Day before the Dance: Tournament news and notes

MEMPHIS – We have descended upon Bluff City and are ready to get going in the 2024 NCAA Tournament. Today, sort of a news and notes column. But throughout the weekend, we’ll have written columns, stats, news to know, CATS! postgame podcasts, and perhaps even a pop-up podcast or two along the way.

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll upload different content on all our social media sites.

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the daily #230 | 3/21/2024 | Archives


Today, all eight teams in Memphis will hold press conferences starting at 10:20 a.m. for the early games and continuing to Longwood (2:50 for players, 3:05 for Coach Griff Aldrich) and Houston (3:35 for players, 3:50 for Kelvin Sampson).

Today’s practice sessions are open to the media and the public and follow the team’s availability. Practices begin at 11 a.m. and go through UH’s, which starts at 3:50 p.m. GoCoogs will cover it all and will have video on social and YouTube.

Friday, doors open to the public at 10:10 a.m. and 5:50 for the late session, featuring Nebraska and A&M and Longwood and Houston.

The 2008 NCAA Tournament was 15 iterations ago. It was the chalkiest Tournament in history, with all four #1 seeds advancing to the Final Four in San Antonio. Kansas beat UNC, and Memphis beat UCLA in the semifinals before the Jayhawks edged Memphis in overtime for the national title.

Since then, there has not been chalk like that. There’s only been one season when three #1 seeds made the Final Four (2015) and seven where just one top-seed won a region. In two other Tournaments, including last year, no #1 seed made the Final Four.

Here is how #1 seeds have done since 2008:

Since COVIDLast 10 YearsLast 14 YearsPRE-COVID
National Champs2/36/109/147/11
Made FF (%)3 (25%)14 (35%)18 (32.1%)15 (34.1%)
Lost Elite 8 (%)1 (8.3%)8 (20%)14 (25%)13 (29.5%)
Lost Sweet 16 (%)4 (33.3%)8 (20%)12 (21.4%)8 (18.2%)
Lost 1st Weekend (%)4 (33.3%)10 (25%)12 (21.4%)8 (18.2%)

Since COVID canceled the 2020 Tournament, one seeds have taken a beating early, but #1s have won 2/3. There are many more upsets in the three years since the pandemic (limited data, admittedly) than in the pre-COVID years. Teams have older rosters due to the COVID year, and talent is spread out more with the portal.

You should have expectations about this Houston team but realize, it’s not crazy for a #1 to bow out early on, especially since COVID. No matter the time frame in these last 15 years, it’s more common to bow out in the first three rounds than to make a Final Four.

I was in the Guy V. Lewis Development Center on Tuesday, and as all the media gathered to get their soundbites, I wandered over to watch Emanuel Sharp finish his shooting drills. He had a bad night in KC on Saturday (0/7 before hitting his last two shots). When I set up my camera, I saw something I’d never seen: brickfest.

And then, as quick as it came, Emanuel started burying them:

When he finished, I went over to talk to him as he sat, waiting to be interviewed by the scrum. He told me that sometimes he gets tired and bricks and doesn’t correct it immediately. Then he resets his mind, and there they go. He started the video 1/7, then hit 8/10, then 5/7, before going 10 for his last 10. The drill requires 9/10 to move to the next station (this was his last station).

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Lagniappe: Every game of Memphis’ 2008 season would be vacated except for one loss. Officially, in the record books, Memphis went 0-1 that season. I look forward to seeing their 0-1 banner at FedExForum this week.

Lagniappe 2: Today, I learned that FedExForum is one word, not two. I still think of it as the new arena that replaced the Pyramid, but Wikipedia says the Forum opened 20 years ago. Oops.

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