From dinosaur eggs to on-campus nuclear reactors, one interesting fact about each NCAA Tournament school

Making selections in your March Madness bracket can be hard.

Some people make picks based on what they’ve watched this season, while more casual fans will make picks by school colors, mascots or flipping a coin.

If you’re still struggling about who to pick into the next round or root for, here are some interesting tidbits for each first-round team, sports related or not. 

Abilene Christian: You may not know, but Abilene Christian is one of the most successful athletic schools in the country. Across their time as members of the NAIA, NCAA Division II and Division I, they have 65 national championships.

Alabama: A national championship would mean the Crimson Tide would join Florida as the only schools to win the title in football and basketball in the same school year.

Arkansas: You may not think of them as a basketball school, but only five schools (North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, Michigan State, Ohio State) have more Final Four appearances than the Razorbacks, with their last one coming in 1995.

Baylor: It is the oldest continually operating university in Texas, and it was founded before Texas even became a state.

BYU: Owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, no athletics team competes on Sundays because of its Honor Code, which will be accommodated should the Cougars make the Sweet 16.

Clemson: There’s a secret book on campus that each senior class signs and is preserved. If the Tigers can make their first Final Four in school history, their secret book will be filled with the names of campus legends other than football.

Cleveland State: One of two schools in Division I with the nickname Vikings (Portland State), they were known as the Fenn Foxes until the state of Ohio purchased the campus.

Colgate: Their geology center is home to one of the oldest fossils in history, as they have an 80 million-year-old dinosaur egg. It was given to the university after a former board of trustees member won it in an auction for $5,000.

Colorado: Like Baylor, the University of Colorado Boulder was founded before its state officially became a part of the United States by five months.

Connecticut: They are one of the most successful teams when it comes to playing for the title, as they are 4-0 in national championship games.

Creighton: Along with Gonzaga, Loyola Chicago and Georgetown, Creighton is one of the 28 schools nationwide that are part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Drake: The school, named after Civil War union general Francis Marion Drake, is the only founding member remaining in the Missouri Valley Conference, which was established in 1907.

Drexel: The only Dragons in Division I, they were the first university in the world to require its students to use microcomputers in 1984 after partnering with Apple, according to PhillyMag.

Eastern Washington: The Eagles have one of the best brother duos in the country in Tanner and Jacob Groves, who average a combined 25.1 ppg and 12.1 rpg.

Florida: The Gators have found tournament success since winning their last championship in 2007, as they’ve won a game in seven consecutive appearances. In five of those seasons, they reached the Elite Eight.

Florida State: The school says it does not have a mascot. Instead, it has "the honor of calling ourselves Seminoles in admiration of the only Native American tribe never conquered by the U.S. Government."

Georgetown: Head coach Patrick Ewing is one of nine active coaches who have won a national championship as a player, but he will try to be the first to win a title at his alma mater.

Georgia Tech: It’s main campus is in Atlanta, but there are Yellow Jackets all over the world, as they have international campuses in France and China.

Gonzaga: The basketball players aren’t the only ones flying high; over 56% of undergrads study abroad before graduating.

Grand Canyon: The only for-profit university in Division I will make its first NCAA Tournament appearance after leaving Division II in 2013.

Hartford: They’ve been a Division I school since 1984, but Hartford is in its first NCAA Tournament.

Houston: One of four Division I universities located in Houston, their arena, the Fertitta Center, is named after alumnus and Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.

Illinois: The Big Ten tournament champion has made it to the Final Four in the past two tournaments, a good omen for Illinois. The Illini will try to be the first national champion from the conference since 2000.

Iona: Named the Gaels after their founders, who were known as the Irish Christian Brothers. A Gael is someone of Irish-Gaelic ancestry.

Iowa: There must be something about the ability to shoot in Iowa City, as they have some of the highest scoring players in men’s basketball (Luka Garza, 23.7 ppg) and women’s basketball (Caitlin Clark, 27.4 ppg).

Kansas: The Jayhawks will enter their 31st consecutive NCAA Tournament, the longest streak in college basketball history, and they haven’t lost in the opening round since 2006.

Liberty: Has the largest undergrad enrollment out of the entire field, with 47,025 undergrads in 2019, according to U.S. News.

Sister Jean Delores Schmidt, 101, is returning to action to cheer on Loyola-Chicago at the NCAA men's tournament. (Photo: Quinn Harris, USA TODAY Sports)

Loyola-Chicago: Sister Jean has become a household name in the college basketball world, but she was a hoopster before she became a nun. She was on her high school basketball team from 1933-37.

LSU: You won’t see him anywhere in Indianapolis, but Mike the Tiger is one of two live tigers that serve as mascots. The other is at Memphis.

Maryland: The school’s mascot is a diamondback terrapin named Testudo. However, the origin of his name is unknown, but a theory suggests Testudo comes from the Latin word for a protective shield for Roman soldiers’ heads.

Michigan: While he didn’t win it as a player, coach Juwan Howard can join a list of athletes who who have won a national championship and an NBA title (Howard has two with the Miami Heat).

Michigan State: With his 23 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, head coach Tom Izzo has the longest active streak for a coach to reach March Madness.

Missouri: This university can thank Thomas Jefferson for its existence, as it was the first public university founded after the Louisiana Purchase.

Morehead State: With Kentucky not in the tournament for the first time since 2013, the Eagles will be the lone team to represent the Bluegrass State.

Norfolk State: One of two HBCUs in the NCAA Tournament, alongside Texas Southern. Norfolk State was founded first, in 1935.

North Carolina: The basketball team has been known as a bluebood for decades, but the school also is the oldest public university in the tournament. It was established in 1789 and opened its doors in 1795.

North Texas: The school’s nickname, Mean Green, has been mistakenly linked to football Hall of Famer Joe Greene, who was part of a dominant Pittsburgh Steelers defense in the 1970s.

Ohio: The school is located in Athens, home to one of the biggest Halloween parties in the world. Ohio students started it in 1974, and it recently has had crowds as large as 30,000 people (pre-COVID-19).

Ohio State: Their mascot, Brutus, is depicted as a nut that comes from the Ohio Buckeye tree, which makes sense considering Ohio is known as The Buckeye State.

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Oklahoma: The Sooners will enter the tournament as they try to end one of the worst streaks in college basketball: most tournament wins without a national title (41).

Oklahoma State: Cade Cunningham, the potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and company will try to break the Cowboys’ five-game losing streak in the tournament, which goes back to 2010.

Oral Roberts: This private Christian school is home to the nation’s leading scorer in Max Abmas, who is averaging 24.2 points a game.

Oregon: The Ducks will try to bring a national title back to its original home, as they won the first NCAA Tournament in 1939 when they were known as the Webfoots.

Oregon State: There’s sure to be energy building on this team as they won their first Pac-12 tournament, but that’s not the only energy you’ll find on their campus. The school’s radiation center has its own nuclear reactor, located less than half a mile from its basketball arena.

Purdue: It won’t be much of a trip for the Boilermakers, as Indianapolis is roughly 65 miles from campus, the shortest distance to travel for the tournament.

Rutgers: The Big Ten is known for its rich history, and even though Rutgers is one of its newest members, it is actually the oldest school in the conference, as it was founded in 1766.

San Diego State: It’s a long way from home for San Diego State, as they’ll join UCLA and USC as the only schools that’ll travel over 2,000 miles to this year's tournament.

St. Bonaventure: Known as the Bonnies, the school mascot is a wolf and is derived from a Christian story in which St. Francis of Assisi tamed a wolf.

Syracuse: Playing in a large arena is nothing new for the Orange, as their home, the Carrier Dome, is also home to the school’s football, soccer and lacrosse team.

Tennessee: Even thought it was once voted the best fight song in college football, “Rocky Top” is actually not the official fight song of the university, but it’s still something you’ll hear Volunteers fans sing after every home football and basketball win.

Texas: The Longhorns will look to win their second consecutive postseason title after winning the 2019 NIT.

Texas Southern: This HBCU is one of seven Texas schools in the tournament, the most of any state.

Texas Tech: If you’re going to knock out the Red Raiders in the tournament, you better be good. The last two teams to do so were the last two national champions (Villanova and Virginia).

VCU: Being a double-digit seed is no problem for the Rams, as they are one of five schools that made the Final Four as a 10 seed or higher. They did it in 2011.

Virginia: While they’re known officially as the Cavaliers, it’s not something you’ll hear commonly on campus. Fans refer to them as “Wahoos” or “‘'Hoos”, after rivals referred to Virginia baseball fans as Wahoos in the 1890s.

Virginia Tech: Home to Hokie Stone, a grey limestone rock, the school has its own quarry a few miles from its campus in Blacksburg. It’s used on a majority of campus buildings and for future campus projects.

Villanova: You may not know that Villanova’s football team is an FCS school, but that may be because they are the only national champion winner since the tournament expanded in 1985 whose football team is currently not an FBS squad.

UCLA: The Bruins have the most national championships in NCAA Tournament history, but they are U.S. News’ top university out of all tournament teams. They are ranked 20th nationally, but first for public schools.

UC Santa Barbara: While the Gauchos have enjoyed their run toward a Big West title, students in Santa Barbara know how to have fun, as it was rated the best party school on the West Coast by BestColleges.

UNC Greensboro: Hopefully Spartans players were able to leave apples at the Minerva Statue on campus before they left for Indianapolis. It’s tradition to leave fruit for the statue for good luck.

USC: While it is known for its media and film alumni, it has one of the most expensive tuitions out of all NCAA Tournament teams at over $77,000 for out-of-state students.

Utah State: One of five Division I schools to call themselves the Aggies,this school uses a bull as their mascot, named Big Blue.

West Virginia: If you ever feel like singing a country classic, go ahead and sing “Take Me Home, County Roads” by John Denver after a Mountaineers win. It is the official state song.

Winthrop: The school was originally an all-girls school, and was the sister school to the University of Clemson.

Wisconsin: In 2001, the school was recognized along with 29 other colleges as a “Public Ivy”, which are public schools that provide the experience of an Ivy League school for less money.

Contact Jordan Mendoza at [email protected] or on Twitter @jord_mendoza

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