A dark horse no one reasonably had on his or her radar, a pair of four-seeds tabbed as potential first-weekend fodder and a chalk pick in the stiffest region of all. Bet you aced the Final Four in your bracket this year.
As if the assortment of names isn’t peculiar enough, below are some lesser-known tidbits about the four tournament survivors as well as past Final Four trends that may help you handicap a winner.
- This is the first time in tournament history a No. 9 seed (Wichita State) has reached the national semifinals.
- No team seeded lower than eighth (Villanova in 1985) has ever won a national title.
- This is the first Final Four to feature a pair of four-seeds since 1990 (Georgia Tech and Arkansas).
- Two No. 4 seeds have never met in a national semifinal or championship before. Syracuse and Michigan will meet as fellow four-seeds in the second semifinal on Saturday.
- The aggregate seed of all four semifinalists (18) is the fourth highest since the turn of the century, trailing only 2011 (26), 2006 (20) and 2000 (22).
- This is the first Final Four in 28 years without at least one blueblood — Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA — in the pod. Multiple bluebloods have occupied the Final Four 11 times over that span, which dates back to 1985.
- This is the first Final Four in Atlanta absent at least one of the seven winningest programs of all-time.
- This is the fourth Final Four hosted in Atlanta. A No. 1 seed won each of the previous three. Louisville is the lone No. 1 seed ticketed for Hotlanta.
- Louisville joins Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina and UCLA as schools that have reached at least 10 Final Fours.
- Louisville and Wichita State are former conference rivals, each having played as members of the Missouri Valley Conference in the 1960s and 1970s. The Cardinals hold the all-time series edge 19-5.
- Michigan has scored more points than any team among the field. Syracuse has allowed the fewest (per game) of any team among the field.
- The four national semifinalists have lost a combined 11 starters from last year’s teams, in addition to a sixth man of the year finalist (Syracuse’s Dion Waiters).
- Nick Wiggins, a sparingly used backup guard for Wichita State, is the older brother of Andrew Wiggins, the high school hoops phenom widely considered the best prospect since LeBron James.
- Louisville has the best adjusted defensive efficiency rating of any tournament participant in the last 11 years.
- Michigan is the first-ever Final Four team to start two sons of former, multiple-time NBA all-stars (Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III) in every game.
- Syracuse’s defense set multiple records en route to Atlanta
- Syracuse ended a decade-long drought without a Final Four appearance. Michigan ended a Final Four drought lasting two decades. That’s a long timeout.
- Louisville is making a return trip to the Final Four for the second straight year. Each of the last three and six of the last seven Final Fours have featured repeat participants. Of those six returnees, three (Kentucky ’12, North Carolina ’09 and Florida ’07) took home the title.