We’ve got plenty of opinions on the NCAA Tournament field. Let’s focus on some of the facts and figures for a minute, provided by the NCAA’s J.D. Hamilton, with some editing and commentary here.
• Thirty-five of the 64 teams were in the 2008 field. Five teams made the field for the first time in the program’s history: Binghamton, Cal Poly, Georgia State, Kansas State and Xavier.
Cal Poly has been on the cusp for years and finally breaks through after near misses in 2004, 2005 and 2007. Georgia State coach Greg Frady has been to regionals as an assistant, most recently at Central Florida. Kansas State coach Brad Hill won a Division II national championship at Central Missouri in his last season before taking over the Wildcats’ job. The school had never won more than 35 games before but already has 41 victories.
• Utah is in the field for the first time since 1960, while Boston College is in the field for the first time since 1967. The Eagles got an at-large, even though their home field is a parking lot for BC football games. My favorite story about BC’s ballfield is the one of an opposing outfielder who made a diving catch, then came up and found a chicken bone in his jersey from his dive. That’s what BC has overcome to earn an at-large berth, and that deserves a ton of respect.
• The Southeastern and Big 12 conferences lead with eight bids apiece, and that’s a record for the Big 12. Other multi-bid conferences include: ACC with seven; Big Ten, Big West, Conference USA, Mountain West and Pac-10 all with three; and the CAA, Southern, Southland and Sun Belt with two.
• Miami (Fla.) is in the field for the 37th consecutive year, extending its own record. Florida State is making its 32nd straight appearance, which ranks second all-time. Other long consecutive streaks include Cal State Fullerton (18), Rice (15) and Oral Roberts (12).
• The state of Texas leads all states with seven regional teams, followed by California and Florida (5); Georgia and Ohio (4); Kansas, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee with three apiece; and Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia and Washington with two apiece.
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