From elephant races to blood shooting lizards, fun facts about each men's NCAA Tournament team

·11 min read

Whether you watch college basketball or not, millions of people across the United States will be filling out their March Madness brackets this week, hoping to win money, prizes or simply have bragging rights over friends and coworkers.

But sometimes picking which teams you want to advance can be tough.

Big college basketball fans might pick their teams based off what they've seen throughout the season, or pick the occasional higher seed knowing upsets are bound to happen. Casual basketball fans may pick winners based off seeds or what schools they know are rather successful in March. Then there's the group that don't watch basketball who may pick teams because they have a cool mascot, like the way their name sounds or like their school colors.

No matter what demographic you fall under, some people may flip a coin or roll a dice when they get to a matchup they can't decide on.

If you're one of those people struggling to make picks, here are some interesting tidbits about each school, basketball related or not, in the men's tournament that could help you pick your winners in hopes of having the best bracket.

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Don't make these mistakes in your NCAA Tournament bracket

West region

Gonzaga Bulldogs: Gonzaga is known as a basketball school, and they are one of 13 schools in the tournament not to have an NCAA football team.

Georgia State Panthers: Despite not being in a power conference, they've been the most successful team in Georgia recently. Their four tournament appearances since 2015 are more than all other Georgia schools combined.

Boise State Broncos: Boise State will look to break one of the worst NCAA Tournament streaks. This is their eighth appearance and have yet to win a game; second worse is Iona's 15 appearances without a win.

Memphis Tigers: The Tigers will look to win their second consecutive postseason title after winning the 2021 NIT.

Connecticut Huskies: You might not want to play the Huskies in the national championship game; they are 4-0 when playing for the title.

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New Mexico State Aggies: One of five Division I schools to use the Aggies nickname, which is used for university's agricultural roots.

Arkansas Razorbacks: You may not think of them as a basketball blueblood, 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.

Vermont Catamounts: What is a catamount? It's any type of wild cat, so wildcats, bobcats, cougars. They also are extinct in Vermont.

Alabama Crimson Tide: The school has the largest Greek life out of any university, with over 10,000 undergraduate students in fraternities or sororities.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: 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.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: Is their seeding luck of the Irish? They could be the third No. 11 seed to go from First Four to Final Four, with VCU doing it in 2011 and UCLA last season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders: Lubbock, where the school is located, is a great place for music. It has more music venues per capita than any other city in the state.

Montana State Bobcats: The last time the Bobcats were in the tournament, "The Birdcage" was the No. 1 box office movie in the country, which was in 1996.

Michigan State Spartans: With his 24 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, head coach Tom Izzo has the longest active streak for a coach to reach March Madness.

Davidson Wildcats: Ever heard of flickerball? The alternative touch football game similar to ultimate frisbee was created at Davidson in 1951.

Duke Blue Devils: Head coach Mike Krzyzewski will look to win his sixth national championship in his final season at Duke, the second most of any coach ever behind John Wooden.

Cal State Fullerton Titans: The Titans mascot is an elephant, and that's because the school hosted the "First Intercollegiate Elephant Race in Human History" in 1962 that attracted over 10,000 people, and the elephant mascot was used to promote the event.

East Region

Baylor Bears: Will attempt to be the first school since Florida (2006-2007) and eighth school ever to win the national championship in back-to-back seasons.

Norfolk State Spartans: The school is the oldest HBCU in the tournament, as it was founded in 1935. It is one two HBCUs in the NCAA Tournament, alongside Texas Southern.

North Carolina Tar Heels: The basketball team has been known as a blueblood 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.

Marquette Golden Eagles: Marquette became the first co-educational Catholic university in the world in 1909.

Saint Mary's Gaels: The school got their nickname because their now-defunct football team once had many players of Irish decent. A Gael is someone of Irish-Gaelic ancestry.

Indiana Hoosiers: Like Crest toothpaste? It was first developed at the university and began selling in 1956.

UCLA Bruins: Their championship history doesn't just pertain to basketball. The school has a total of 119 championships in 20 sports, the second most in the country behind Stanford.

Akron Zips: Their nickname used to be the Zippers, which was suggested since in 1927 since it was the name of a popular rubber overshoe sold by Akron's B.F. Goodrich Company. The name was shortened to Zips in 1950.

Texas Longhorns: Alright, alright, alright. One of the school's most famous alumni, and avid supporter of the school's athletics, is Matthew McConaughey.

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.

Purdue Boilermakers: Did you know you can fly directly to the university? It has an airport on its campus, as it was the first university-owned airport in the U.S.

Yale Bulldogs: Yale is the oldest university in the tournament and fourth oldest university in the country, founded in 1701. Its original name was the "Collegiate School."

Murray State Racers: Murray State has one of the most romantic traditions in the country. Couples that met at the university will hang their shoes at the Shoe Tree on campus, as it's meant to bring "sole" mates good luck in their relationship.

San Francisco Dons: Did you know the Dons have a rich basketball history? They won back-to-back national championships in 1955-56, led by NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell.

Kentucky Wildcats: After missing the tournament last season, Kentucky is in for the 59th time, the most in Division I.

Saint Peter's Peacocks: The only Division I school named the peacocks, it was chosen as the mascot because it is "symbolic of the resurrection in the Catholic tradition."

South region

Arizona Wildcats: The Wildcats and head coach Tommy Lloyd would make history with a national championship, as no coach has ever won a national championship in his first year.

Wright State Raiders: The school is named after Orville and Wilbur Wright, who were behind the first successful airplane.

Bryant Bulldogs: Making their first tournament appearance in team history, Bryant has the nation's top scorer in Peter Kiss, who averages 25.1 points per game.

Seton Hall Pirates: If the Pirates do play Arizona in the second round, they will look for their first win against a No. 1 seed ever. They are 0-5 against them.

TCU Horned Frogs: Even though their official colors are purple and white, ever wonder why they sometimes have red on their uniforms and court? That's because horned frogs, which are actually horned lizards, will shoot blood out of their eyes to scare away predators.

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

UAB Blazers: UAB used to have a rooster and a Viking as a mascot, but decided in 1996 to go with a dragon.

Illinois Fighting Illini: If you love funny cat videos, you can thank Illinois, as the creators of YouTube went here.

Chattanooga Mocs: What is a Moc? It's a shortened name of "Moccasins," referring to the official state bird of Tennessee, the mockingbird.

The mascot of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
is "Scrappy," named after its legendary football coach A.C. "Scrappy" Moore. The mockingbird, the state bird of Tennessee, replaced previous mascots including an Indian.
The mascot of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is "Scrappy," named after its legendary football coach A.C. "Scrappy" Moore. The mockingbird, the state bird of Tennessee, replaced previous mascots including an Indian.

Colorado State Rams: Their live ram mascot is named CAM the Ram. Not only does it rhyme, but it's in reference to the school's old name: Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Michigan Wolverines: Despite having the most losses of any tournament team (14), they have won at least one game in the tournament in their last seven appearances.

Tennessee Volunteers: Despite once being 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.

Longwood Lancers: Any beginner's luck? Longwood will make its first NCAA Tournament in team history after becoming a Division I school in 2004.

Ohio State Buckeyes: The school has the largest undergrad enrollment of any school in the tournament, with 46,984 undergraduates as of fall 2020, according to U.S. News.

Loyola Ramblers fan Sister Jean looks on as the Ramblers receive the Missouri Valley Trophy after defeating the Drake Bulldogs in the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Enterprise Center.
Loyola Ramblers fan Sister Jean looks on as the Ramblers receive the Missouri Valley Trophy after defeating the Drake Bulldogs in the finals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Enterprise Center.

Loyola Chicago Ramblers: You can't say Loyola without thinking of their 102-year-old chaplain Sister Jean. But did you know she can hoop? She was on her high school basketball team from 1933-37.

Villanova Wildcats: Did you know they have a football team? You may not know that because it is an FCS program, and they are the only national champion winner since the tournament expanded in 1985 whose football team is currently not an FBS squad.

Delaware Blue Hens: If you've ever studied abroad, thank Delaware. They created the first study abroad program in 1923.

Midwest region

Kansas Jayhawks: The only coach with a losing record in Kansas' 124 year history is Dr. James Naismith, the same man who created the game of basketball.

Texas Southern Tigers: An HBCU, Texas Southern is one of six Texas schools in the tournament.

San Diego State Aztecs: If you think defense wins championships, San Diego State is the team for you. They only allow 57.7 points a game, the lowest in the tournament and second in the country behind North Texas.

Creighton Bluejays: Creighton is one of the six schools in the tournament that are part of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.

Iowa Hawkeyes: Iowa is one of 10 schools to have their nickname be the same as their state nickname.

Richmond Spiders: Hope you don't have arachnophobia, as they are the only college in the country with the Spiders nickname.

WebstUR is the mascot for the Richmond Spiders, the only spider mascot in the NCAA.
WebstUR is the mascot for the Richmond Spiders, the only spider mascot in the NCAA.

Providence Friars: Not only is it in the smallest state in the country in Rhode Island, but it has one of the smallest undergraduate enrollments, which is 4,816 as of fall 2020.

South Dakota State Jackrabbits: Owners of the nation's longest active win streak of 21, the Jackrabbits join Murray State as the only teams with 30 wins entering the tournament.

LSU Tigers: While many Division I schools go by tigers, LSU is the only one with an actual one on its campus.

Iowa State Cyclones: If you love art, this school is home to the largest public art collection in the United States, with over 2,500 pieces.

Wisconsin Badgers: If the Badgers make a deep tournament run, expect things to get crazy in Madison. The school is the top party school in the tournament and third in the country, according to Niche.

Colgate Raiders: 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.

Southern Cal Trojans: Athletes at this school just know how to succeed. They've had a gold medal winner at every Summer Olympics since 1912.

Miami Hurricanes: Even though they're the Hurricanes, their mascot is an ibis because urban legend says they are "the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane and the first to reappear after the storm."

Auburn Tigers: The school has an annual tradition called "Hey Day," when all students wear name tags and say "hey" to everyone they walk past.

Jacksonville State Gamecocks: The Gamecocks are the only team in the tournament from a one-bid conference that didn't win their conference tournament, because conference tournament champion Bellarmine isn't allowed in because they are in the Division I transition period.

Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: March Madness: One fun fact about each men's NCAA Tournament school