March Madness is upon us and Good Morning Tri-State has a takedown of all the teams to give your bracket a bounce.
We’ve tossed up these 66 nuggets of information and hope to help you take it to the house as we focus on the NCAA tournament this week.
We’re bald eagles and barbecues, blue jeans and beer.
We’re overeating, overspending, over-consuming and over-competitive - and this week, all those overages come together to create a nationwide phenomenon.
We are all, this week, experts on college basketball.
You likely have a bracket within an arm’s reach or a mouse click, and you’re not alone.
Sure, you could pick according to seed, or strength of schedule, or RPI or conference, or some other actual stat that matters.
But where’s the fun in that?
Let me do the work for you. I’ll give you one reason you should root for – and therefore potentially pick - every school in the tournament, most of which have very little to do with basketball. Let’s go. (And thanks first and foremost to my right hand-man Google for the help on this one).
We’re going in alphabetical order, just to make it that much more confusing,
Albany: Its mascot is the Great Danes. I cannot top that if I tried. Wait: they have player with the last name Ennema . Done.
American: OK, let’s see. The school is in our nation’s capital, its mascot is our national symbol, its colors are red, white and blue. The Eagles play in the Patriot League and the school motto is “For God and country.” And there’s a mall in the middle of campus. That’s ‘Merica. Just try to pick against them. Just. Try.
Arizona: Former Xavier coach Sean Miller is there now. Come to think of it, that might be a reason to root against the Wildcats. You decide.
Arizona State: I do like a mascot with a weapon . Shows force. But these Sun Devils have lost five of their last eight games. Might need a game plan to deal with a shallow bench instead of a pitchfork.
Baylor: “Sic ‘em Bears!” is the school’s battle cry, though I’m not sure a bear needs direction to do so.
BYU: Holds the NCAA record for most appearances in tournament without a Final Four appearance – 28. So the Cougars are due, right?
Cal Poly: Ahem. I mean California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. At least two words people can’t spell or pronounce. I just want to hear Jim Nantz come up with a climactic, planned pun when the Mustangs win. “Polytechnic pyrotechnics!!”
Cincinnati: You gotta love a campus that features one building that looks like a pillow, next to one that looks like something from the Crimean peninsula. Also, coach Mick Cronin took on a referee and won. Credits for bravery.
Creighton: When someone tweeted star Doug McDermott that to break Pete Maravich’s NCAA record for most points all-time, he’d have to average 94 ppg in the NCAA tournament, McDermott responded with, “So your saying there’s a chance?” Confidence? Check. Humor? Check. We’ll work on that grammar. $34K a year in tuition can only get you so far.
Coastal Carolina: It is near Myrtle Beach, and therefore, airbrush t-shirt shops.
Colorado: Confusion reigns at this joint. And I choose that last word purposely. The school is officially the University of Colorado, but when it’s abbreviated, it’s CU, not UC. If they can confuse opponents the same way, the Buffaloes have a shot. See also: Kansas.
Connecticut: The Huskies are facing the St. Joe’s Hawks. Dogs beat birds. Also, you can major in puppetry.
Dayton: The dude who invented Ctrl-Alt-Del went to UD. Most of us couldn’t make it through the day without his handy discovery (thanks, Windows!).
Delaware: The Fightin’ Blue Hens. A mascot with an adjective is infinitely better than one without. This one has TWO.
Duke: There are plenty of locals who still hate Duke and any word that even comes close to rhyming with Laettner. But even without those guys, the Blue Devils do have a bit of a rep for being uppity. You know, the Blue Devils – named for “les Diables bleus,” the French Alpine light infantry battalion. Because that’s relatable.
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels clearly capture the class of the Commonwealth. Commence clapping for complete club confidence.
George Washington: He’s the father of our country. Rooting against him is as un-American as unfried okra.
Gonzaga: Pronounced Gon-ZAGG-uh, located in a city pronounced Spo-CANN. The Bulldogs can get by pronunciation issues, so can the Oklahoma St. defense be any tougher?
Harvard: A school with a singular mascot (Crimson) does stand out (see Stanford), but it doesn’t stand a chance against multiple Bearcats.
Iowa: The state is home to Quaker Oats, Winnebagos and John Wayne. And also a bunch of corn-fed rebounders on the current Hawkeye team.
Iowa State: It provided the nation’s first entomology (study of bugs) course in 1880, but it’s kept up with the times. Now there’s a chat room. About bugs. Oh, and you just missed a giant international bug meeting there last week. Darn it.
Kansas: Official name: University of Kansas. Abbreviation: KU. See Colorado.
These Wildcats drew the UK version for their first game. Even the headlines in the local paper downplayed K-State’s chances, and heralded Kentucky as “prestigious” and “vaunted.” But these guys are playing third fiddle these days to both Kansas and Wichita State. Watch out.
Kentucky: Dare I say the wrong thing here and all of Big Blue Nation and most of my family will find me and force me to watch hours of the kids’ show Caillou . It’s a fate worse than death. The tradition, the excellence, the rabidity of the fans: it’s unmatched. And if you don’t get at least one goosebump when they play “My Old Kentucky Home,” please head to urgent care.
Florida: It’s warm there. It’s cold here.
Louisiana-Lafayette: The school name alliteration is nice, but you must root for a team with a guy on the roster named Hayward Register. Sounds like a small town newspaper or a land purchase from the 1890s.
Louisville: Lou-ah-vulle. Lou-ee-ville. Lohvul. Lou-ah-ville. However you say it, the Cards are the defending champion and are peaking right now. They’re also a trendy pick, so do with that as you will.
Manhattan: The school isn’t in Manhattan. Can you imagine tuition if it was? It’s in the Bronx. Geographical confusion? Maybe. But CovCath isn’t in Covington, either. Don’t judge.
Massachusetts: Just looking at that name is weird, since everyone calls it UMass. So while it might have an identity crisis, the Minutemen have a logo where the mascot carries a rifle. A gun. Therefore it wins the logo wars.
Memphis: Where to start? I suppose that would be with the fact that it’s my alma mater. Also, there’s Beale Street, coach Josh Pastner, barbecue, Elvis, and an on-campus railroad crossing that inevitably had a seven-mile train rolling by just as you were trying to get to your 9:10 class.
Mercer: Heading to the tournament for the first time since 1985, when most of the Bears roster was -9.
Michigan: The school has its own Jell-o mold . Game, set, match.
Michigan State: If rooting for the Spartans means more “Pure Michigan” commercials, count me in.
Milwaukee: The only city that could drink Cincinnati under the table.
Nebraska: Campus boasts the biggest weight room in the country – ¾ of an acre.
New Mexico: Sure, the Lobos colors look red and gray. NO. They are officially cherry and silver. You must reward the tenacity.
New Mexico State: Has an onion breeding program is very proud of.
North Carolina: Fire trucks in Chapel Hill are Carolina blue. That’s commitment.
NC Central: Alma mater contains the words “beauteous” and “verdant.”
NC State: The Wolfpack is now a trendy pick over Saint Louis, thanks to the performance last night against Xavier. But maybe more impressive is this: NC State doesn’t just HAVE traditions – it gives students a way to mark them off one by one . Those of you who make to-do lists just to check things off – this team’s for you.
North Dakota State: Mascot? Bison. That is all.
Ohio State: Buckeyes are delicious.
Oklahoma: Sooner provides great opportunity for headline puns. “NDSU was bound to lose Sooner, not later”
Oklahoma State: Became a university (1890) before Oklahoma became a state (1907). It’s ahead of its time.
Oregon: The team of gimmicks. A court that makes me feel like I need to clean my TV screen, uniforms that number in the double digits - there’s a lot going on here. Even the official website makes my eyes burn. But a school that says “Yeah – a smiling, pantless Donald Duck mascot is the one for us!” needs to be appreciated.
Pittsburgh: There are more than 700 sets of stairs in the city of Pittsburgh. The Panthers are used to climbing their way to the top.
Providence: School name is a noun, which means “the protective care and guidance of God or of nature as a spiritual power.” Mascot: Friars. It’s Lent. Don’t rock the boat.
Saint Louis: You know its mascot is the Billiken, as you’ve probably seen the pale Grinch-looking monster parading along the sideline during the many years UC shared a conference with SLU. But take a look at the Billiken in bronze form . That statue on campus is nightmare-inducing.
San Diego State: 1 in 7 adults in the San Diego area have a diploma from SDSU. Similarly, 1 in 7 adults in the Tri-State area live within one block of their in-laws.
St. Joseph: The Hawk never stops flapping. Dedication should be rewarded.
Stanford: Have you not seen the tree mascot?
Stephen F. Austin: One of two teams in the tournament named (first and last) for an actual human. Points for that. Also, Austin was a leader of the Texas Revolution and had the title “empresario.” If you can name another empresario, then you’re allowed to pick another team.
Syracuse: The dental chair and drive-thru window were both invented or first used there. I enjoy one of them.
Tennessee: There’s a kid on the team whose last name is Chievous. Guess what they called his mama? Ms. Chievous.
Texas: Here’s a place chock full of traditions . From Bevo the bull to “Hook ‘em Horns,” to that odd jersey color somewhere just shy of baby diaper remnants. Their true
calling may be to the football stands, but these fans are converging on Milwaukee right now to follow the ‘Horns. Home court advantage maybe?
Texas Southern: I know the pep band will be in Dayton tonight, but TSU’s marching band is called the “Ocean of Soul,” and the dance team is “The Motion of the Ocean.”
Tulsa: Garth Brooks was born there. Like their most famous son, the Golden Hurricane “Ain’t’ Going Down …” Also, I have a special place in my heart for a mascot that is singular. See also: Harvard.
UCLA: A Bruin has won a gold medal in every Olympics in which the US has competed since 1932. Tradition of excellence.
Villanova: The student spirit group is called the “Augustinian Army.”
Virginia: Sure, they’re the Cavaliers. But the unofficial mascot of UVa is the Wahoo. It’s a fish that can drink half its body weight. Do the math.
VCU: You can major in crafts/craft design there.
Weber State: In the 30s, you could pay tuition with produce instead of cash.
Western Michigan: WMU is in Kalamazoo, Mi., the second most fun city name to say, behind Bucksnort, Tn.
Wichita State: The Shockers are a 1 seed, they’re undefeated, they’ve been the talk of college basketball all year. Yeah, yeah – all that’s great. But people, their mascot is a shock of wheat. A demonically smirking, mop-topped, troll pencil topper-esque shock of wheat named WuShock .
Wisconsin: These guys and IU fans basically keep the red-and-white striped pants industry alive. And I can still play “On, Wisconsin” on the flute. My high school was one of the 2,500 schools that use that fight song, because they were too lazy to write their own.
Wofford: Sure, the Terriers are a 15 seed. But three times in the last two years, a 15 has knocked off a 2 seed in the tourney. And though student-athletes can’t get into NCAA pools, they’ll need some sort of auxiliary income: tuition and room and board is almost $48,000 a year.
There you have it. 66 reasons, 66 teams. You know what to do - first tip is 12:15 p.m. Thursday.