Sure, we all consider ourselves experts. But let’s take a reality check for just a second — isn’t it cool to find out something new about the sports we love? Here are 10 facts the average fan might not know about college basketball as we gear up for conference tournaments and March Madness.
The Ivy League does not have a conference tourney
Every year there are 32 teams that get an automatic bid into the Big Dance. Thirty-one of them need to win their conference tournament at the end of the season. The Ivy League is the only league that does not follow this pattern. Instead, the regular season champion gets their ticket punched. If the season ended today, Harvard (24-4, 10-2) would get the Ivy League’s bid.
There was not a standardized 3-point line until 1986
The NCAA had experimented with the 3-point arc before ’86, but it was not until that year that it became finalized. Imagine all of the great collegiate scorers that could have benefitted from the trifecta. Pistol Pete averaged 44 points a game in college without the three-ball. If only…
There’s a league called the Big Five (well, sort of)
Although it is not a “real” conference, Philadelphia’s Big Five has produced some of the most historic teams and games in history. Each year, all of the Big Five schools (UPenn, La Salle, St. Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova) play each other to determine who Philly’s best is. Most of the games have been played at the historic Palestra on the campus of UPenn. Temple was this year’s champion.
There was a time when top-10 teams did not make the NCAA Tournament
Before 1975, there was no such thing as an “at-large” bid. Only the conference champions would make the NCAA Tournament. So if there were two dominant teams in a conference, only one of them could advance.
The inventor of basketball was a coach, just not a good one
Dr. James Naismith, who is said to have invented the game in 1891, coached the University of Kansas in the early 1900s. His final record as a coach: 55-60 – the only coach in school history with a losing record. So naturally, Kansas named their court after their only losing head coach.
College basketball has been a launching pad for NFL tight end careers
For some reason, a decent number of college basketball players have made the leap to football, and many of the best success stories have been from tight ends. Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham are all examples of the basketball-football pipeline.
College Park has been home to two Final Fours
These days, the Final Four is played at locations that can hold over 50,000 fans. But not too long ago (if you count the ‘70s as “not too long ago”), they were holding the Final Four at on-campus locations. Maryland’s Cole Field House has played host to two memorable Final Fours, including the Texas Western team that inspired the film Glory Road.
Bob Knight was Coach K’s coach
The current college basketball all-time wins leader surpassed his college head coach, the former owner of the record. Bob Knight coached Coach Krzyzewski at West Point. Now, the two men sit atop the all-time wins list together. That’s some coaching tree.
Oregon State’s head coach is presidential
Craig Robinson, head coach for the Beavers, is the President Obama’s brother in law. Michelle Obama’s brother was a great player at Princeton in the 1980s before getting the gig in Corvallis. Robinson seems to be slowly turning around Oregon State’s basketball program.
It all starts in Dayton
Since its installation, the play-in game (now called First Four) is played in Dayton, Ohio. The games are played on campus at the University of Dayton, and it has been that way since 2001 when the NCAA first added the 65th team. There is no indication that the location of the First Four will change any time soon.