Better Know a Bracket: Midwest Region

In the interest of helping the public pick a better bracket, we at TSB thought it would be a good idea for you to get to better know a bracket. Therefore, we dug up some dirt on every school in the field, and are dishing it out in reverse order of seeding, one region at a time.

School: No. 16 Lehigh
Location: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
First Round: March 18, 9:40 PM, No 16. Lehigh vs. No. 1 Kansas
Mascot: Mountain Hawks, changed from Engineers in 1995.
Famous Alumni: Lee Iacocca and Roger Penske.
Campus Note: From Wikipedia: "Until the 1970s, freshmen wore small brown hats with their class numbers called "dinks" from the beginning of the fall semester until the Lafayette football game."
Standout Stat: The Mountain Hawks are ninth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage, making 40.8% of their shots. Too bad Kansas is fifth.
Vegas Odds: 500-1

School: No. 15 UC Santa Barbara
Location: Santa Barbara, California
First Round: March 19, 9:45 PM, No. 15 UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 2 Ohio State
Mascot: Gauchos, a name that comes with one creepy logo.
Famous Alumni: ESPN's Josh Elliott and Jim Rome, softie singer-songwriter Jack Johnson, and Jason Lezak to hold down the sporting side.
Campus Note: UCSB has its own lagoon. Also, this picture is of Campus Point. I am jealous.
Standout Stat: The Gauchos have four players who shoot 38.8% or better from distance, and each has made at least 19 threes this season.
Vegas Odds: 500-1

School: No. 14 Ohio
Location: Athens, Ohio
First Round: March 18, 7:25 PM, No. 14 Ohio vs. No. 3 Georgetown
Mascot: Bobcats, in use since the 19th century.
Famous Alumni: Paul Newman, Mike Schmidt, Richard Dean Anderson of MacGyver, Peter King, Jay Mariotti and Chris Littmann.
Campus Note: Ohio plays off its reputation as a "haunted campus" for some always raucous Halloween celebrations that draw tens of thousands of people.
Standout Stat: The Bobcats are free throw champs (73.7% as a team), but Reggie Keely's the weak link: he hits just 38.5% of his foul shots.
Vegas Odds: 250-1

School: No. 13 Houston
Location: Houston, Texas
First Round: March 19, 9:50 PM, No. 13 Houston vs. No. 4 Maryland
Mascot: Cougars, because a former Washington State coach came to Houston and liked the name. Well, that was boring.
Famous Alumni: The three-man hoops squad of Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler, and Hakeem Olajuwon would be insane, but there's not much else: Brent "Data" Spiner? Robert Wuhl? Lil Wayne doesn't count, because he's not a graduate.
Campus Note: Tin Cup had Kevin Costner and Don Johnson as former UH golfers, and real former Cougars like Fred Couples and Steve Elkington had minor roles.
Standout Stat: Aubrey Coleman leads the nation in scoring, and leads Houston in rebounds and steals. I would say he is important.
Vegas Odds: 200-1

School: No. 12 New Mexico State
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico
First Round: March 19, 4:20 PM, No. 12 New Mexico State vs. No. 5 Michigan State
Mascot: Aggies, and this logo became this logo after students called for "Pistol Pete" to be rearmed.
Famous Alumni: Clyde Tombaugh's about it. He discovered Pluto. And Kansas claims him, too. Poor NMSU.
Campus Note: Agriculture is a big deal at NMSU, especially the cultivation of hot peppers.
Standout Stat: The Aggies are perfect in games decided by six points or fewer, going 11-0 in those contests this year.
Vegas Odds: 300-1 

School: No. 11 San Diego State
Location: San Diego, California
First Round: March 18, 9:55 PM, No. 11 San Diego State vs. No. 6 Tennessee
Mascot: Aztecs, which is a lot better than pre-1924 mascots "Normalites, Professors, and Wampus Cats."
Famous Alumni: Gregory Peck, Tony Gwynn, Mark Grace, and a slew of NFL notables including Joe Gibbs, Marshall Faulk, and Herman Edwards.
Campus Note: The school is situated on "Montezuma Mesa."
Standout Stat: 12th nationally in field goal percentage (53.8%) and 338th in free throw percentage (61.4%), good for worst in the NCAA field. Go ahead and foul them.
Vegas Odds: 200-1

School: No. 10 Georgia Tech
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
First Round: March 19, 7:15 PM, No. 10 Georgia Tech vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State
Mascot: Yellow Jackets, though Ramblin' Wreck is acceptable and often describes GT's guard play.
Famous Alumni: Best two-man combo yet: Stephon Marbury and Jimmy Carter.
Campus Note: Then-President Teddy Roosevelt spoke at Tech in 1905, then shook every student's hand.
Standout Stat: The Jackets are strong defensively, especially inside: 10th nationally in two-point field goal percentage allowed, and 13th in percentage of defensive possessions that result in blocks.
Vegas Odds: 100-1

School: No. 9 Northern Iowa
Location: Cedar Falls, Iowa
First Round: March 18, 7:10 PM, No. 9 Northern Iowa vs. No. 8 UNLV
Mascot: Panthers, though UNI teams were apparently called "Pedagogues" back when the school was known as the Iowa State Teachers College.
Famous Alumni: Kurt Warner, and, depending on your definition of "famous," Bryce Paup.
Campus Note: From Wikipedia: "There are many traditions at UNI but none as popular as campaniling. The UNI campanile comes alive Friday night of Homecoming week each year. At the stroke of midnight, students flock around the tower to sneak a kiss from a long-time lover or someone you just met. Back in the 1920s and beyond, there were very few men on campus. The tradition then was that the men would call a random woman to come meet them at the campanile. The men would hide in the bushes and if he did not like what he saw, he would leave her waiting and go back and call another random woman instead." Sounds fun!
Standout Stat: The Panthers like to play slow, and have given up over 70 points just once this year.
Vegas Odds: 200-1  

School: No. 8 UNLV
Location: Paradise, Nevada
First Round: March 18, 7:10 PM, No. 8 UNLV vs. No. 9 Northern Iowa
Mascot: Rebels, because the school "rebelled" against the more established University of Nevada-Reno. This was once portrayed with a "Southern Confederate" mascot used to counter Nevada's Union-colors-wearing mascot the school's scarlet and gray color scheme was taken from the Confederate uniform, and the media guide says. By the way, the Civil War ended in 1865, and UNLV was established in 1957.
Famous Alumni: Plenty in sports, from Larry Johnson to Randall Cunningham, but I just want this foursome to have a televised dinner: Guy Fieri, Jimmy Kimmel, Suge Knight, and Kenny Mayne.
Campus Note: There is an international campus in Singapore, possibly because there is no place on Earth more like Las Vegas than Singapore, where you can be arrested for littering.
Standout Stat: You won't pry the ball from the Rebels' hands: they're second in the nation in opponents' steal percentage.
Vegas Odds: 200-1

School: No. 7 Oklahoma State
Location: Stillwater, Oklahoma
First Round: March 19, 7:15 PM, No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech
Mascot: Cowboys exclusively since 1957, and Aggies additionally before that. The Pistol Pete logo/character is based on a caricature of the real "Pistol Pete", drawn in 1923 when the school was trying to replace its pet tiger mascot.
Famous Alumni: Garth Brooks, Gary Busey, Barry Sanders, Randy Couture, and T. Boone Pickens. And if you're looking for nutty coaches, Houston Nutt and Mike Gundy are both graduates.
Campus Note: From Wikipedia: "OSU is headquarters for the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association."
Standout Stat: OSU may have the weirdest backcourt in America: James Anderson is a 6'6" slasher and draws 7.1 fouls per 40 minutes, while Keiton Page is a 5'9" shooter who has taken almost three times as many threes as field goals from inside the arc.
Vegas Odds: 100-1

School: No. 6 Tennessee
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
First Round: March 18, 9:55 PM,No. 6 Tennessee vs. No. 11 San Diego State
Mascot: Volunteers, though all women's teams are called the Lady Vols at least in part because the men's and women's athletic departments are totally separate.
Famous Alumni: Surprisingly, UT has a strong writing tradition, with Cormac McCarthy, Kurt Vonnegut, and Alex Haley all claimed. And some guy named Manning is most notable sports figure.
Campus Note: From Wikipedia: "The University of Tennessee is the only university in the nation to have three presidential papers editing projects and holds collections of the papers of all three U.S. presidents from Tennessee—Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson."
Standout Stat: Don't expect many threes in games featuring the Vols: they make just 31.3% of their triples, and hold opponents to 29.3% from behind the arc.
Vegas Odds: 75-1

School: No. 5 Michigan State
Location: East Lansing, Michigan
First Round: March 19, 4:20 PM, No. 5 Michigan State vs. No. 12 New Mexico State
Mascot: Spartans, because local sportswriters wanted a shorter name than the school's selection, "Michigan Staters."
Famous Alumni: MSU alumni include Magic Johnson and James Caan, Jemele Hill and Ryan Miller, Chris Hansen and Jimmy Hoffa's son. But don't expect them to claim Robert Mugabe, given an honorary degree in 1990 before having it revoked in 2008.
Campus Note: Student media is a big deal in East Lansing, as Michigan State boasts the country's most widely distributed campus newspaper and second-oldest educational television station.
Standout Stat: The Spartans haven't quite lived up to their pedigree this year, with only three wins against teams in the top 50 of Ken Pomeroy's ratings, and the only one since January coming against Purdue without Robbie Hummel.
Vegas Odds: 25-1  

School: No. 4 Maryland
Location: College Park, Maryland
First Round: March 19, 9:50 PM, No. 4 Maryland vs. No. 13 Houston
Mascot: Terrapins, because of one man, Dr. Curley Byrd, who named the school paper The Diamondback and suggested the mascot follow suit. He did this before becoming the school's president, mind you.
Famous Alumni: Len Bias is still probably the most famous former Terrapin athlete, but getting to claim Larry David, David Simon, and Jim Henson isn't bad.
Campus Note: The school motto is "Fattii maschii, parole femine," literally "manly deeds, womanly words," but usually interpreted as "strong deeds, gentle words."
Standout Stat: The Terps are sixth in Pomeroy's offensive efficiency and 40th in defensive efficiency, and tenth overall in his ratings, ahead of Georgetown, Villanova, and Baylor.
Vegas Odds: 35-1

School: No. 3 Georgetown
Location: Washington, D.C.
First Round: March 18, 7:25 PM, No. 3 Georgetown vs. No. 14 Ohio
Mascot: Hoyas, and if you don't know the "hoya saxa" story, just go read it.
Famous Alumni: Approximately four gazillion notable figures in American politics, headlined by Bill Clinton, Robert Gates, and Michael Steele, and a potentially bizarre starting five of Allen Iverson, Jeff Green, Dikembe Mutumbo, Patrick Ewing, and Alonzo Mourning.
Campus Note: The current chairman of Georgetown? None other than Paul Tagliabue.
Standout Stat: This isn't really a stat, but Georgetown lost to Old Dominion, South Florida, and Notre Dame at home, so they can run a bit hot and cold.
Vegas Odds: 20-1

School: No. 2 Ohio State
Location: Columbus, Ohio
First Round: March 19, 9:45 PM, No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara
Mascot: Buckeyes, which you know. But I bet you didn't know that when picking the school colors, "A committee's original recommendation was to be orange and black. The committee soon discovered that Princeton already used the colors, however, and changed their recommendation." If only Google Image Search had existed in the late 1800s.
Famous Alumni: This is an impressive sports-spanning quintet: Jesse Owens, Jack Buck, Bobby Knight, George Steinbrenner, Jack Nicklaus. And Richard Lewis, which would make an Elite Eight tussle between Maryland and Ohio State a funny Curb Your Enthusiasm plot if Kansas didn't exist.
Campus Note: From Wikipedia: "The Ohio State Men's Glee Club, formed in 1875, is the oldest organization on campus. In 1990, led by Professor James Gallagher, the Men's Glee Club participated in the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangolen, Wales and won the male chorus competition by an unprecedented 20 points before, in a unanimous decision of the judges, being named "Choir of the World"—the first American choir to win such an honor."
Standout Stat: Evan Turner really does do almost everything for the Buckeyes: he's used on 33.9% of possessions, second to Houston's Aubrey Coleman on NCAA Tournament teams. 
Vegas Odds: 12-1

School: No. 1 Kansas
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
First Round: March 18, 9:40 PM, No 16. Lehigh vs. No. 1 Kansas
Mascot: Jayhawks, which are described as a "mythic cross" between the blue jay and the sparrow hawk. The word came to describe Kansans after it was used to describe militant abolitionist groups, and an attachment to the state university logically followed.
Famous Alumni: Oh, there's Bob Dole, and Jim Ryun, and Wilt Chamberlain. But could you find a better "cool dork" foursome than Scott Bakula, Bill James, Rob Neyer, and Paul Rudd?
Campus Note: "The University of Kansas has had more teams (70) compete in the National Debate Tournament than any other university."
Standout Stat: Kansas is fifth in three-point shooting (40.9%), second in two-point field goal defense (40.0%), and first in getting a raw deal from the Selection Committee despite being the overall No. 1 seed. You realize that Ohio State, Georgetown, and Maryland are good, but did you notice that both teams that beat Kansas this year are in the Jayhawks' bracket? I think KU will win the national title, but they may have to scrap to get out of their brutal region.
Vegas Odds: 2-1


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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