A 16 beating a 1 is never going to happen ... right?

Green beer, Tom Izzo, selection committee conspiracy theories, and the No. 1 seeds beating the 16-seeds, these are the things we can count on in March.

Of course, every year we also ask the same question: Is this the year? That question, though, has perhaps never been posed with more hope than in 2016.

Madness arrived early in the 2015-16 college basketball this season -- back when Western Illinois topped Wisconsin on the first day of the season -- and never let go. The top 10 ranked teams have lost a combined 80 games and the four No. 1 seeds have lost a combined 23 games, both of which are the most all-time.

Surely, with such upheaval all season long, a 16-seed upsetting a 1-seed is destined this March, right?

At the risk of being a buzzkill, not so fast.

"The whole thing of 'being due,' I don't believe in that," Texas coach Shaka Smart said. "I don't think it works that way. It's like me saying I played roulette for an hour, on the same number for an hour and I haven't won, so I must be closer to winning. Every game has nothing to do with the others. In general, there's probably less separation but that doesn't guarantee it will happen."

No doubt the gap is dwindling. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, four games between the 16-seeds and 1-seeds have been decided by single digits over the past four years. There were none in the 13 years prior.

Plus, of course, a 15-seed beating a 2-seed has become, if not commonplace, less astounding. It's happened three times in the past four years, after four 15-seed wins in the first 108 games.

But the upheaval of this season hasn't been limited to just the regular season. Top seeds won just 10 of the 21 conference tournament finals played during Champ Week, leaving us with four 16-seeds that might not exactly have what it takes to do the impossible.

ESPN Stats & Information reports that the average RPI of this year's lowest seeds is 201.3. Only one other time since 1994, when the RPI first was tracked, have the four 16s had a higher average RPI, and that was in 2004.

That year the No. 1 seeds won by an average of 25 points per game.

"I could see it happening," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "But are we close? I'm not sure."

Neither, believe it or not, are Pete Carril and Popeye Jones.

Two men whose names have become synonymous with near miracles of March are no Miami Dolphins circa 1972. Each would like nothing more than to see a team do what they could not -- knock off a No. 1 seed. When each left the court in their respective games, in fact, they figured it was just a matter of time.

Except time has marched on -- 27 years since Carril's Princeton team came within one shot of upsetting Georgetown, and 26 for Jones, who single-handedly pushed his Murray State team to a near upset of Michigan State in overtime. No one has come as close since.

"I left the arena thinking it would happen soon," said Jones, now an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers. "Now I wonder if it's harder today."

In 1990, as Murray State marched through the Ohio Valley Conference, Jones didn't know much about mighty Michigan State. This was pre-social media and also still in the infancy of the 64-team field. The bracket expanded only in 1985.

Cocooned by ignorance, he and the Racers strolled into their first-round meeting against the Spartans in Knoxville, Tennessee, with the same attitude they had in their 29 games prior.

"We had no clue that we weren't supposed to win," Jones said. "I didn't know who [Spartans guard] Steve Smith was. I didn't care."

Teams today, Jones said, don't have the luxury of ignorance.

"There's so much hype about the really good teams," he said. "You hear about them all year. You hear who the best players are, the players of the year. It gets in your head and those top teams can seem almost larger than life. I think maybe that makes it harder."

Carril and his Princeton team didn't have the gift of ignorance in 1989. There was no ignoring Georgetown and Alonzo Mourning, the prohibitive favorite to win the national championship from the day the season started.

Still, Carril allowed the Tigers to celebrate making the field for two days, and then he set about telling them how they could win. And he believed it.

"By then, I'd been coaching for some 35 years and since the day I started, I always prepared my team to win," he said. "So I let them have their pizza party and then I got them to understand that we were going to win this game."

But Carril questions whether he could build the same case today. Now 85 years old and still a regular around the Princeton campus, Carril keeps his ear to the ground and is wise to the changes in the college game.

And he believes the difference between a 16-seed's chances today versus his Princeton team in 1989 is a matter of simple math: 15 seconds.

That's how much longer Princeton had on the shot clock.

"The shot clock," he said, "changes everything."

NCAA officials reduced the shot clock from 35 seconds to 30 this year, speeding up the game, upping the number of possessions for each team and, at least in Carril's opinion, robbing lower-seeded teams of the most powerful weapon in their arsenal.

Georgetown averaged 80 points in 1989. Against Princeton, the Hoyas scored just 50.

"The No. 1 team has an edge in rebounding, quickness, shooting and ability, so how can you stay in the game?" he said. "You can't play a traditional game. You have to find a way to change those advantages into disadvantages. So, for example, with their quickness, you might make them anxious if you don't shoot quickly. You can use the clock to shorten the game, but now you can't do that so easily."

Not that Carril wants to be right.

That Georgetown game turned him into something of a patron saint of the little guys, and he roots hard for the underdog.

"When people say something can't be done, I call that the Columbus feeling," he said. "How many times did people tell Christopher Columbus the world was not round? But that belief he had, that was powerful. We just need a few more Columbuses around."