Plan on watching the games at your local bar? Bring along one or two of these “did you know” facts about the Sweet 16 to cheer up your buddies as their brackets implode.
Wichita State – The original Pizza Hut was opened in Wichita in 1958 by two enterprising students. The name? They were told the restaurant looked like…well, you can guess the rest. The building was relocated to the campus from its downtown location and serves as an inspiration to undergrads: “if you build it, they will eat it.”
La Salle University – Name Philadelphia’s Big 5. UPenn, St. Joe’s, Temple, Villanova, and…Most folks would stumble on number 5, probably guessing Drexel. It’s not too surprising. La Salle could be the Rodney Dangerfield of colleges. Their nickname, for example, was mistakenly assigned to them by a Philly sportswriter who thought the university was named after La Salle, the French explorer, not St. John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. Oops.
University of Miami – There must be something in the water. Many ‘Canes have achieved great success as musicians, including Broadway composer Jerry Herman, Bruce Hornsby, Enrique Iglesias, Grace Slick, and Florida’s conga queen, Gloria Estefan.
Florida Gulf Coast – This year’s Cinderella is a newcomer to the tournament and academia, opening its Fort Myers campus in 1997. The city was home to the winter estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Preserved and operated as a museum, you can peek into the recreational lives of two of America’s greatest innovators.
Marquette – St. Joan of Arc Chapel was relocated twice since its original construction in the 15th century, finally settling on the campus in 1966. Rumor has it that St. Joan kissed one of the stones and it is notably colder than those surrounding it. Since she was burned at the stake, shouldn’t it be the other way around? Read more here.
Louisville – Horses may be the first thing that come to mind when thinking about Louisville, but it’s also the hometown of one of the greatest athletes of all time. Muhammad Ali operates a center in the city dedicated to his achievements both in and out of the ring.
University of Oregon – “Food Fight!” The immortal words that launched a thousand (probably more) cafeteria battles were first uttered in Erb Memorial Union when Animal House was filmed on the Eugene campus – after 12 other schools rejected director John Landis. Former University President Dave Frohnmayer (he was legal counsel at the time of the production) discusses the filming here, including his assumption that there would be no nudity or alcohol use portrayed in the film.
Syracuse University – “Danny Biasone saved the NBA with the 24-second rule, make no mistake about that,” said former NBA coach and referee Charlie Eckman. Biasone, owner of the Syracuse Nationals, was looking for a way to inject some excitement into the game. The shot clock immediately transformed basketball and is used at all men’s and women’s college and professional events. The clock ticks away in the city’s Armory Square.
Indiana University – The University continues to host the Little 500 bike race, portrayed in the inspiring film, “Breaking Away.” The annual event, featuring 4-person teams, has raised over a million dollars for charities over the years and has featured a Cutters entry since 1984. Buono lavoro, Hoosiers!
University of Arizona – John Dillinger was captured in Tuscon, Arizona, home of the Wildcats. Alert firefighters recognized the notorious bank robber after he and his gang were reluctant to vacate their rooms at the Hotel Congress during a fire. The pharmacist working at the local drug store then realized the customer who was sticking wads of chewed gum under the counter when served his lunch was Dillinger. Recognizing the value (?) of these souvenirs, he scraped them off and eventually donated them to the University’s College of Pharmacy. So if you’re in Tucson…?
Ohio State University – Old cheerleaders never die; sometimes they never leave campus either. Ex-cheerleader and former trustee Herbert Atkinson loved Bricker Hall so much that he had his cremains sealed in one of the walls. Lights flicker on and off at all hours as his ghost roams the halls.
Florida University – Arguably the most successful collaboration between a university and a commercial enterprise is the one between Gatorade and the Gainesville school. An experiment to rehydrate football players who were underperforming and suffering injuries resulted in the invention of the wildly popular sports drink. The success of the team’s 1966 season resulted in this headline in the Florida Times-Union: “One Lil’ Swig of That Kickapoo Juice and Biff, Bam, Sock — It’s Gators, 8-2.”
Michigan State – It’s often said you should be careful what you ask for. East Lansing city planners learned that lesson when they commissioned a parking structure in the ’80’s that would be “festive” and “have no brick.” What they got was a structure affectionately referrred to as the Habitrail.
Kansas – The University fight song is really an eerie chant that rolls through Allen Fieldhouse and was pronounced the greatest college cheer ever by Teddy Roosevelt.
Duke – Cameron Indoor Stadium is the heart of Duke’s campus, with basketball-crazed students camping out in front to procure tickets to home games.
The tradition is not restricted to basketball though. Engaged couples tent at the Duke Chapel to get prime wedding dates and times.
The University of Michigan – They love their bells in Ann Arbor, with not one, but two carillons on campus. Carillonneur Stephen Ball (who is also a renowned campanologist [one who studies bells and bell ringing]) plays the bells throughout the day and by request. Here’s The Victors, the Wolverines iconic fight song.
Enjoy the games!