The tournament season for basketball is far from over – including high school basketball tournaments I’m working in the next few weeks. The ESPN RISE High School Basketball Invitational is back at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Md., this year and I’m excited to be working it for the third year in a row. (www.nhsihoops.com) Also coming up this weekend is the McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago, Ill., and coming up in a few weeks is the 38th Annual Capital Classic – which I am helping to run, probably my biggest task to date! (www.thecapitalclassic.com)
I am looking forward to what lies ahead in the coming weeks. These high school basketball tournaments give players the chance to shine on a bigger level than inside their own gymnasiums. Most head off to Division-I schools in major conferences. It’s their time to prove they deserve to be among the best. But what about the best, now?
This weekend also notes the 67th NCAA Tournament since its beginning in 1939. The four remaining schools, all from different conferences, are set to tip off in Houston, Tex. Reliant Stadium is the host for what might be one of the most storied Final Fours in history. In making this year potentially historic, I thought I would compile some fun facts about this season’s Final Four:
By the way, despite having Kansas winning it all, I’m still ranked 115, 795 in the 98th percentile in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge…How about you?
We can start with saying that the combined salaries of Butler and VCU’s coaching staff’s are lower than that of UConn’s players…(Just kidding!!) I heard this the other day, and as a Georgetown fan, couldn’t do anything but laugh, and share it. Now for some actual facts:
- Performances of the No. 1 seeds: 1 out in second round, 2 out in Sweet 16, 1 out in Elite Eight
- The tournament has been renamed “mid-major March Madness”: VCU vs. Butler = Must See TV
- 192 ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets of 5.9 million have both VCU and Butler in the Final Four. Only 20 have those two and UConn. (via @ESPNResearch)
- Butler is the first final four team to go back to back that hasn’t been a 1 or 2 seed either time
- VCU’s defense ranked 106th in the nation. But, it ranked 2nd to KU in the NCAA. Averaged 8.2 3pt FGM season, but averaged over 10 in NCAA
- This year marks the thrd #11 seed in Final Four history with VCU in the Final Four (the others were 2006 George Mason & 1986 LSU)
- VCU’s Shaka Smart (33) and Butler’s Brad Stevens (34) combined are still younger than UConn’s Jim Calhoun (68)
- Connecticut is currently 12-0 outside of regular season action this year (Maui Invitational, 3-0; Big East Tournament, 5-0; NCAA, 4-0)
- UConn finished 9th in Big East at 9-9; VCU finished 4th in Colonial at 12-6, Butler finished tied for first at 13-5 in Horizon League, and Kentucky finished 2nd in SEC East at 10-6. VCU is the only Final Four team that did not win their respective conference tournament.
- Kentucky is headed back to the Final Four for an amazing 14th time. They currently hold the No. 1 spot for trips to the NCAA tournament with 51 appearances.
- What do you mean you have never heard of VCU!? Enrollment in the university is approximately 32,300, followed by Kentucky who has a roughly 27,200, then UConn with about 20,800 and Butler with 4,200 students
- VCU is the only Final Four team to have played five games (including a play-in game) to get to the Final Four since the NCAA had changed the field to 68 teams
There are endless comparisons to be made about these very different, very talented clubs. I’m sure someone will throw in a quote from Hoosiers (filmed at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse), or “Houston, we have a problem” will no doubt come up at some point over the course of the weekend. All we can do is sit back and enjoy what has already been a bracket busting amazing post-season ride.