UNLIKELY FINAL FOUR TEAMS
Lowest seed to make the women’s final four: 9-seeded Arkansas in 1998. Lowest seed to make the men’s final four: four #11 seeds, including LSU (1986), George Mason University (2006), and Loyola Chicago (2018). The lowest seed in either tournament to win a title: 8th-seeded Villanova in 1985.
At 7’7”, Tacko Fall of the University of Central Florida, is the tallest NCAA tournament participant ever. Lindsay Taylor, who played for the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, is the tallest woman to ever play in the NCAA tournament, standing 6’8”. (She’d go on to be the third-tallest WNBA player of all time.)
In the history of both the men’s and women’s tournament, the shortest players ever both have stood 5’3”. Muggsy Bogues of Wake Forest got all the way to a regional final as a freshman in 1984. At 5’3”, he’s the shortest NCAA men’s tournament participant and the NBA’s shortest-ever player. The shortest woman to play in the NCAA tournament: 5’2” Shannon Bobbitt, who won two national championships with Tennessee in 2007 and 2008.
MOST SUCCESSFUL TEAMS
On the men’s side, no team has won more championships than UCLA, with 11. In the 12-year period of 1964 to 1975, the Bruins won 10 titles, including seven in a row. On the women’s side, the University of Connecticut has been dominant. The Huskies have 11 titles, and they’ve made it at least as far as the Final Four since 2008. The team hasn’t even missed the tournament since 1988.
Only seven times in men’s college basketball has a team gone undefeated throughout the regular season and then won every tournament game to claim a national title. The last to do it: Indiana (32-0) in 1975-76. In the women’s game, it’s happened nine times. Most recently, the University of Connecticut did it in 2015-16 — the school’s sixth undefeated run.
From 1966 to 1969, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, at the time known as Lew Alcindor, led UCLA to three straight championships and three straight awards for the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. He might have made it a perfect four, but in the ‘60s, freshmen were barred from competition. Only one player did that: University of Connecticut women’s team legend Breanna Stewart. The Huskies won a title all for years she was in school, and she was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player all four times.
ONE YEAR, TWO TOURNAMENTS (TWICE)
In 2004, the University of Connecticut basketball teams — the men’s and women’s teams — each won their respective NCAA tournament. This marked the first time that one school won both titles. It’s only happened again once — ten years later, both Huskies squads did it again.
WEIRD FACTS ABOUT 2021 MARCH MADNESS
According to statisticians, out of the millions of people who fill out a men’s NCAA bracket, only about 100 correctly called every first-round matchup. The number of people who got absolutely every first-round matchup completely wrong: also about 100. Perhaps they were thrown off by the lack of Duke University. The stellar men’s basketball program had to sit out the 2021 tournament because of COVID-19 protocols, the first time since 1976 the school didn’t compete in March Madness.