25 things to ponder about NCAA teams coming to Philadelphia

Posted: March 16, 2009

YOU PROBABLY already know a good bit about the hometown Villanova Wildcats. Aside from other national powers UCLA and Connecticut, how much do you know about the other teams coming to town for Thursday's first round in the subregional at the Wachovia Center?

Here are 25 things to think about:

1 UConn, the No. 1 seed in town, is playing out of the West Region. The last two NCAA titles that the Huskies won (1999, 2004) came as the West's representative.

2 UCLA and Virginia Commonwealth create an interesting 6-11 matchup. While the teams had no common opponents, VCU lost to No. 2 seed Memphis, 81-70, in Oklahoma City in its only contest against a ranked team.

3 Brigham Young and Villanova are two of the six teams in the tournament with a religious affiliation. BYU is the only Mormon faith-based school in the NCAA and the country's largest religious school. BYU is in the Thursday-Saturday pool because the Cougars do not play on Sundays.

4 This is Texas A & M's fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid.

5 Did you know that Texas A & M and BYU met in the first round of last year's tournament in Anaheim? Both teams had the same seeds last year. The Aggies topped BYU, 67-62.

6Surprisingly, American is the only representative from Washington, D.C., in this year's tournament. Georgetown, 2 years after a Final Four appearance, wasn't even in contention for an at-large bid.

7 VCU is located in Richmond. This is the Rams' ninth appearance in the tournament.

8 UCLA will bring its noted stingy defense with it on its 2,700-mile trek from Los Angeles. The Bruins, a Final Four team last season, have held their opponents below 60 points 12 times this season.

9 This is the ninth time that Villanova will play in the NCAA Tournament in Philadelphia.

10 UConn was also a No. 1 seed in 2006 when it last played at the Wachovia Center in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies beat Albany by 13 and Kentucky by four in the second round.

11 UCLA has won an NCAA-best 11 national championships.

12 Villanova won just once in three tries at the "big house" this season. Their 102-84 victory over Syracuse on Feb. 7 matched their biggest offensive output of the season. They dropped games to Louisville and Georgetown at the Wachovia Center.

13 The teams playing in Philly this week have tournament experience. Texas A & M, 'Nova and UCLA are three of just 16 teams to play in the last four NCAA Tournaments.

14 Each team will practice on Wednesday. All practices, from noon to 7:20 p.m., are free and open to the public.

15 BYU is 19th all-time in victories among men's Division I basketball programs. In 2005, Street & Smith ranked the Cougars 36th in their "100 Greatest College Basketball Programs of All-Time."

16 No No. 16 seed has ever knocked off a No. 1 seed. But that doesn't mean that the Chattanooga Mocs won't put up a good fight against UConn.

17 Did you know that "Mocs" is short for water moccasin, a poisonous snake? The Mocs made a run to the Sweet 16 in 1997 as a 14-seed. Last July, ESPN ranked Chattanooga the 48th most prestigious college basketball program since 1985.

18 Villanova hopes to keep its perfect 8-0 all-time record against American intact when they play Thursday.

19 Bobby Knight won two NCAA championships in Philadelphia with Indiana. Knight's Hoosiers won titles in 1976 and 1981 at the Spectrum. The only other Final Four to be played in Philadelphia was the 2000 Women's Final Four. Philly also hosted the 2001 Men's East Regional.

20 American is carrying the nation's second-longest winning streak into the tournament at 13 games. The Eagles have won 19 of their last 20 overall.

21 The Wachovia Center could top its own record for largest crowd to attend a college basketball game in Pennsylvania history, set in 2005 when 20,859 saw Villanova knock off No. 1 UConn in its regular-season finale.

22 No, neither UCLA nor UConn has the largest student body of the teams playing in Philly. That belongs to Texas A & M, which has 48,000 students.

23 Texas A & M is a young team. The Aggies return 14 of 16 lettermen next season, including four starters.

24 American is 18-2 since senior Jordan Nichols entered the starting lineup on Dec. 20.

25 In 2006, the Wildcats struggled at the Wachovia Center as a No. 1 seed. Monmouth, a 16 seed, was within seven points of the Wildcats with 6:22 to play. Allan Ray hit four straight free throws to ice Villanova's 82-78 victory over eighth-seed Arizona in the second round. *

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