Half the fun (maybe even more) of the NCAA tournament is learning things about the teams involved that have nothing to do with the game on the court. Would Loyola-Chicago’s Final Four run last year have been as interesting without Sister Jean? Probably not. In that vein, we have scoured the Internet to find one interesting thing about each of the 68 teams in this year’s tournament.
No. 1 Duke
Stud freshman R.J. Barrett’s godfather is Steve Nash, who played on the Canadian national team with Barrett’s father, Rowan.
No. 16 North Carolina Central (Eliminated)
Reserve guard John Guerra, a transfer from the U.S. Naval Academy, once completed a 100-mile ultramarathon for charity by running non-stop for more than 30 hours.
No. 16 North Dakota State
Freshman Cameron Hunter’s father, Cedric, was the starting point guard on Kansas’s 1986 team that lost to Duke in the Final Four.
No. 8 VCU
Junior De’Riante Jenkins, the Rams’ second-leading scorer, threw for 3,500 yards and 26 touchdowns as a high school sophomore. His top receiver was Mike Williams, now with the Chargers.
No. 5 Mississippi State
The Bulldogs are in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years.
No. 12 Liberty
Liberty students were prohibited from watching R-rated movies or playing video games rated “M” until 2015. Attending a dance is still against the rules, though. (The Big Dance is an exception, apparently.)
No. 4 Virginia Tech
Coach Buzz Williams earned his nickname as the manager at Navarro College for his relentless energy.
No. 13 Saint Louis
SLU was forced to redesign its mascot twice in four months in late 2016 and early 2017 because it was simply too horrifying to exist.
No. 6 Maryland
Freshman Ricky Lindo Jr. wears his socks inside-out on gamedays.
No. 11 Belmont
Second-leading scorer Kevin McClain is the first student from his high school in rural northern Florida to receive a Division I scholarship.
No. 11 Temple (Eliminated)
Seldom-used juniors Tim Waddington and Anto Keshgegian were team managers before being added to the roster.
No. 3 LSU
Leading scorer Tremont Waters is from New Haven, Conn., home of the Tigers’ first-round opponent, Yale.
No. 14 Yale
Junior Austin Williams is from Jacksonville, where the Bulldogs will play their first-round game.
No. 7 Louisville
Leading shot-blocker Malik Williams wears No. 5 in honor of a girl who played on the basketball team at his high school in Fort Wayne and was killed in a car crash in 2016.
No. 10 Minnesota
Golden Gophers head coach Richard Pitino is the son of longtime Louisville coach Rick Pitino.
No. 2 Michigan State
Senior co-captain Matt McQuaid was born just two months before Tom Izzo’s first game as head coach.
No. 15 Bradley
Leading scorer Darrell Brown, a Memphis native, is current Memphis coach Penny Hardaway’s godson.
No. 1 Gonzaga
Star forward Rui Hachimura is only the fifth Japanese-born player to ever play Division I men’s basketball.
No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson
One of FDU’s two campuses in suburban New Jersey is centered around a 110-room mansion that formerly belonged to the Vanderbilt family. Thomas Edison personally designed the heating system.
No. 16 Prairie View A&M (Eliminated)
The Panthers are 0–2 all-time in NCAA tournament play, losing to Kansas 110–52 in 1998, but did win the 1962 NAIA Division I tournament, led by future NBA All-Star Zelmo Beaty.
No. 8 Syracuse
Coach Jim Boeheim’s son, Buddy, is a key contributor for the Orange, averaging 6.9 points in 16.4 minutes per game.
No. 9 Baylor
Starting point guard Makai Mason was part of the Yale team that upset Baylor as a No. 12 seed in 2016 before transferring to Baylor.
No. 5 Marquette
Junior Markus Howard is sixth in the nation in scoring average (25.0 points per game) and first among players in the tournament. He has three games this season with at least 45 points, including a 53-point outburst in a 106–104 overtime win over Creighton on Jan. 9.
No. 12 Murray State
Sophomore Ja Morant, SI’s No. 2 prospect in the 2019 NBA draft, is eighth in the nation with 24.6 points per game while also dishing out 10.0 assists per game.
No. 4 Florida State
Leading rebounder Terance Mann is from the Boston area but is not named after the reclusive Boston author character played by James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams. He told the Boston Globe in 2014 that he was named for his grandmother, Terancia. His mother, Daynia La-Force, is the head women’s basketball coach at Rhode Island.
No. 13 Vermont
The Duncan brothers (freshman Robin, redshirt junior Everett and redshirt senior Ernie) are only the fourth trio of brothers to play for the same Division I men’s basketball team. They all started the Catamounts’ Jan. 23 game against UMBC, the first time three brothers were in the same starting lineup since Keith, Larry and Reggie Herron started for Villanova against Colgate on Feb. 26, 1977.
No. 6 Buffalo
Leading scorer CJ Massinburg can also play the piano, guitar and drums.
No. 11 Arizona State
The Sun Devils are coached by former Buffalo head coach Bobby Hurley.
No. 11 St. John’s (Eliminated)
Head coach Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson led the Johnnies to the Final Four in 1985, losing to the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown team that went on to fall victim to Villanova in one of the tournament’s most iconic upsets.
No. 3 Texas Tech
The Red Raiders shared the Big 12 regular-season title with Kansas State at 14–4, snapping Kansas’s streak of 14 straight conference regular season titles.
No. 14 Northern Kentucky
The Norse began transitioning to Division I in 2012 and qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2017, the first season they were eligible to do so, making NKU the seventh school to make the tourney in its first year of eligibility.
No. 7 Nevada
The Wolf Pack are led by identical twin brothers Caleb and Cody Martin. Caleb leads the team in scoring; Cody leads the team in assists. Cody is one minute older than Caleb.
No. 10 Florida
Freshman Andrew Nembhard’s left eye is two different colors, a rare trait known as sectoral heterochromia iridum.
No. 2 Michigan
Star freshman Ignas Brazdeikis plays lefthanded but does everything else in life righthanded.
No. 15 Montana
This is the second straight year the Grizzlies have been matched against Michigan in the first round. The Wolverines won last year, 61–47.
No. 1 Virginia
The Cavaliers last year became the only No. 1 seed to ever lose to a No. 16 seed. (Everybody remembers that, but it’s still too unbelievable not to mention.)
No. 16 Gardner-Webb
This is the first NCAA tournament appearance for the Runnin’ Bulldogs, who moved to Division I in 2002.
No. 8 Ole Miss
Leading scorer Breein Tyree is a cousin of former Giants receiver David Tyree, famous for his catch against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
No. 9 Oklahoma
Starting forward Brady Manek looks exactly like a young Larry Bird.
No. 5 Wisconsin
Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ is a first cousin of Badgers star Ethan Happ.
No. 12 Oregon
Victor Bailey Jr., who has played in all 35 games for the Ducks, is the son of Tonja Buford-Bailey, the bronze medalist in the 400m hurdles at the 1996 Olympics and Victor Bailey, who caught 62 passes in three years as an NFL receiver.
No. 4 Kansas State
Sophomore guard Mike McGuirl is only the second player from Connecticut to ever suit up for Kansas State.
No. 13 UC Irvine
Leading scorer Max Hazzard’s uncle is the music producer DJ Khalil, who has produced hit singles for 50 Cent, Dr. Dre, Eminem and others, including the certified platinum his “The Man” by Aloe Blacc.
No. 6 Villanova
Redshirt senior Phil Booth is the only player on the Wildcats’ roster who played during Villanova’s 2016 national championship run. Fellow redshirt senior Eric Paschall sat out that season after transferring from Fordham.
No. 11 Saint Mary’s
Of the 15 players on the Gaels’ roster, 10 are from outside the United States. The program has a long history of bringing players to its Northern California campus from Australia. Five players on this year’s squad come from Australia, two from New Zealand, one from England, one from Estonia and one from Latvia. Three of the Americans are from California and the other two are from Arizona.
No. 3 Purdue
Senior Grady Eifert joined the Boilermakers as a walk-on and developed into a key player, starting all 32 games this season. His brother is Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.
No. 14 Old Dominion
The Monarchs have three upset wins in their 11 Division-I NCAA tournament appearances, most recently over No. 6 seed Notre Dame in 2010, but also won the Division-II national championship in 1975.
No. 7 Cincinnati
Redshirt senior Cane Broome, who is fourth on the team in scoring, has a sister named Canei.
No. 10 Iowa
Second-leading scorer Luka Garza’s uncle, Teoman Alibegovic, is the all-time leading scorer for the Slovenian national team. Heat guard Goran Dragic is only 66 points behind.
No. 2 Tennessee
Leading scorer Grant Williams’s mother, Teresa Johnson, is a NASA engineer.
No. 15 Colgate
Colgate’s on-campus museum features one of the first dinosaur eggs ever discovered, found in 1923 in Mongolia’s Gobi desert.
No. 1 North Carolina
Junior Seventh Woods wears No. 21 because it’s a multiple of seven and his dad was born on the 21st. Seven is not a legal jersey number under NCAA rules.
No. 16 Iona
The Gaels have previously beaten UNC, winning a 2002 matchup at Madison Square Garden against a No. 22 Tar Heel team that featured five future NBA players, 65–56. Iona lost to Carolina three times (1983, 1985 and 2007) when the Tar Heels were ranked No. 1.
No. 8 Utah State
Sophomore Crew Ainge is the son of Celtics GM Danny Ainge.
No. 9 Washington
Senior starter David Crisp was a child actor and model.
No. 5 Auburn
Freshman Chase Maasdorp attended Out-of-Door Academy in Sarasota, Fla., a private school that originally held all its classes outside.
No. 12 New Mexico State
Junior Shunn Buchanan’s brother, Shaq, is a starter on this year’s Murray State team, which also earned a No. 12 seed.
No. 4 Kansas
Star forward Dedric Lawson (the Jayhawks’ leading scorer and rebounder) has slimmed down to about 230 pounds after playing at as big as 248 pounds as a freshman at Memphis. He says it was hardest to cut out Chick-fil-A and lemonade. Lawson’s younger brother K.J. is also a key player for KU.
No. 13 Northeastern
Leading scorer Vasa Pusica also practices competitive karate.
No. 6 Iowa State
Freshman starter Talen Horton-Tucker had his jersey number retired by his elementary school.
No. 11 Ohio State
Brothers Kaleb (sophomore) and Andre Wesson (junior) are both starters for the Buckeyes. Their father, Keith, played 110 games for OSU in the mid-’80s.
No. 3 Houston
The Cougars could field an entire five-man lineup of players named for their fathers: Corey Davis Jr., Galen Robinson Jr., Fabian White Jr., Cedric Alley Jr. and Chris Harris Jr.
No. 14 Georgia State
Devin Mitchell, the No. 2 scorer for the Panthers, is cousins with Duke’s Jordan Goldwire and football legend Desmond Howard.
No. 7 Wofford
The Terriers’ home arena is named for Wofford alum Jerry Richardson, the former owner of the Carolina Panthers, who paid for the gym to be built.
No. 10 Seton Hall
The Pirates’ top two scorers are both named Myles: Myles Powell (22.9 points per game) and Myles Cale (10.3 ppg).
No 2. Kentucky
Ashton Hagans, who has played in all 33 games this year, is cousins with former Auburn and NFL running back Ronnie Brown.
No. 15 Abilene Christian
Coach Joe Golding only owns one suit, so he’ll wear a pair of pants with a hole in them as far as the Wildcats go in the tournament.