By Kevin Kietzman
Let’s get the obvious out of the way right from the jump here, the Kansas Jayhawks are on fire.
KU is the number one seed in the entire NCAA tournament. They look like it, they play like it and everyone knows it. In fact, the only concern I have for KU at this point is the possibility that being from the Big 12 has once again made them look a smidge better than they really are. But the performance against UCONN quiets that theory significantly.
The Big 12 has three teams still dancing, all having played to their seed. So there is no back slapping, whoop-whooping over the mighty Big 12. The league has been a disappointment in the tourney again, but the remaining teams can make the league look great. Meanwhile, the ACC has a record 6 teams in the Sweet 16. I called this at the beginning of the Madness and we’ve talked about it for two months on Between the Lines. The ACC is the best league in hoops, and it isn’t close.
But what I really notice about March Madness is one of the strangest things in all of sports. Is there anything more predictable, yet filled with wild Cinderella moments, than the NCAA Tourney?
Think about it. You get your kicks from Stephen F. Austin just boggling your mind with their precision and passion and great stories. Northern Iowa tosses in a half court bomb at the buzzer. And Middle Tennessee... well… Middle Tennessee took out Michigan State in one of the most shocking upsets ever.
That was fun. Now THAT kind of fun is over. This is nearly a scratch field at this point with all 16 teams fitting into two distinct categories.
Category 1: You have played to your seed.
The South and the West are seeds 1-4. All the hand wringing over the committee being dopey and here we have a couple regions that have all four faves remaining. All four number one seeds are alive, too. Three of the four number one seeds are playing 4 seeds. So much for Cinderella.
Category 2: You are a name program playing well now
This is where Syracuse, Gonzaga, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Indiana fit. They all beat slightly higher seeds (or not if they caught a break) and made the Sweet 16. But there is no real surprise as most of these teams have done this before. Up and down the board, we now have teams that have been there, done that. Those that haven’t like Miami and ISU are high seeds this year that have only met expectations so fare. And for a tournament known for surprises, there are none left in this field. Cinderella got all dolled up and got dumped at the curb well before midnight.
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