COLUMN: Title game fun facts

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By John Overby

In remembrance of this year’s NCAA tournament, one of the most exciting in recent memory, here are some random facts about both Monday’s national championship game and the teams (Kentucky and Connecticut) who played in it.

*All statistics go back to 1985, the year the tournament expanded to 64 teams, unless otherwise specified.

• Before Monday night’s loss, UK and Louisville were a combined 23-0 against non-Kentucky based teams in the last three NCAA tournaments.

• UK fell to 0-3 against UConn in the NCAA tournament.

• UK is the first team to win four straight and play five consecutive NCAA tourney games decided by six or fewer points in the event’s 76-year history.

• The last No. 8 seed to reach the finals before UK this season was the 2011 Butler Bulldogs. They were also defeated by UConn.

• UConn and UK became the first teams to square of for a national title after both squads missed the previous year’s NCAA tournament.

• UConn became the first team to win the national championship after missing the previous tournament since the 2011 Huskies.

• This was the fourth time that UK was seeded at No. 8 in the NCAA tournament. They had never made it past the Round of 32 in that position before this year.

• Only twice has UK been ranked lower than No. 8 — they suffered a Round of 64 loss in 2008 as a No. 11 seed, but 1985’s Kenny Walker-led squad made it to the Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed.

• Fifteen is the highest combined composite score between the national championship squads (compiled by adding together the two finals teams’ seed) in the history of the tournament.

The next highest score was 11 in 2011.

• The average composite score during this decade (starting in 2010) is 8.0. In comparison, the 2000s scored a 3.9, the 1990s scored a 4.1 and the time frame from 1985-1989 scored a 5.6.

• UK arguably had the hardest slate of tournament games in recent memory, taking out three of the previous year’s Final Four teams. However, using a metric that combines each opponents’ seeds for one composite score (for example, UK scored a 16 in their first four games because they faced a 9, 1, 4 and 2), three other teams make a strong case.

The 2011 Butler Bulldogs (a No. 8 seed) tied UK’s score of 16 to make it to the Final Four but scored a 14 in their last two games alone. UK only scored a 9 in their final two games.

The 11-seeded 1986 LSU Tigers had the lowest composite score leading up to the Final Four with 12, but they were unable to make it to the final game.unable to make it to the final game.

Using this metric, UK edged out the 1985 Villanova Wildcats (also a No. 8) by one point in games before the Final Four. However, Villanova, the only team on this list to win the national championship, scored a 3 in their final two games for the most impressive total score (20).

• UConn became the first seven seed to advance to and win the national championship.

• UConn is the lowest seed (No. 7) to win the tournament since the eighth-seeded Villanova Wildcats in 1985.

• The UConn Huskies have both its mens’ and womens’ teams playing for the national title this year, only the fourth time that a school has accomplished such a feat.
Both 1999 Duke teams lost, while the 2013 Louisville mens’ team won but their womens’ squad lost. If this year’s UConn women defeat Notre Dame on Tuesday night (the title game occurred after press time), the duo would join their 2004 UConn counterparts as the only team to win both titles in the same year.

• Shabazz Napier joined Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose and Larry Bird as the only players to score 125 points, secure 25 boards and record 25 assists in a single NCAA tournament. Bird was the only one to pull off the feat while playing in five national tournament games rather than six.

• UConn became the first team to go perfect from the line in a national title game, making all 10 of their attempts.

• After Monday night’s win, the Huskies are now the only team to be 4-0 in national championship games.

• All four of UConn’s national championships have occurred since 1999, the most in that time span.