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The mental_floss Guide to the NCAA Tournament: The Midwest

We're going region by region, giving you one fun fact about each team in the tournament. Last up, the Midwest!

(1) North Carolina

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Yearning to learn more about your kidneys? Head to the University of North Carolina’s Carl W. Gottschalk Collection. The 12,400-item collection houses legendary medical professor Gottschalk’s passion: historical items related to the study of kidneys. Gottschalk’s medical research focused on the kidneys, and throughout his life he managed to collect texts, engravings, woodcuts, and other relics on the subject that dated back to the 16th century.

(16) Vermont
Vermont shares an uncommon nickname with Western Carolina University — the Catamounts. Another name for a wild cat, the catamount is the state animal and appears on the back of the 1927 Vermont commemorative half-dollar.

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(8) Creighton
The Creightones are a men's a cappella group at Creighton.

(9) Alabama
In 2010, an Alabama staffer was fired for playing “Take the Money and Run” on the football stadium PA system while Cam Newton and Auburn warmed up.
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(5) Temple
You know who met while attending Temple? Hall and Oates.

(12) South Florida
South Florida was the southernmost public university in the state when it was founded in 1956. Some of the other proposed names for the school included Citrus State University, Sunshine State University, and the University of the Western Hemisphere.
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(4) Michigan
All three crew members aboard the 1971 Apollo 15 mission to the moon had ties to the University of Michigan. They left a charter for a U of M Alumni Association branch on the lunar surface.

(13) Ohio
Ohio University has appeared on the Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s top party school 12 times since 1997 – including #1 on the most recent edition.
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(6) San Diego State
San Diego State established the first Women’s Studies department in the United States in 1970. The department granted its first degrees in the mid-1980s.

(11) North Carolina State
In North Carolina State’s “Krispy Kreme Challenge,” students meet at the Bell Tower on campus, run 2.5 miles to the Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back to the Bell Tower. This feat must be accomplished in one hour.
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(3) Georgetown
Georgetown is the setting of St. Elmo’s Fire, but the on-campus scenes of the 1985 Brat Pack film were filmed at the University of Maryland. Georgetown administrators reportedly wouldn’t allow Joel Schumacher to shoot on campus because they didn’t condone premarital sex. It should be noted that The Exorcist was shot in Georgetown in 1973.

(14) Belmont
Belmont is located in Nashville. The university owns and operates its own recording studios, which are used both by students and for profit. One, the well-known Ocean Way Nashville, has been utilized by artists that range (alphabetically and style-wise) from Alan Jackson to Yo-Yo Ma.
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(7) St. Mary's
In 1959, 22 students stuffed themselves in a phone booth and were featured in LIFE magazine. According to the school's director of media relations, the photo "evolved from a late 1950s international fad of telephone booth stuffings on college campuses."

(10) Purdue
Purdue would dominate a basketball game played on the moon. Twenty-two Purdue graduates, including Neil Armstrong, have been selected for space travel, and Purdue alumni have flown on nearly 40 percent of all human U.S. space flights.
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(2) Kansas
Though Dr. James Naismith invented basketball, he’s the only KU basketball coach in history with a losing record.

(15) Detroit
The University of Detroit-Mercy purchased a historic Detroit firehouse as a facility to hold free legal clinics.

(Eliminated in Round One) California
Cal boasts many famous alumni, including cartoonist Rube Goldberg, who graduated with a College of Mining degree in 1904. Goldberg designed sewers in San Francisco and worked as a sports cartoonist at the San Francisco Examiner before moving to New York in 1907.

(Eliminated in Round One) Lamar
Lamar originated as South Park Junior College in 1923. South Park graduate Otho Plummer won a contest to rename the school in 1932. His winning suggestion honored Mirabeau B. Lamar, the second president of the Republic of Texas.

See Also...

The mental_floss Guide to the NCAA Tournament: The West, The South, The East

Your esteemed fact-finding crew: Jamie Spatola, Stacy Conradt, Ethan Trex, Colin Perkins, Scott Allen and Meg Evans. Enjoy the Tournament!

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Animals
Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London
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Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


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Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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