Texans aside, Houston finds itself second on this all-time Super Bowl list

Lady Gaga's album sales skyrocketed. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images. Composite by Brandon Strange

The NFL, and most everybody outside of Green Bay, Wisc. and Buffalo, N.Y., the NFL's two smallest markets, got their wish:

A dream matchup between Tampa Bay vs. Kansas City, and the greatest quarterback ever Tom Brady, vs. the greatest now Patrick Mahomes, in Super Bowl LV, which should be played in Las Vegas (LV) but will settle for Tampa, the first time a team will play the Super Bowl in its home stadium.

Records are made to be shattered, and plenty should fall Feb. 8. For sure Super Bowl LV will have the smallest in-stadium attendance, only 22,000 fans, including 7,500 invited vaccinated health care workers. The current low-water mark is 61,946 for the first Super Bowl in 1967, when the game wasn't even called the Super Bowl. It was officially the "AFL-NFL Championship Game." It didn't become the "Super Bowl" until 1970.

LV could become the highest-rated and most-watched (they're different measurements) Super Bowl ever. The current champ for highest-rated was Super Bowl XVI, when San Francisco defeated Cincinnati and pulled a 49.1 Nielsen number in 1982. So much for that nonsense that Super Bowls, World Series and NBA Finals need Top 10 market teams to draw a rating.

The most-watched honor goes to Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, when 114 million viewers watched the Patriots pull a rabbit out of their hat to beat the Seahawks on a last-minute interception.

Fun facts to know and share about the Super Bowl's dominance in U.S. television history. Twenty-nine of the 30 most-watched shows ever have been Super Bowls. The only non-Super Bowl show to sneak into the Top 30 was the M*A*S*H finale in1983. It ranks No. 9 all-time with 105 million viewers.

Here's a TV trivia question you won't get, but you'll say "Oh, yeah" when you find out the answer: what single televised sports event, not counting Super Bowls, had the most viewers ever?

Ready? It was the ladies figure skating finals of the 1994 Winter Olympics, featuring Nancy Kerrigan and America's Sweetheart Tonya Harding. For the record, the gold medal went to Oksana Baiul of Russia. Kerrigan got the silver and Chen Lu of China grabbed bronze. Harding didn't earn a medal after suffering a devastating broken shoelace.

Super Bowl LV will air on CBS with Jim Nantz and Tony Romo in the booth. Those two are the best, except for Nantz.

Now for LV's halftime show, starring The Weeknd. Will The Weeknd ride the game's coattails and set viewing records, too? Super Bowl halftime shows have their own ratings and sometimes they don't parallel the game's viewership.

The all-time halftime champ is Katy Perry with Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot from the 2015 Super Bowl. More than 120 million fans, more fans than watched the actual game, watched Perry ride a 16-foot robot lion while singing her hit "Roar."

Second place goes to Lady Gaga from right here in Houston. About 117 million people watched her jump off the roof of NRG Stadium – seemingly. It was pre-recorded magic.

Weird fact: Super Bowl halftime acts do not get paid for their performance. So why do they do it? The Super Bowl airs in 180 countries and the acts usually enjoy a spike in album and concert ticket sales. Lady Gaga's album sales skyrocketed 1,000 percent after her halftime show. Other top half time shows: Coldplay with Beyonce and Bruno Mars with 115 million viewers in 2016, Bruno Mars with the Red Hot Chili Peppers with 114 million viewers in 2014, and Madonna with Cee Lo Green LMFAO, M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj with 113 million viewers in 2012.

So you know, Bruno Mars, star of two of the top-rated halftime shows in history, took his stage name from pro wrestling legend Bruno Sammartino. Apparently when he was 2 years old, Mars resembled the "Abruzzi Strongboy" and his father nicknamed him Bruno.

Not every artist jumps at the chance to play the Super Bowl. Last year, Pink, Rihanna and Cardi B said no thanks. All three protested the NFL's treatment of Colin Kaepernick and the league's lack of support for social issues. Instead, the NFL invited Jennifer Lopez and Shakira who tore it up in one of the more acclaimed halftime shows. It's not like Pink needed the exposure. Her 2019 tour raked in $215 million, finishing as the top moneymaking worldwide jaunt.

The Weeknd's "After Hours Tour" is scheduled to stop at Toyota Center on July 22. Supporting acts are Sabrina Claudio and Don Toliver. Tickets ranging from $30 to $450 are on sale now at

After 54 Super Bowl halftime shows, who's left that hasn't already played "The Big Game," as businesses like Gallery Furniture are obligated to call the Super Bowl? If you want to use "Super Bowl" in a promotion, you must pay the NFL. It's so silly. I'm waiting for Progressive Insurance to buy the word "Christmas" and charge Mariah Carey to sing "All I Want For Christmas is You."

Who would be your choice to play the 2022 Super Bowl?

The Who, Stones, McCartney, Springsteen, U2 and most heavyweight classic rock acts have had their turn.

The hottest "current" acts who've never done the Super Bowl include Taylor Swift, Drake, Harry Styles, BTS, Luke Combs, Billie Eilish and the judges from NBC's The Voice: Blake Shelton, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, etc.

Historic, still-active superstars who've never played the Super Bowl include Garth Brooks (156 million albums sold in the U.S.), the Eagles (120 million), Billy Joel (85 million), Elton John (79 million), and AC/DC (75 million).

The top-selling female artists of all-time are Barbra Streisand (69 million albums) and Mariah Carey (66 million), neither with a Super Bowl halftime on their resume.

Carey did sing the national anthem in 2002, however. In 1977, one time only, the national anthem was not performed before the Super Bowl. Vicki Carr sang "America the Beautiful."

The only performers to double-double the national anthem and halftime show are Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

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Houston plays Northern Kentucky on Thursday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

After winning the American Athletic Conference regular-season championship, Houston is heading back to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament as a No. 1 seed.

The Cougars finished 31-3 overall and had a 17-1 record against conference opponents.

Even though they finished the season with a loss to Memphis, this team is still positioned to make another deep run thanks to some key players and head coach Kelvin Sampson’s excellent system.

Marcus Sasser’s injury status

Senior guard Marcus Sasser had his best season as a Cougar and was named to the Associated Press All-America First Team earlier this week.

The 22-year-old was Houston’s leading scorer averaging a team-high 17.1 points per game and led the team in field goals made, 3-pointers and free throws this season.

Sasser didn’t play in the final game of AAC tournament due to a groin injury he suffered during the team's previous outing against Cincinnati. His absence subsequently factored into Houston losing to Memphis. Without their leading scorer, the Cougars couldn’t seem to find any offensive rhythm, which led Memphis to take control of the game early on and never look back.

Sasser could have played, but was held out for precautionary reasons, so he could have more time to heal and prepare himself for the NCAA Tournament. The overall game was meaningless, for Houston would have been a No.1 seed if they won or lost to Memphis.

The Cougars know they can not win a championship without their star player, so limiting his action early on may be a way to save Sasser for the long haul.

The senior guard did practice on Wednesday but was not at full strength, according to reports. Sasser seemed optimistic whether or not he would be able to play in the Cougars first NCAA Tournament game.

“If I can play, I can play. Even through pain” Sasser said when asked if he could play. “You never know when your last game is. I'm not trying to miss the game for nothing. For the most part, if I can go, I'm going to go.”

As it currently stands, there has been no decision on whether Sasser will play against No. 16 Northern Kentucky. If he were to miss this game, it wouldn’t be detrimental, as the Cougars have a deep roster and can count on others to step up.

“Whether Marcus is here or not, we're still Houston.” coach Sampson said.

The rise of Jarace Walker

Freshman Jarace Walker came to Houston looking to be challenged and because he wanted to learn, develop and become a part of something bigger.

He has more than fulfilled these goals by showcasing his skills multiple times throughout the course of the season.

Walker is a perfect fit on this team as he is defensive-minded, can create his own shots, and excels at securing rebounds.

The 19-year-old has the potential to be one of the best players in this tournament and can take over a game at a moment's notice.

Walker scored double-digit points in half of the games he played, and was one of the nation's best defenders throughout the season.

If Sasser is to miss the first game against Northern Kentucky, look for Walker to become the primary scoring option and lead Houston past the Norse with ease.

Kelvin Sampson’s system

When head coach Kelvin Sampson took over, Houston basketball was an afterthought at best. Since then, he built this program from the ground up, and is on the verge of potentially leading his squad back to the Final Four and beyond.

Coach Sampson has taken the Cougars to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances and has crafted a winning formula that gets the most out of his players every year.

His system works by instilling a defensive first mindset into his players and making sure everyone knows their roles on the team. Take Jamal Shed, J’Wan Roberts and Tramon Mark as examples. All three of them started out as bench players and earned their spots as starters by playing with heart, hustle and becoming great defenders on the court.

Shed has become a great point guard and led the team in both assists and steals this season. Mark is a solid 3-and-D player and Roberts led the team in rebounds.

Coach Sampson always gets the most out of his guys on defense, which makes Houston one of the best teams in the nation.

Looking Ahead

As it currently stands, Houston is the betting favorite (6-1) to win the NCAA Tournament according to Caesars Sportsbook and seem to have a favorable bracket.

As previously mentioned, Houston opens with Northern Kentucky and should win that matchup with ease. They would then face either Auburn or Iowa in the next round.

The Cougars should be favored in those games and could see teams such as Miami or Indiana in the Sweet 16. When the Elite Eight rolls around, there is potential for a Texas-sized matchup between the Cougars and either Texas A&M or UT, which would be a spectacle in of its own.

Houston is a No.1 seed for a reason, they are one of the best teams in the nation and have all the necessary skills to go back to the Final Four and potentially win their first men’s basketball championship.

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