College basketball teams that call themselves Wildcats have made more appearances in the history of the NCAA Tournament than any other mascot name.
Since the start of the tournament in 1939, 186 Wildcats teams have played in the event. The Tigers are a distance second with 128 trips to the tournament. There are 348 Division I programs that were eligible for this year’s event, and nine of those play as Wildcats. Five are in the field in this year’s tournament, but unfortunately only two made it into the Sweet 16, which begins Thursday.
The two remaining Wildcats teams are Kentucky and Arizona.
Kentucky made its 57th NCAA Tournament appearance this year, the most by any team. The Wildcats have eight titles to their credit, along with four runner-up finishes in 17 Final Four visits. During this year’s opening weekend, Kentucky defeated Northern Kentucky 79-70 on Friday and edged Wichita State 65-62 on Sunday.
Arizona is in the tournament for the 34th time. The Wildcats won the national crown in 1997 and had a runner-up finish in 2001. This year, they defeated North Dakota 100-82 and St. Mary’s 69-60 on Saturday.
Defending national champion Villanova made its 37th trip to the tournament, but it didn’t make it past the second round, losing 79-73 to Wisconsin. In addition to last year’s title, Villanova won the 1985 crown, upsetting heavily favored Georgetown in the championship game in Lexington, Kentucky.
The Wildcats also had a runner-up finish to UCLA in 1971. This year’s ouster marked the third time in their past four trips to the tournament that they lost in the second round when they were either a first or second seed.
Kansas State is a regular visitor to the tournament with this year marking its 28th trip. While having never won a national title, the Wildcats they did have a runner-up finish to Kentucky in 1951. This year, after beating Wake Forest 95-88 in first-round play, the Wildcats were eliminated 75-61 by Cincinnati.
The final Wildcats team in the field this year was Northwestern, which made its first ever trip to the tournament. Northwestern was the final Power 5 conference program to make the field in the 79th year of the event.
The first NCAA Tournament was played on Northwestern’s campus in Evanston, Illinois, in 1939. The Wildcats defeated Vanderbilt 68-66 in this year’s opening round but lost 79-73 to Gonzaga in the second round.
The four Wildcats squads that failed to make the 2017 tournament are Bethune-Cookman, Weber State, Davidson and New Hampshire. Weber State has made 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, and Davidson has 13, while Bethune-Cookman and New Hampshire have never qualified.
In case you were wondering, this year’s draw included four teams with Eagles as their mascot: North Carolina Central, Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast and Marquette. There were also two Bulldogs but no Georgia. This year’s Bulldogs were Butler and Gonzaga.
There were two Tigers (Princeton and Texas Southern), two Gamecocks (Jacksonville State and South Carolina), two Mountaineers (Mt. St. Mary’s and West Virginia) and two Trojans (Troy and Southern Cal).
The Wildcats are tied with the Bruins for most NCAA crowns with 11, but three teams are included among their titles while the Bruins’ total belongs only to UCLA.
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