This year's NCAA Tournament field presents a unique mix of regulars and new faces
Every NCAA Tournament field is unique, yet the same.
Even with 68 teams, the teams selected for the field -- and those who arrive via automatic bid -- assemble a mix of national powers, regulars on the March Madness scene and newcomers.
We’re used to seeing Kansas in the field, as well as some familiar surnames. But some of the absences are notable, too. The SEC and the state of Texas rule the the college football scene, but not the NCAA Tournament. Philadelphia is one of the greatest cities for basketball talent, but rarely is it as well-represented in March as it is right now.
Here’s a look at key numbers in the 2013 field of 68:
4. Tournaments in the last six with a Zeller, a Curry and a Plumlee
Three families have racked up frequent flyer miles to watch the Zeller, Curry and Plumlee brothers play in the NCAA Tournament. This is the fourth in the last six seasons to have all three, with Cody Zeller at Indiana, Seth Curry at Duke and Mason and Marshall Plumlee also at Duke. The other years with all three:
2012: Cody Zeller and Tyler Zeller (North Carolina), Seth Curry and Mason and Miles Plumlee (Duke).
2011: Tyler Zeller, Seth Curry, Mason and Miles Plumlee
2008: Luke Zeller (Notre Dame), Stephen Curry (Davidson) and Miles Plumlee
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24. Consecutive Tournament appearances by Kansas
With 24 Tournament appearances in a row, the Jayhawks are closing on the record of 27 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances held by North Carolina (1975-2001). If Kansas reaches the field next season, it will tie Arizona (1985-2009) for No. 2 at 25 consecutive appearances. Other consecutive NCAA streaks: Duke (18), Michigan State (16), Gonzaga and Wisconsin (15)
5. Teams Lon Kruger has taken to the Tournament, most for any coach
Lon Kruger is one of the nation's best coaches when it comes to turning around programs. He did that once against with Oklahoma, leading the Sooners to their first Dance since Blake Griffin took OU to the Elite Eight in 2009. Kruger is the first coach to take five teams to the NCAA Tournament with Oklahoma joining Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV.
1. Team in ACC history to win the league’s regular season and tournament titles and not be a No. 1 seed
Much of Miami’s accomplishments this season have started with the phrase “the first ACC team other than Duke or North Carolina to...” This time, it doesn’t need a qualifier. The No. 2 seed Hurricanes were the first ACC team to win the league’s regular season and tournament titles in the same season to not be a No. 1 seed since seeding began. Miami is also the first ACC team other than Duke or North Carolina to win the outright regular season and tournament titles since a David Thompson-led NC State team in 1974.
1. Big East team to make the NCAA Tournament every season since 2006
Marquette has been securely in the field for some time, but it’s notable that the Golden Eagles are the only program from the Big East to reach the NCAA Tournament every season from the time the league expanded in 2005 to the time it splits after this season.
3. SEC teams in the field
Not only did the SEC tie its fewest number of NCAA bids since the field expanded to 64, it did so with a low batting average. The 14-league team sent three bids to the Tournament, with two being seeded ninth or lower (Ole Miss and Missouri). The Big East had the most bids with seven teams (of 15), but the Mountain West (five of nine teams) and Big Ten (seven of 12) sent more than half their membership to the Tournament.
8. Future ACC teams in the field
The Big East Tournament marked the dissolution of a legendary basketball conference, which for now is the ACC’s gain. Eight teams of the ACC’s future lineup are in the field (Duke, Louisville, Miami, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse). Compare that to five presumptive members of the new Big East/Catholic 7 (Butler, Creighton, Georgetown, Marquette, Villanova) and two for the Conference To Be Named Later (Cincinnati, Memphis, Temple). In fact, five automatic bids were won by teams headed to new conferences in the next few years: Creighton (Missouri Valley to the Big East), Louisville (Big East to ACC), Pacific (Big West to West Coast) and Memphis (Conference USA to Big East). Only one team won an automatic bid as a member of a new league -- Belmont in the Ohio Valley.
3. Members of Philadelphia’s Big 5 in the field
The bubble was kind to Philadelphia. Villanova, Temple and La Salle were all on on the bubble through February and into March. All three reached the field, giving Philadelphia’s Big 5 schools (the others are Penn and St. Joseph’s) three teams in the Tourney for the first time since 2008 and only the second time since 1997.
1989. The last time Middle Tennessee made the Tournament
One of the last teams in the field, Middle Tennessee, is the (proud) owner of the the longest NCAA Tournament drought ended in this field. The Blue Raiders last appeared in March Madness in 1989 when the Blue Raiders upset Florida State in the first round. Other notable droughts that ended were La Salle (first since 1992), James Madison (first since 1994) and North Carolina A&T (first since 1995). This doesn’t include Division I newcomer Florida Gulf Coast’s first Tournament.
20. Losses by Liberty, most for a Tournament team since 2008
When Liberty won the Big South Tournament on March 10, the Flames tied (15-20) a dubious record by becoming the second 20-loss team to reach the NCAA field. Coppin State won the MEAC Tournament with 20 losses in 2008.
3. Of the last six national title winners to miss the NCAA Tournament the next year
Rupp Arena will host the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament, but Lexington won’t even have Kentucky to watch in the postseason. With its facility in use, Kentucky will face Northeast Conference regular season champion Robert Morris on its home court in the NIT. Kentucky is the third defending national champion in the last six years to play in the NIT the following year, joining 2010 North Carolina and 2008 Florida.
1995. The last time Rick Barnes didn’t coach in the NCAA Tournament
The NCAA Tournament fate for Texas and Rick Barnes has been sealed since about the the time the Longhorns lost to Chaminade in Maui. But it’s still remarkable that this is the first Tournament without Texas since 1998 and the first without Barnes since 1995, who coached three consecutive Clemson teams to the Tournament. Other notable absences: Xavier (first miss since 2005), Purdue and BYU (first misses since 2006) and West Virginia (first miss since 2007).
0. Teams from the state of Texas in the field, first time since 1977
Stephen F. Austin, Prairie View A&M and UT Arlington, which all lost conference tournament finals, were the last hopes for a team from Texas making the field. Texas, Texas A&M, Houston, Texas Tech and others needed to win automatic bids to reach the field. Baylor was clinging to the bubble before losing to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament. That leaves this year’s field without a representative from the Lone Star State for the first time since 1977.