Now that the bracket has been revealed, it's time to overanalyze to the best of our ability. OK, maybe that's just me, since I love breaking down each matchup in anticipation of the games finally tipping off.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not silly enough to think that spending more time examining strengths, weaknesses and tendencies is going to make my bracket any more successful. It's just fun to do. So, instead of providing you with inevitably incorrect picks for your bracket, this column is designed to provide nothing but facts for your enjoyment.
There will be trends discussed by round and seed, most of all, but also by conference and some of the top teams in the field. Who knows, maybe you'll even see a trend or two you want to hitch your trailer to, and it will be a difference-maker for your bracket.
NOTE: All stats referenced are since 1985, unless otherwise noted.
If you're in a bracket pool, most don't start until Thursday, but if you're looking for an upset trend to consider, look no further than one of the First Four winners ... and more specifically, the winner from Wednesday's late game.
At least one team from the First Four has advanced to the round of 32 each year. Coincidentally, it's always been from Wednesday's non-16-seed game. Since the First Four began in 2011, Tuesday's First Four winners have yet to win another game in the tourney, while Wednesday's winners have won 10 additional games in those five years. This year's late game on Wednesday features Michigan and surprise selection Tulsa.
Yes, thankfully, the first round is back! And by that, I mean we don't have to call it the round of 64 anymore (because saying "second round" when there's still 64 teams left was confusing -- deceiving, even -- to many). Thanks to the NCAA for recognizing that.
So, while you'll see mixed references in this column, any allusion to the first round is the same as the round of 64, and the second round refers to the round of 32. Now that that's out of the way ...
Here's a peek at seed-versus-seed data from each of the first-round matchups. Clearly, each year stands on its own, but it's still fun to be aware of what the recent trends have been. Let's start at the top and the obligatory "a 16 has never beaten a 1" mention.
1 vs. 16
While No. 1 seeds are 124-0 versus No. 16 seeds, last year marked the first time since 2011 that all four meetings were decided by double digits.
It's been 20 years since a No. 16 seed came within one possession of beating a No. 1 seed. In 1996, Anquell McCollum and Western Carolina lost to Purdue, 73-71. In this crazy season in which no dominant team emerged and top-5 teams were knocked off left and right, is this the year we finally see a 16 seed dent the win column?
2 vs. 15
No. 2 seeds are 117-7 all-time against No. 15 seeds, with the last loss coming in 2013, when Georgetown fell to FGCU.
No. 15s went 10 years without a victory from 2002-11, then picked up three first-round wins between 2012-13, before going winless the past two years (all losses coming by double figures).
3 vs. 14
No. 14 seeds have won at least one game in three straight years for the first time since 1997-99.
Last year, when UAB defeated Iowa State and Georgia State shocked Baylor, marked just the third time that two No. 14 seeds won in the same tourney (also 1986 and 1995). All four 3-versus-14 matchups were decided by single digits in 2015.
From 2007-12, No. 3 seeds won 23 of 24 meetings with No. 14 seeds, but are just 8-4 in the past three tourneys.
4 vs. 13
The 2014 and 2015 tourneys featured the first time that a No. 13 seed failed to win a game in back-to-back years. Prior to that, 13 seeds had won at least one game in a record six straight tournaments from 2008-13.
5 vs. 12
The 5-12 matchup is often the first upset pick targeted once brackets are released, and for good reason. From 2008-14, No. 12 seeds actually won 15 of 28 matchups. However, it should be noted that last year was just the fourth time since 1985 that a No. 12 seed failed to win a game (also 1988, 2000 and 2007).
6 vs. 11
While history shows that No. 6 seeds have won 65 percent of meetings with No. 11s, it's truly been a 50/50 proposition in recent years; they have split 24 meetings dating to the 2010 tournament.
Since 2000, only once have the No. 6 seeds won all four meetings with 11 seeds in a single tournament (2004).
7 vs. 10
No. 7 seeds have won 61 percent of matchups with No. 10s since 1985, and have won nine of 12 meetings in the past three years.
Despite the 7-10 game often being considered a toss-up, it's not often that 10 seeds finish better than a split with the 7s in any given year. In fact, only four times since 1985 have No. 10 seeds won at least three of the four meetings with 7 seeds in a single tournament (1998, 1999, 2009, 2010).
8 vs. 9
It's no surprise that this matchup is almost dead even, with 8 seeds holding a 63-61 edge since 1985. But if you're looking for a recent trend, No. 8 seeds have won 15 of 20 meetings dating to 2011.
Despite the even nature of the matchup, the last time the No. 9 seeds won more than two meetings versus No. 8 seeds in a single tournament was nearly a decade ago, in 2007.
The No. 8 seeds swept all four meetings last year for the first time since 2002. The last time the 9 seeds swept was 2001.
Sweet 16/Elite Eight
Let's talk about "protected" seeds
Regardless of how you feel about the top four seeds in each region, here are some trends to consider:
• Only four times since 1985 have the top four seeds in each region survived the first round (1994, 2000, 2004, 2007).
• And if the top four seeds in a particular region do make it to Saturday or Sunday, they should be on upset alert in the second round. It simply isn't common for the top four seeds in a region to reach the Sweet 16. Since 1985, it's happened in only 15 of 124 regions (12 percent), and just once in the past six tournaments.
• Continuing on those top four seeds advancing, only three times have all Elite Eight participants been seeded fourth or better (1995, 2007, 2009).
• It's extremely rare for all four No. 2 seeds to survive the first weekend. Only once in the past 19 years have we had a Sweet 16 in which all the 2 seeds were still alive, and only four times in the past 31 years (1989, 1995, 1996, 2009).
8 > 9?
While 12 No. 8 seeds have reached the Sweet 16, only five No. 9 seeds have done so since 1985. And their success after that has also varied greatly, albeit in a small sample size (especially for the 9 seeds).
In those Sweet 16 games, No. 8 seeds are an impressive 8-4, while No. 9s are 2-3. Boston College (1994) and Wichita State (2013) are the only 9 seeds to reach the Elite Eight. Meanwhile, not only have five No. 8 seeds advanced all the way to the Final Four, but three of them reached the title game.
Much ado about double-digit seeds
• There has been at least one double-digit seed to survive the first weekend in 29 of the 31 years since the field expanded to 64. There were at least three double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16 five straight years from 2010-14, but the streak ended last year, when 11th-seeded UCLA was the only one.
• If you have a double-digit seed facing a team seeded sixth or worse in the second round of your bracket and are tempted to pick that lower-seeded team to go a round further, history says you should simply take the better seed to reach the Sweet 16 and be grateful you correctly picked the first-round upset.
Under these circumstances, the better seed is 32-6 (84 percent). Even in 12-versus-13 matchups, the 12 seed is 8-3; however, the 13 seed has won the past two such occurrences. Here's a quick breakdown of the matchups historically, in order of closest seed spread to the furthest:
Warning: Don't take the 12-seed love too far
• Despite the relative success No. 12 seeds have had historically, with 20 reaching the Sweet 16 since 1985, there are two things worth noting when filling out your bracket: 1.) Only once have two 12 seeds made the Sweet 16 in the same year (Villanova and San Diego -- both of which defeated 13 seeds in the second round -- in 2008); and 2.) Of those 20 previous teams, only one (Missouri in 2002) advanced to the Elite Eight. That's right, No. 12 seeds are 1-19 in Sweet 16 games. Shouldn't be shocking, really, but if you're of the contrarian mindset ... have at it! Otherwise, pump the brakes.
• Not counting the First Four, last year marked only the third time that neither a 12 NOR 13 seed won a game (also 2000, 2007). In the previous seven years, though, they combined to average 4.3 wins per tourney. After such a wide-open season, it's hard to imagine another winless tourney for them.
History would agree. Once again, not counting the First Four (of course), No. 12 seeds alone have won at least one game in 24 of the past 27 years, and at least two games in 13 of the past 16. And prior to back-to-back winless years, as mentioned earlier, 13 seeds had won at least one game six straight years from 2008-13.
How many No. 1 seeds generally make the Final Four?
While 7th-seeded Michigan State reached the Final Four last year, the other three teams to get there were 1 seeds. In the five years prior, just four No. 1 seeds combined made the Final Four. Only once have all four top seeds done it (2008).
Here is a breakdown of how many No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four since 1985:
None: 2 times
One: 13 times
Two: 11 times
Three: 4 times
Four: 1 time
Dark horses in the Final Four
• Michigan State's run last year continued one of the recent trends that doesn't seem to want to end: that of the surprise Final Four participant. For the purposes of this particular note, we'll go back to when seeding began in 1979, because any team seeded worse than fourth has always needed at least four wins to get there.
Only 14 teams seeded seventh or worse have reached the Final Four, but six of those have done so in the past six years, including each of the past three years, tying the longest such streak (1984-86).
• No. 6 seeds are in quite the Final Four drought. Only three 6 seeds have gotten that far (Providence in 1987, Kansas in 1988 and Michigan in 1992); it's been nearly a quarter-century since the last occurrence.
• Until 2014, a No. 7 seed had never been to the Final Four, but it's happened each of the past two tournaments: UConn won the title in 2014 and Michigan State lost in the national semis in 2015.
• A No. 9 seed has never reached the championship game, which probably doesn't surprise you. However, Wichita State in 2013 is the only 9 seed to reach the Final Four.
• Interestingly, while a 10 seed has never reached the Final Four -- they are 0-7 in regional final games since 1985 -- three No. 11 seeds have done so (LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006 and VCU in 2011), as many or more than Nos. 6, 7, 9 and 10 seeds:
• No team has ever won a national championship after losing the first game in its conference tournament. Iowa State and Indiana are the only top-five seeds to lose their first conference tourney game this year.
• The past four champions have come from four different conferences (ACC, American, Big East, SEC).
• When it's time to pick a champion, it's OK to be chalky, as there's been quite a disparity between No. 1 seeds and all the rest. No. 1s have won seven of the past nine titles and 19 of 31 overall (61 percent) since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985.
• In that same 30-year span, No. 2 and No. 3 seeds have each won four championships, and it's been a remarkable 12 years since a No. 2 won it all (UConn in 2004).
• While some are forecasting a wild tournament, it's worth noting that prior to 7th-seeded UConn winning the 2014 title, the last team seeded worse than third to be crowned champion was 4th-seeded Arizona in 1997.
• A No. 5 seed still has not won the national title -- even if you go back to 1979 when seeding began -- but three 5 seeds have reached the championship game (Florida in 2000, Indiana in 2002 and Butler in 2010). There have been teams seeded sixth (NC State, 1983; Kansas, 1988), seventh (UConn, 2014) and eighth (Villanova, 1985) to win it all, however.
Could preseason polls actually mean something?
While the value of preseason polls is very low in the grand scheme of things, the eventual champion was often times considered a top-5 squad at the start of the season.
Twelve of the past 17 champions were in the top 5 of the AP preseason poll. Oddly enough, three of the other five champions in this span were unranked entering the season (2011 UConn, 2006 Florida, 2003 Syracuse). The other two were ranked ninth (2010 Duke) and 18th (2014 UConn).
So, if you're playing those percentages, here was the AP top 5 in early November (with tournament seeds in parentheses): North Carolina (1), Kentucky (4), Maryland (5), Kansas (1) and Duke (4).
Unranked teams in preseason to be champions
Unranked teams in preseason to be champions On the 50th anniversary of Texas Western's landmark national championship run, it's worth pointing out that there have been five teams in the past 50 years to win the national championship after being unranked in the AP preseason poll: 1966 Texas Western, 1985 Villanova, 2003 Syracuse, 2006 Florida and 2011 Connecticut. Among the teams that entered this season unranked were No. 1 seed Oregon, No. 2 seed Xavier, No. 3 seeds Miami, West Virginia and Texas A&M, No. 6 seed Texas and No. 7 seeds Iowa and Dayton.
In the South region, Kansas is the No. 1 seed and Villanova is the No. 2 seed. But banking on either to make a deep tourney run under these circumstances has been far from a sure thing based on recent history. Since 2010, a 1 or 2 seed has lost in the first or second round 14 times. Kansas and Villanova account for six of those instances. No other team has done so more than once in this span. Going a step further on Kansas, in five previous trips as a No. 1 seed under Bill Self, the Jayhawks have reached the Final Four just once, when they were national champions in 2008.
Here are more notable facts about other teams in this year's field, listed in alphabetical order:
Duke: This is the 32nd time in the past 33 years that the Blue Devils have made the tournament (all under Mike Krzyzewski), but remarkably only the fourth time they are not a top-three seed. The past two times they weren't a top-three seed, they lost in the first round (2007 as a 6 seed to VCU, 1996 as an 8 seed to Eastern Michigan). They reached the Sweet 16 the other time (1987 as a 5 seed). In all, they've been a No. 3 seed or worse eight previous times under Coach K, but advanced past the Sweet 16 just once. That was 26 years ago, when they lost to UNLV in the 1990 championship game. The defending champions have been feast or famine in recent years, with two shocking first-round exits and two titles in the past six years.
Gonzaga: This is the seventh time the Zags have been a double-digit seed. They have won a game on four of those previous occasions, and reached the Sweet 16 three times.
Indiana: There's a fine basketball tradition at Indiana, but did you know that only once in the past 22 years have the Hoosiers advanced past the Sweet 16? That was in 2002, when they lost in the national title game to Maryland. That said, it's only fair to note that Indiana has been a 4 seed or better just three times in that span, so the expectations haven't been as high as they are this year for the Big Ten regular-season champs.
Iowa State: Only four times in the 64/68-team era have the Cyclones gotten as far as the Sweet 16, and only once since the 2000 team, led by Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley, made the Elite Eight. That came in 2014, when as a 3 seed they were upset by 7th-seeded and eventual champion UConn.
Kentucky: Death, taxes and UK in the Final Four under John Calipari. OK, so it hasn't been that much of a sure thing, since they missed the tourney altogether in 2013, but the Wildcats have reached the Final Four in each of their past four NCAA tournament appearances. In all, in five trips under Calipari, they have one title and one runner-up finish, and their worst result is an Elite Eight trip in his first season in 2010.
Dating to 2006, Calipari's teams have reached the Sweet 16 in each of their past nine appearances (five at Kentucky, four at Memphis), and the Elite Eight or better in eight of those nine trips. Quite amazing, even considering the great talent he's had on many of those squads.
Maryland: Getting past the first round hasn't been the problem; it's escaping the first weekend! The Terps have won 11 straight first-round games, the second-longest active streak behind North Carolina's 13. But they've lost five straight second-round games dating back to 2004. The same holds true for head coach Mark Turgeon, as he's lost four straight second-round games between Maryland and Texas A&M. The last time Maryland reached the Sweet 16 was 2003, while Turgeon's only such trip came in his first tourney appearance with Wichita State in 2006.
Miami: Jim Larranaga has the Hurricanes back in the tourney as a No. 3 seed, with designs on the school's first advancement past the Sweet 16. In Miami's last appearance in 2013, Shane Larkin and crew landed a No. 2 seed, but the Canes were knocked out in the Sweet 16 by Marquette.
Outside of teams in the First Four, it takes six wins to win the title. Miami has just six tournament wins in school history. Even making a run to the Final Four with this little of a basketball history is rare. Since the field expanded in 1985, only six teams reached their first Final Four in a year in which they entered the Big Dance with six or fewer NCAA tournament wins. The good news for the Hurricanes? In 2006, it was done by current coach Jim Larranaga at his former school, George Mason, which did not have a single NCAA tournament win prior to its Final Four run.
Michigan State: Tom Izzo is known for his tournament success, regardless of his team's seeding entering the Dance, but it's been a long time since the Spartans gave the Big Ten its last national champion in 2000. In 18 prior NCAA tourney trips under Izzo, the Spartans have reached the Elite Eight or better half the time, including an impressive seven Final Four appearances. And when Izzo has a highly regarded team -- as is the case this year, as a No. 2 seed -- the Spartans rarely disappoint. They have been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed five previous times on his watch, and reached the Final Four in all but one of those trips, a 2012 Sweet 16 loss to Louisville as a 1 seed.
North Carolina: UNC has no Final Four appearances in the past six years. That may not seem noteworthy on the surface, but this is the school's longest drought since missing the Final Four eight straight years from 1983-1990.
The Tar Heels are a No. 1 seed for the sixth time under Roy Williams. Each of the previous five times, UNC reached the Elite Eight, including three Final Four trips and two national titles.
This is quite the departure from Williams' time at Kansas, when he failed to get past the Sweet 16 in each of his first four trips as a No. 1 seed from 1992-98, before finally reaching the Final Four in 2002.
Oklahoma: This is the highest seed (No. 2) a Lon Kruger-coached team has ever received, but it's been 22 years since he's taken a team past the Sweet 16 (his 1994 Florida Gators reached the Final Four).
Oregon: The Ducks are 3-0 in first-round games under Dana Altman despite receiving 7, 8 and 12 seeds. In 2013 as a 12 seed, they reached the Sweet 16 before falling to eventual champion Louisville. This year, the first-round matchup is friendlier, though.
Oregon has been a top-three seed twice before (2002 and 2007). Both times the Ducks reached the Elite Eight and lost to a No. 1 seed. This time, they are a No. 1 seed.
Oregon State: This is the first time the Beavers have been to the NCAA tournament since 1990, which ends the longest drought among teams from the five power conferences that have been to the tourney before (Northwestern has never been to the tournament). The team's star this season is Gary Payton II, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton, who was the star on that 1990 Oregon State team.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers are 7-1 in their past eight first-round games, all of which have been decided by double figures. However, Pitt hasn't reached the Sweet 16 since 2009.
Purdue: The Boilermakers' streak of 14 straight first-round wins came to an end last year when they lost to Cincinnati by one in the Midwest Region 8/9 game. They'll try to start a new streak against a dangerous Little Rock team in the dreaded 5-12 game on Thursday in Denver.
Syracuse: The Orange is an 10 seed in the Midwest region. It's the first time they've been worse than an 8 seed. In their only trip as an 8 seed in 1999, they lost to Oklahoma State in the first round.
Texas A&M: In seven trips to the NCAA tournament since the field expanded in 1985, the Aggies have been to the Sweet 16 once. That was in 2007, which is also the year they achieved their best seed (No. 3), which they matched this year.
Utah: This is the highest seed the Utes have earned since 1999, when they were a 2 seed and lost in the second round to Wally Szczerbiak and Miami (Ohio).
Virginia: This is the third straight year Tony Bennett has led the Cavaliers to a top-two seed, but the team is looking to avoid another earlier-than-expected exit. Maybe simply avoiding Michigan State would do the trick, as the Spartans have sent Virginia packing each of the past two years. Last year, the second-seeded Cavaliers lost in the second round; in 2014 as a 1 seed, they fell in the Sweet 16. Guess who lurks in the Elite Eight of the Midwest region, if the seeds play out? Naturally, those pesky Spartans.
West Virginia: This is only the second time the Mountaineers have been seeded higher than fifth. More on that below, but if there's been one thing you can count on with Bob Huggins' teams, it's that they won't disappoint in round one. Huggins is 13-0 in the first round as a No. 5 seed or better in his career. But there's more to this story.
Huggins has experienced true ups and downs as a top-four seed during his coaching career. Each of the first three times, way back in 1992, 1993 and 1996 while at Cincinnati, he reached the Elite Eight or better. He then finished his time at Cincinnati with a series of disappointing tournament finishes, losing in the second round six straight times when seeded fourth or better between 1997 and 2004. Since coming to West Virginia, his only time as a top-four seed was a great experience, as the Mountaineers reached the 2010 Final Four as a No. 2 seed. No one ever seems to want to play Huggy Bear's teams, but when it comes to filling out your bracket, you could argue his teams are among the hardest to figure.
Xavier: No school has more NCAA tournament wins without a Final Four appearance than Xavier's 23. With a favorable seed, will Chris Mack take his Musketeers where no X has gone before? The last time Xavier received a 3 seed (2008), current Arizona head coach Sean Miller took them to the Elite Eight.
If you like to know which conferences are hot or cold in tourney play, or historically good or bad, this section is for you. Some trends are stronger than others, but we've got something to say about each of the 32 conferences below.
• America East teams are just 3-28 in first-round games since 1985, with the last win coming in 2005 (Vermont over Syracuse). Worse yet, Albany's 9-point loss to Oklahoma last year was the closest defeat by an America East team since 1993. That 2005 senior-laden Vermont team was a 13 seed, which happens to be what Stony Brook, also a veteran group, got this year in its first NCAA tournament appearance.
• This is the first time in the three years the American has existed that the conference has had a team seeded worse than eighth (in fact, three of the American's four teams did so: Cincinnati, Temple and Tulsa). While UConn and Louisville made the Sweet 16 in 2014, with the Huskies going on to win the championship, neither of the American's representatives last year (SMU or Cincinnati) survived the first weekend.
• Last year marked the first time an Atlantic 10 school didn't reach the Sweet 16 since 2007, ending a seven-year streak that is the longest such streak in conference history.
• Last year, the six teams from the ACC combined for 17 wins in the tourney, tying for the most by a conference in the NCAA tournament. The conference has had multiple teams in the Sweet 16 in 32 of the past 36 years, although all four of those years with just one rep have come in the past decade ('07, '08, '10, '14).
• The Atlantic Sun is one of two conferences to have not lost a round-of-64 game the past three years. Of course there is a catch, since last year's A-Sun rep (North Florida) lost in the First Four and, therefore, didn't make it to the first round, but the two years before that were magical. In 2013, FGCU was a tourney first-timer when it became the only No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16. Then, in 2014, 14-seed Mercer stunned Duke. With Dunk City back for a second trip this year, could the slipper still fit? As a 16 seed playing in the First Four, the Eagles would truly be one-upping themselves.
• As strong as the Big 12 is year after year -- and 2016 is no different -- it has supplied just one champion (Kansas in 2008) since its formation in 1997. Forgetting about championships, what's surprising is the lack of Final Four teams from the conference. Since KU's title, the Big 12 has had just one team reach the Final Four (Kansas in 2012). That's right; Butler has been to more title games in the past seven years than the Big 12 has had Final Four teams.
• Considering all of the changes the Big East has endured, it's not surprising its tournament results aren't what they used to be. In 2013, Louisville won the national title, Syracuse reached the Final Four and Marquette the Elite Eight. The first two schools are no longer in the conference, and Marquette hasn't qualified for the tournament since. But it's not like all of the talented teams have bolted; Villanova and Xavier are both No. 2 seeds in this year's field.
There's no sugar-coating it, though. It's been a huge struggle the past two years, as the conference has totaled just seven wins and only one team has advanced past the second round (Xavier last year), despite having a 1 seed in 2015 (Villanova) and a 2 and 3 seed in 2014 (Villanova and Creighton). With two more high seeds in the Dance this year, this trend will certainly be put to the test.
• It's the 10-year anniversary of the Big Sky's only win in the 2000s, when 12th-seeded Montana, coached by current Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak, upset Nick Fazekas, Ramon Sessions and Nevada. Will Joel Bolomboy and Weber State get the conference back into the win column? The Wildcats have a tall order in the first round against Xavier.
• The Big South has only one win in the round of 64, which came by Gregg Marshall's Winthrop squad in 2007, his final season in Rock Hill. UNC Asheville is the conference's representative this year. You may remember the last time the Bulldogs were in the field, as a 16 seed in 2012, when they gave No. 1-seed Syracuse all it could handle before losing, 72-65.
• The last time a Big Ten team won the national championship was 2000 (Michigan State). Since then, the conference has had just eight No. 1 seeds, four of which lost in the Sweet 16, while the other four reached the Final Four (three losing in the national title game). The Big Ten's highest-seeded team this year is No. 2 Michigan State.
• Last year, UC Irvine came oh-so-close to upsetting Louisville in the first round before falling by 2. This year, it's up to the Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii to try to end the Big West's 11-year drought without a first-round victory.
• The CAA has gone winless in the first round three straight years for the first time since 2003-05 (James Madison did win a First Four game in 2013). For a conference that has long been competitive in the tournament, it stands to reason UNC Wilmington won't go quietly against Duke on Thursday in Providence.
• Ever since John Calipari's departure from Memphis following the 2008-09 season, Conference USA's tournament fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. Even Memphis has since departed the conference for the American. But in the past six NCAA tournaments, Conference USA has just two wins total, and you have to go all the way back to 2005 to find the last time a C-USA school besides Memphis received anything better than a 9 seed. While 14th-seeded UAB upset Iowa State in the first round last year, it's been seven years since a C-USA school reached the Sweet 16. And yes, that was Coach Cal's final Memphis squad.
• Can Green Bay help the Horizon League get its mojo back? Never has the conference gone longer than its current four straight years without an NCAA victory. Despite being mostly a one-bid league, a Horizon team won an NCAA tourney game in seven straight years from 2005-11, thanks in large part to since-departed Butler.
• Yale's back in the Dance for the first time since 1962, and the Bulldogs hope to continue the Ivy League's recent trend of being a pain to play against. Dating to 2010, when Cornell made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 as a 12 seed, Ivy squads have split their six first-round games, and two of those three losses came by two points each (Harvard against North Carolina in 2015, and Princeton against Kentucky in 2011). All of this is to say, beware Baylor!
• The MAAC won a round-of-64 game in consecutive years for the first time ever in 2008-09, but hasn't won a game since. In those past six years, no team received better than a 13 seed. That continues to be the case this year, as Iona received a 13, while Monmouth was snubbed.
• During a 15-year span from 1989-2003, no one wanted to face a MAC team in the first round. Despite never getting a seed better than ninth, MAC teams went 10-8 in first-round games, went on to four Sweet 16s and even one Elite Eight appearance by Kent State in 2002. The past 12 years has seen decidedly less #MACtion, though, as the conference is just 2-10 in the first round with one Sweet 16 appearance (Ohio in 2012). Buffalo gave West Virginia trouble as a 12 seed last year, and the Bulls are back again in search of their first NCAA tournament victory against Miami in the South region.
• Since 1985, the MEAC is just 3-24 in the first round, and all three wins have been memorable upsets as No. 15 seeds. But the losses haven't been close, as all 24 have come by double figures (and an average of 23.3 points). No magical 15th seed this year, as Hampton got a 16 and will face Virginia.
• The Missouri Valley Conference is the only conference to win a first-round game each of the past three years without a loss (5-0). The Valley has also won at least one game in each of the past four tourneys, and if you're concerned that the conference doesn't have a higher seed to lean on -- both Wichita State and Northern Iowa are 11 seed, with the Shockers in the First Four -- that hasn't stopped it before. Dating to 2010, the past three MVC teams to reach the Sweet 16 were seeded 7th, 9th and 9th. Those teams were -- guess who -- Wichita State (twice) and Northern Iowa, both of which won a tourney game last year.
• This marks just the second time in the 17-year history of the Mountain West that it's been a one-bid conference (2001 is the other instance). Double-digit seeds from the MW (like Fresno State is this year) have not fared well at all, with an all-time mark of 1-15 in the first round (and 0-2 in First Four games, if you want to pile on). Unfortunately, those struggles extend to higher seeds, too. Despite usually sending multiple teams, the conference has had just five teams advance to the Sweet 16 and none to the Elite Eight.
• The NEC is the only conference to have never won a game in the round of 64. That's 34 years and counting. The conference's only victories have come in opening-round or First Four games. The fact that this marks the 14th straight year an NEC team received a 15 or 16 seed has made it hard to break through. Fairleigh Dickinson will have to beat FGCU on Tuesday just to get to the first round.
• The Ohio Valley Conference clearly enjoys its tournament success in bunches. In the 64-team era, the OVC has won six first-round games, both coming in a pair of 3-year streaks (one win each from 2010-12 and 1987-89). The conference is 0-26 in the first round in all other years. With 16th-seeded Austin Peay as the OVC rep this year, it's not likely the start of a new 3-year winning streak.
• It's been nearly 20 years now since a Pac-12 team won a championship (Arizona in 1997). It's been eight years since the last Final Four team from the conference (UCLA). And since that last Final Four trip for the Pac-12 in 2008, Arizona is the only team to get as far as the Elite Eight (three times, but lost each game). That 2014 Arizona team also happened to be the only No. 1 seed the conference has had in that span, so maybe Oregon will enjoy similar success (or better) as a top seed this year.
What's odd is that the conference has been dominant in first-round games recently, 22-5 since 2009. Things have fallen off rather quickly, though, after that ... 11-11 in the second round and just 3-8 in the Sweet 16.
• The Patriot League representative the past two years has lost its first-round game by 40-plus points. If Holy Cross wins its First Four game against Southern, it will hope for a better result against No. 1 seed Oregon.
• The difference between the SEC and Pac-12 in recent years, in terms of tournament success, has been the presence of elite teams at the top of the SEC (Kentucky and Florida). The SEC's first-round record since 2010 is just 14-10, but those who have advanced have had legs. In the second round in this span, the conference is an impressive 11-3 and an amazing 10-1 in Sweet 16 games. Kentucky and Florida have notched nine of those 10 Sweet 16 wins.
But is there an "elite" SEC team this season? That remains to be seen, but there's no doubt many feel Kentucky was under-seeded as a No. 4. Texas A&M is the SEC's highest-seeded team, as it received a No. 3 in the West.
• Despite a reputation for being a tough out in the tourney, the Southern Conference doesn't have many wins to show for it. In fact, the only wins the conference has in the past 18 years are the three that Stephen Curry and Davidson collected on the way to the Elite Eight in 2010. But to the first point, the past eight times the SoCon has received a 12, 13 or 14 seed, the average margin of defeat is just 5.4 points, with only one game decided by more than 8 points! Chattanooga is a dangerous team and has a chance to put the SoCon back in the win column against Indiana in a 5-12 game in the East region.
• The Southland Conference has just two first-round wins in the past 30 years (Stephen F. Austin in 2014 and Northwestern State in 2006). A lot of that has to do with the fact the conference's representative was seeded 13th or worse for the first 28 of those years until the past two years, when SFA received a 12 seed each year. The Lumberjacks weren't as fortunate this year, as the 14 seed in the East and a date with West Virginia.
• It's been 23 years since the SWAC's last win in the round of 64. In 1993, 13th-seeded Southern knocked off Georgia Tech, 93-78. Those Jaguars are back for the first time since 2013, when they took No. 1-seeded Gonzaga to the limit before falling by 6. If they are able to take care of Holy Cross on Wednesday, they'll get another shot at a top seed (Oregon).
• The Summit League has just one NCAA tournament first-round win in the past 17 years. That came in 2014, when 12th-seeded North Dakota State knocked off Oklahoma in OT. It's up to NDSU's rival, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, to get its first tourney victory in school history this year. They'll face Maryland on Friday.
• Last year, Georgia State shocked Baylor on R.J. Hunter's deep 3, logging the Sun Belt's first win in the round of 64 since 2009. What many likely didn't realize (or even care, maybe) was that the Panthers became the first Sun Belt team not named Western Kentucky to win a tourney game in 23 years! Arkansas-Little Rock hopes to give the conference wins in back-to-back years for just the third time in more than a quarter century (1992-93, 2008-09). It just happens to be the 30th anniversary of the Trojans' only NCAA tournament victory, when they upset Digger Phelps and Notre Dame as a No. 14 seed.
• The West Coast Conference has won at least one game each of the past eight years, and that's due in large part to Gonzaga. Outside of the Zags, the conference has just three wins in the past 15 years, not counting the First Four (Saint Mary's won two in 2010, San Diego in 2008). The conference's success is all on Gonzaga's shoulders this year, as the WCC's lone representative.
• It's been nine years since a WAC team won a tournament game -- No. 7-seed Nevada beat Creighton in OT in 2007 -- and that's also the last time the conference had a single-digit-seeded representative. As the WAC has become far less imposing than it used to be, double-digit seeds are the norm. Bakersfield, in its first NCAA tourney appearance, hopes to become the first WAC double-digit seed to win since 10th-seeded Nevada reached the Sweet 16 in 2004. It'll be a tall task against Buddy Hield and Oklahoma.
Thanks to Chris Fallica from ESPN Stats & Information for contributing data.