Look through these 16 bits of trivia—one fact for each team or school—and impress your friends with your knowledge of the NCAA Tournament's participants. Schools are listed by regional seed, starting with No. 1.
1. Syracuse University (private, founded in 1870) is the host school for the East Region finals—which will be played at the Carrier Dome on Syracuse's campus—but its basketball team, by NCAA Tournament rules, cannot play in a regional final that it's hosting. The Orange (28-4) play Vermont on Friday at 9:40 p.m. in Buffalo.
2. Both U.S. senators representing Kansas—Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts—graduated from Kansas State University (public, founded in 1863). The Wildcats (26-7) take on North Texas on Thursday at 2:50 p.m. in Oklahoma City.
3. The Cathedral of Learning, a 42-story Gothic tower in the heart of the campus of the University of Pittsburgh (public, founded in 1787), is the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere and second-tallest university building in the world. The tower houses many classrooms and departments. Oakland is the first-round opponent for the Panthers (24-8). The teams tip off at 2:55 p.m. on Friday in Milwaukee.
4. With more than 300 tree and shrub varieties, the campus at Vanderbilt University (private, founded in 1873) is designated as a national arboretum. The Commodores (24-8) square off against Murray State at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday in San Jose, Calif.
5. The famed high school basketball film Hoosiers was filmed partly at Hinkle Fieldhouse, the crown jewel of Butler University (private, founded in 1855). The Bulldogs (28-4) meet University of Texas–El Paso at 5 p.m. on Thursday in San Jose.
6. The highly successful basketball program at Xavier University (private, founded in 1831) is the only non-Bowl Championship Series school rated as one of the top 20 most valuable programs in the Division I hoops by Forbes. The Musketeers play Minnesota at 12:25 p.m. on Friday in Milwaukee.
7. Brigham Young University (private, founded in 1875) claimed the top spot as the popular university in America, according to U.S. News. The Cougars (29-5) will play Florida at 12:20 p.m. on Thursday in Oklahoma City.
8. In its first year of existence, Gonzaga University (private, founded in 1887) enrolled just 18 boys and young men. The school now enrolls more than 4,500 students. The Bulldogs (26-6) face off against Florida State at 7:10 p.m. in Buffalo on Friday.
10. The University of Florida (public, founded in 1853) is the birthplace of the popular sports drink Gatorade. Coach Billy Donovan's Gators finished 21-12.
11. The Cedar Creek Ecosystems Science Reserve, established by the University of Minnesota (public, founded in 1851), is called the birthplace of modern ecology. The Gophers, the Big Ten tournament runners-up, are 21-13.
12. Then known as Texas Western College, the University of Texas–El Paso men's basketball team made history in 1966, becoming the first-ever school to feature an all-black starting lineup in the NCAA Division I national championship game. Led by legendary coach Don Haskins, Texas Western defeated the mighty University of Kentucky for the title. UTEP lost its conference championship game this year but, thanks to its 26-6 record, received an at-large bid.
13. Murray State University (public, founded in 1922) was the first American university to use the residential college system, where each residential dormitory has its own colors, flags, constitutions, crests, and more. The Racers own one of the nation's best won-lost records at 30-4.
14. Michigan's Oakland University (public, founded in 1957) started as an affiliate of Michigan State University before claiming its independence in 1970. The Golden Grizzlies won the Summit League tournament with a 26-8 record.
15. University of North Texas (public, founded in 1890) started the first jazz studies program in the nation. The Mean Green will make their third NCAA Tournament appearance with a 24-8 record.
16. University of Vermont (public, founded in 1791) actually started as a private institution before gaining "quasi" public-private status in 1862. The Catamounts, who beat Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament in 2005, are 25-9.
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