tonight.
13 of the last 14 champions were coached by a coach with Final Four experience. Kevin Ollie winning would be an exception to a steady rule.
The only teams to beat UConn in the NCAA tournament since 2009 were Iowa State (1st round) and Michigan State (Final 4). They beat both on the road to the Final Four this year.
The only teams to beat Kentucky since 2009 (when Calipari took over) were Louisville (Final 4), UConn (Final 4), and West Virginia (Elite 8).
UConn beat Florida twice this year. Florida beat Kentucky three times.
Kentucky beat Louisville twice this year. Louisville beat UConn three times.
Never has a team featuring as many as 4 freshmen starters ever won the national title. The Wildcats will start 5 freshmen tonight.
Two powerful programs bent and broke rules to get this far. It’s amazing to see each of them playing tonight, and yet it’s not. March Madness produced some incredible games and results this year. Tonight should be no different.
Tuck: A Unique One Shining Moment by Mike Tuck