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Mike Sorensen: How well do you know your NCAA tournament?

Published: Sunday, March 25 2012 10:19 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It seems like only yesterday that BYU was overcoming a 25-point deficit to beat Iona on the first day of the NCAA Tournament. But we're already down to the Final Four.

Here's a little NCAA quiz to see how well you've been paying attention to the first two weeks of play:

Which coach, who made it to the Sweet 16, really wanted the Utah basketball job last spring, only to get passed over for Larry Krystkowiak?

North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried was very interested in the open Ute job and several local boosters were behind him. When it became clear the U. wasn't interested in him, he appeared to be content to stay at his ESPN job. But when VCU's Shaka Smart, Wichita State's Gregg Marshall and others turned down the job, N.C. State turned to Gottfried last April. Gottfreid, who replaced current Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe, led his team to a 24-13 record, the final loss coming against Kansas 60-57 Friday night.

Which player, a lifelong Utah fan who really wanted to play for the Utes, started as a freshman in the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games for North Carolina?

Stilman White, the son of former East High and Snow College player Shannon White, would have loved to be recruited by the Utes, but never got a sniff from former coach Jim Boylen. After an outstanding senior season at Hoggard High in Wilmington, N.C., his best offer came from UNC-Wilmington in his hometown and BYU and Utah State also showed interest. The Tar Heels looked at him late in the recruiting process and he didn't commit until late last March. White didn't expect to play much this year, but when a couple of players went down with injuries, he became the backup point guard. Then, when starter Kendall Marshall broke his wrist, he was thrust into the starting role last week. White plans to go on an LDS mission this summer.

Which Elite Eight team played in the state of Utah this year and barely beat the local team?

That would be Baylor, which came to Provo in December and escaped with an 86-83 win over BYU in an exciting game that went down to the final seconds. The Cougars blew an eight-point second-half lead and had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but Brandon Davies 3-point try was blocked. The Bears lost to Kentucky Sunday.

Which mid-major team made the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the past five years, staking its claim as the best mid-major team in America?

No not, Gonzaga, but Xavier, which also made the Sweet 16 in 2008, 2009 and 2010. No team has made the final 16 for the last five years and only three other schools, Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan State, have made it four of five times like Xavier.

Why has every TV commentator and radio talking head suddenly started using the word "chalk" when talking about the better seeds beating the lower seeds in the NCAA Tournament? And what the heck does it mean?

Chalk is a gambling term, referring to the favored team or horse. You are betting the "chalk" when you bet on the favorite. It stems from the old days when betting lines required constant updates on a chalkboard and the favorites stayed on the chalkboard longer and weren't erased. So people who bet the chalk are conservative gamblers who go with the favorites. Or something like that.

Which former local coaching icon improved his record to 11-1 in first-round NCAA games this year?

Ex-Ute coach Rick Majerus, whose Saint Louis Bilikens upset Memphis in the first round. Majerus' only first-round NCAA loss in the past two decades came against Indiana in 2002.

True or false — Kentucky's John Calipari and Louisville's Rick Pitino, who meet in this week's Final Four, are longtime coaching buddies who get along famously in the Bluegrass State?

False. The two don't like each other much and had a public blowout last fall when Calipari called his program the only noteworthy program in the state and Pitino fired back, saying he ignores "jealous," malicious," ignorant," and "paranoid" people, implying Calipari was all four.

Which conference has proved to be the strongest in this year's NCAA Tournament?

You'd have to go with the SEC, which has a 9-3 record so far with one team (Kentucky) in the Final Four and another that was oh, so close (Florida) to making it. The Big East has the most wins with 14, but it also got nine teams in and has eight losses. Among the other major conferences, the Big 10 is 11-5, the Big 12 is 9-5, and the ACC finished 5-5. Oh, and the mighty Pac-12 finished 1-2.

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