A NEW CHAMPION: With North Carolina losing on Sunday, there will be a new champion crowned in Indianapolis.
BUT HOW NEW WILL THEY REALLY BE?? Who knows? UConn and Duke are the two "top" teams in the dance and they are still around. UConn won the title two years ago....and Duke won it a few years before that. Aside from that, everyone else is a bunch of newbies.
CLARK KELLOGG COULD BE RIGHT: Ya know, most people laughed at Clark Kellogg when he uttered on CBS that "all four #1 seeds could get to the Final Four". Yeah, we all know it's never happened before. Well, neither has a team come back from down 0-3 in the ALCS....but that streak ended. Why not this one?? In a tournament filled with "upsets" and "Cinderellas".....this also could be the tournament where the Final Four ends up being all #1 seeds. Sure, they all have tough roads ahead....but it is feasable that they all come out of their regions. And the fact that we've had all these upsets lends credence to that theory. Look at UConn. While Washington and the winner of the other game will be tough, they don't have to face Tennessee, North Carolina, Illinois or Michigan State. The highest seeded team they'll face in this region will be Washington....the #5 seed who's next on their menu.
OR NO #1 SEEDS COULD MAKE THE FINAL FOUR: Let's just say that Duke went from having the easiest road of the #1 seeds to possibly having the toughest. LSU is a tough matchup for them....and Texas or West Virginia can pop them in the Elite 8. UConn hasn't been top notch either....and Washington can expose them. Villanova has a hungry and determined Boston College coming up....and in the bottom of that bracket lies Florida, arguably the team who's played the best in this tournament thus far. And in Oakland, Memphis still has to deal with the Gonzaga/UCLA winner if they get past Bradley.
MID MAJOR MADNESS: Well, the Missouri Valley Conference has Wichita State and Bradley in the Sweet 16. Joining them isGeorge Mason from the Colonial. Add them to Memphis [of Conference USA] and Gonzaga [of the West Coast Conference] and you have 5 of the 16 teams remaining coming from non-"BCS" leagues.
THE TEXAS TRIO: Don't sleep on Texas! They could do the unimaginable tri-fecta. They could hold the NCAA basketball, football and baseball championships at the same time! Texas won the 2005 College World Series....and won the NCAA National Championship in football. A tournament win here would be historic!
THE FOUR REPEATS: Only Duke, Washington, West Virginia and Villanova were in the Sweet 16 last year and this year. Only West Virginia advanced past the Sweet 16 a year ago.
NON-CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS: Of the 16 teams remaining.....11 earned at large bids. Only Florida, Duke, Memphis, Gonzaga and UCLA won their conference tournaments. In fact, teams that won their conference tournament championships are a combined 15-26....while at-large teams are 34-23.
NO BIG TEN: The #1 rated conference in the RPI was a combined 2-6 in the NCAA tournament...with no teams still alive.
NO BLOWOUTS: This is how great a tournament this has been. Sure, we get close calls and upsets in every tournament. But we also get quite a few blowouts...especially by those #1 and #2 seeds in the 1st or 2nd rounds. Um, not so this year. There has been only four games that were decided by more than 20 points: UCLA beat Belmont by 34...Florida beat South Alabama by 26...Florida beat Wis-Milwaukee by 22...Texas beat NC State by 21. If you notice, there were no #1s on this list. There are Florida [twice] and the only #2 seeds still remaining.
GREAT STATE DEBATE: So, what state is best represented?? North Carolina [Duke], Louisiana [LSU], West Virginia [WVU], Texas [UT], Tennessee [Memphis], Illinois [Bradley], California [UCLA], Connecticut [UConn], Kansas [WichitaState], Pennsylvania [Villanova], Massachusetts [Boston College] and Florida [UF] each have one school represented. So where is the beef? Try Washington. Both the city and state. The State of Washington [UW and Gonzaga] has two teams left. And the city of Washington....the DC...has two teams left [George Mason and Georgetown]. Oh, sure, technically G-Mason is in Virginia....but it lies in the DC suburbs. Indiana...the site of the Final Four...has zero teams represented.
BUT, THE HOME COURT ADVANTAGE??: Well, George Mason will be playing close to home in Washington, DC. Both Duke and LSU should be well represented in Atlanta. And the West Virginia and Texas contingent should be there, too. Out in Oakland, well, UCLA is in state....so they should draw better than anyone. In the Minneapolis Bracket....well, I guess Georgetown is the closest school. Odd, since all schools in this bracket [Nova, BC, Florida, G'town] are east coast schools with three of them in the Atlantic/Northeast section of our nation.
DOME SWEET DOME: Well, the Final Four will always be held in a dome....but two of these regional finals will be held in domes. The Metrodome and the Georgia Dome will host this weekend. That is a big factor into how teams play. In Minneapolis, Georgetown and Villanova are no strangers in playing in Syracuse's Carrier Dome [neither is BC for that matter]. In Atlanta, well Duke has seen it's share of domes from past tournaments....and LSU has been to SEC tournaments in Atlanta. Also, Wext Virginia has dealt with the Carrier Dome. How about Texas?? And, does it really matter??
WASHINGTON: Think about this! Either George Mason or Wichita State will be in the Elite 8.....one step away from the Final Four. They'll play against each other in a rematch of one of the best games during Bracket Busters weekend [maybe you'll pay more attention to that next year?]. Mason won in Wichita on a buzzer beating three pointer.
ATLANTA: Think about this! The last time Atlanta hosted the regional finals , Duke was in it. They beat Illinois and Xavier in route to getting beat by.....UConn....in the Final Four.
MINNEAPOLIS: Think about this! Three of the four teams in this bracket are basically Big East teams. G'town and Villanova are Big East members, while Boston College is just one year into the ACC. Most of the guys on BC basically came up thru the Big East wars.
OAKLAND: Think about this! Memphis, Bradley, UCLA or Gonzaga will be in the Final Four. One of those teams has to be. Only UCLA isn't technically a mid-major.