16 Sweet Facts About This Year’s Sweet Sixteen

The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Regional Semifinals, better known as the Sweet Sixteen, begin tonight. To get you ready for the Regional Semis, here are sixteen facts about this year’s Sweet Sixteen.

1. For the first time since 1985 none of the Sweet Sixteen teams are from the Mountain or Pacific Time Zones.

The westernmost school to send a team to this year’s Regional Semifinals is Baylor, in Waco, Texas. Baylor and Kansas are the only two schools located west of the Mississippi River, but both are well within the Central Time Zone.

The last time no western schools were alive in the Sweet Sixteen was 1985. The westernmost team still playing into the second weekend of that tournament was Oklahoma. The Sooners’ Sweet Sixteen opponent that year, Louisiana Tech, was the only other Sweet Sixteen team from west of the Mississippi.

No teams from the pink and purple parts of the country are still playing.

It certainly didn’t help the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones that Arizona, UCLA, and Utah—western schools that have combined for 29 Sweet Sixteen appearances since 1985—all failed to qualify for this year’s tournament.

2. Eight of the 15 finalists for the Wooden Player of the Year award are playing in the Sweet Sixteen.

Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller, Kansas’s Thomas Robinson, Michigan State’s Draymond Green, Syracuse’s Kris Joseph, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, and Marquette’s Jae Crowder are all finalists for this year’s John R. Wooden Award for the best college basketball player.

Wooden finalist Draymond Green with coach Tom Izzo.

(The other seven finalists are Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan, Missouri’s Marcus Denmon, Duke’s Austin Rivers, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones, Iona’s Scott Machado, and Weber State’s Damian Lillard.)

Since the first Wooden Award was handed out in 1977, 28 of the 35 winners have played for teams that advanced to that season’s Sweet Sixteen. The only ones who didn’t were North Carolina’s Phil Ford (1978, First Round); St. John’s Walter Berry (1986, Second Round); Navy’s David Robinson (1987, First Round); LaSalle’s Lionel Simmons (1990, Second Round); Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan (1997, Second Round); Cincinnati’s Kenyon Martin (2000, missed the tournament with a broken leg); and Texas’s Kevin Durant (2007, Second Round).

3. The Ohio Bobcats are playing in their first Sweet Sixteen since 1964.

Ohio University is making its third Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history. The last was in 1964, when the Bobcats beat Kentucky 85-69 in the Mideast Region semis to advance to the Elite Eight, where they lost to Michigan.

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Ohio U. also advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in 1960. That year, like this year, they were joined by Buckeye State brethren Ohio State and Cincinnati.

4. The 16 schools still alive in this year’s NCAA Tournament have combined for 34 National Championships.

Thirteen of the schools in this year’s Sweet Sixteen have won at least one NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship. Nine have won multiple titles:

  • Kentucky: 7 championships (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998)
  • North Carolina: 5 championships (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009)
  • Indiana: 5 championships (1940, 1953, 1976, 1981, 1987)
  • Kansas: 3 championships (1952, 1988, 2008)
  • Florida: 2 championships (2006, 2007)
  • Michigan State: 2 championships (1979, 2000)
  • Louisville: 2 championships (1981, 1986)
  • North Carolina State: 2 championships (1974, 1983)
  • Cincinnati: 2 championships (1961, 1962)
  • Syracuse: 1 championship (2003)
  • Marquette: 1 championship (1977)
  • Ohio State: 1 championship (1960)
  • Wisconsin: 1 championship (1941)

Five of the 34 titles won by participants in this year's Sweet Sixteen. (Photo by Stephanie Kuzydym, Indiana Daily Student.)

5. The coaches in this year’s Sweet Sixteen have combined for eight national championships.

North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Florida’s Billy Donovan are the only coaches with multiple championships who are still alive in this year’s tournament. Both have won two.

Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Kansas’s Bill Self, and Louisville Rick Pitino each have won one title. Pitino is the only coach to have won a championship at a school (Kentucky) other than one where he currently coaches.

6. Only 14 coaches ever have won more than 30 NCAA Tournament games. Four of those coaches are on the sidelines for this year’s Sweet Sixteen.

Roy Williams has won 50 NCAA Tournament games in his career, third all-time. Boeheim has won 47, Pitino has won 36, and Izzo has won 35.

Williams, Izzo, and Pitino are three of only eleven coaches to make five or more Final Four appearances.

7. Ohio and Xavier are the only Sweet Sixteen teams never to play in a Final Four.

The Xavier Musketeers have played in the Sweet Sixteen in five of the past nine tournaments, twice advancing to the Elite Eight (2004, 2008). Ohio U. advanced to the Elite Eight in 1964 and hasn’t been back since.

The other fourteen schools have Final Four experience, though some haven’t been there in a long time. Here is a list of this year’s Sweet Sixteen teams by most recent Final Four appearance:

  • Kentucky: last played in the Final Four in 2011
  • Michigan State: 2010
  • North Carolina: 2009
  • Kansas: 2008
  • Florida: 2007
  • Ohio State: 2007
  • Louisville: 2005
  • Syracuse: 2003
  • Marquette: 2003
  • Indiana: 2002
  • Wisconsin: 2000
  • Cincinnati: 1992
  • North Carolina State: 1983
  • Baylor: 1950
  • Xavier: never
  • Ohio: never

8. Kentucky is making its 43rd Sweet Sixteen appearance. North Carolina is making its 32nd.

Here is the complete list of Sweet Sixteen appearances by school:

  • Kentucky: 43
  • North Carolina: 32
  • Kansas: 27
  • Louisville: 24
  • Indiana: 21
  • Syracuse: 20
  • Michigan State: 16
  • Marquette: 15
  • Ohio State: 14
  • Cincinnati: 11
  • North Carolina State: 11
  • Florida: 8
  • Wisconsin: 6
  • Xavier: 6
  • Baylor: 4
  • Ohio: 3

9. Seven of the ten winningest programs in NCAA Tournament history are in this year’s Sweet Sixteen.

Kentucky has won more NCAA Tournament games than any other school, 151. North Carolina is second at 141.

Kansas is fifth (123), Louisville is sixth (98), Indiana seventh (90), Syracuse eighth (85), and Michigan State ninth (75).

Ohio State (70), Cincinnati (63), and Marquette (63) are in the top 20. (Cincinnati and Marquette are tied for 20th.)

10. Six of the eight programs with the most NCAA Tournament appearances are in this year’s Sweet Sixteen.

Kentucky has earned 52 NCAA Tournament invitations, the most of any school. North Carolina is second, having played in 43 tournaments.

Kansas is fourth with 41; Louisville is fifth (38); Indiana is tied for sixth (36); and Syracuse is eighth (35). M

arquette has made 30 NCAA Tournament appearances. Cincinnati and Michigan State have each made 26.

11. For the first time ever, four of the Sweet Sixteen schools are from the same state.

The state of Ohio placed four teams in this year’s Regional Semifinals: Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier, and Ohio. This is the first time a single state has accounted for one fourth of the Sweet Sixteen.

Eighteen states don’t even have four Division I schools: Alaska (0), Arizona (3), Delaware (2), Hawaii (1), Idaho (3), Kansas (3), Maine (1), Minnesota (1), Montana (2), Nebraska (3), Nevada (2), New Hampshire (2), New Mexico (2), North Dakota (2), South Dakota (2), Vermont (1), West Virginia (2), Wyoming (1).

The last time three teams from one state advanced to the Sweet Sixteen was 2007, when Memphis, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt represented the state of Tennessee.

Ohio and its funny looking flag are well represented in the Regional Semifinals.

12. Half of the Sweet Sixteen is either from Ohio or a state bordering Ohio.

In addition to the four Ohio schools, four other Sweet Sixteen teams come from states adjacent to Ohio: Michigan State, Indiana, Kentucky, and Louisville.

13. Half of the Sweet Sixteen is from the Big Ten and Big East Conferences.

Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Indiana all represent the B1G in this year’s Sweet Sixteen. Syracuse, Marquette, Louisville, and Cincinnati all represent the Big East.

The record for the most schools from a single conference in the Regional Semifinals belongs to the Big East, which sent five teams—Connecticut, Villanova, Louisville, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse—in 2009.

14. This year’s Sweet Sixteen teams come from seven different conferences.

The Big Ten and Big East each have four teams in the Sweet Sixteen. The Big 12, SEC, and ACC each have two. The Atlantic 10 and MAC have one apiece.

Six of these seven leagues sent teams to the 2010 and 2011 Sweet Sixteens. Ohio is the first MAC team to advance to the Regional Semifinals since Kent State in 2002.

15. For the second consecutive year, the Sweet Sixteen includes two teams from the same city.

Last year’s Sweet Sixteen featured two schools from Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond. This year’s Regional Semis feature two schools from Cincinnati, Ohio: Cincinnati and Xavier.

Last year’s Richmond teams both played in the Southwest Regional. This year’s Cincinnati teams are on opposite sides of the bracket. (It’s safer that way.)

16. For the first time since 1993 the Sweet Sixteen includes Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas.

Though Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, and Kansas have four of college basketball’s most successful and storied programs, nearly two decades have passed since all four schools appeared in the same Sweet Sixteen.

In 1993 the Wildcats, Tar Heels, Hoosiers, and Jayhawks all won Sweet Sixteen games. North Carolina (the eventual national champion), Kentucky, and Kansas all advanced to the Final Four. Indiana, who was without injured power forward Alan Henderson, lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight.

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About Josh Tinley

Josh Tinley writes the Away From The Action column at Midwest Sports Fans, covering all aspects of sport aside from what actually happens on the field, court, or track. Josh grew up in Indianapolis and graduated from the University of Evansville and Vanderbilt Divinity School. He is the author of Kneeling in the End Zone: Spiritual Lessons From the World of Sports and the managing editor of LinC, a weekly curriculum for teens that explores the intersection of faith and culture. Josh lives outside Nashville with his wife, Ashlee, and children, Meyer (7), Resha Kate (5), and Malachi (3). He will not allow himself to die before the Evansville Purple Aces make another trip to the NCAA Tournament. Follow him on Twitter @joshtinley or send him an e-mail.

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