March Madness: On to the Sweet 16

Well, the Madness of March kicked off with a bang. It had everything we wait all year for: last second buzzer beaters, monumental upsets and dominating performances by some of the nation’s best.

What did we learn from this past weekend?

It was a weekend full of one shining moments for sure. I watched this one 100 times (and still do):

And then this one as well:

There were a lot more. Eran Ganot led No. 13 Hawaii on an amazing run. Back in my former life when I was a teacher, I also coached girls’ basketball. Ganot was on the boys team those years, and this kid could shoot like no other. I was sad to see his run come to an end.

That day for Hawaii would end with a 14 seed and a 15 seed winning as well, the first time in NCAA history that those three seeds won in the same day.

It doesn’t matter though. At the end of the day, the NCAA tourney is always about the superior teams.

THE ACC IS THE BEST CONFERENCE IN THE LAND

Six of seven teams in the Sweet 16? That’s absurd. With the original Big East now defunct, the ACC is officially the SEC of college hoops.

Every year, people will try to tell you how dominating the Big Ten-ish is or how the Pac-12 is stacked. Maybe their top end teams can hang, but the ACC is deep. Put it this way. The only ACC team that has lost fell to the reigning runner-up from last year, who happened to just take down a No. 2 seed in Xavier (although I never really had too much faith in that Xavier team to go far).

By the way, the reason that Wisconsin isn’t the reigning national champions? They lost to an ACC team.

Kentucky will always knock on the door, but does the SEC really have another threat? Arizona, Cal, UCLA, Oregon, Utah and Arizona State will go in cycles of domination, and maybe make a Final Four appearance here or there. The Big Ten-ish will always have Wisconsin, Michigan State and Indiana. But the ACC is ALWAYS represented by more than a handful of teams.

Duke, Carolina, The U, Virginia, Notre Dame and yes, my beloved Syracuse (who are probably the luckiest team standing) make up 38% of the Sweet 16. That’s silly.

THE BEST ARE THE BEST FOR A REASON

Of all the upsets this weekend, 12 of the 16 teams left are five seeds or higher. I mean my bracket was destroyed and blown up as much as the next person, but look at this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 8.35.19 AM

Six of my eight Elite Eight teams are still in tact, and three of my Final Four teams are as well. That’s not because I am good at this stuff. It’s because as I told you in my preview last week, the days of the little guys making exciting runs are done.

No. 6 Notre Dame, No. 7 Wisconsin, No. 10 Syracuse and No. 11 Gonzaga are all that represents the “lower” seeds left in the bracket. To break that down even further, if this Notre Dame team played anywhere else in the country, they’d probably be a five seed. As I’ve already mentioned Wisconsin is the reigning runner ups and got a lower seed than expected, primarily due to the absence of Frank Kaminsky. Syracuse, well they are just lucky to be here and they are playing like they have something to prove. And Gonzaga, why these guys aren’t automatically a three seed or higher at this point is just silly.

The point is, these four teams are good. They aren’t your surprise Butlers, or Davidsons, or George Masons or VCUs. All four of those “underdog” seeds are highly established programs that had “down” years that merited them lower seeds than they are normally capable of getting. Syracuse for example has the lowest seed it’s ever had in the history of the tournament, and that is a history that sees them making their 18th trip to the Sweet 16 this coming weekend.

So, onward we go to the Sweet 16, and I can only hope that my one Final Four team that has been eliminated is filled by Cuse. What a fantastic March Madness that would be.

 

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