By: Cameron Redler
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is in the books, and if you’re unlike me, and your champion is still alive, congratulations (Curse you Michigan St!).
It was mostly a great weekend of games, personified greatly through Northern Iowa, who had the ultimate high when Paul Jesperson hit a half court buzzer beater to knock off the six seeded Texas Longhorns before facing the ultimate low when they promptly blew a 12 point lead with 35 seconds against Texas A&M. I’m still not sure how that happened.
For the most part though, and as per usual, the teams that pulled off great upsets couldn’t continue to keep the momentum rolling as most faced reality in their next match. I’m looking at Middle Tennessee, Hawaii, and Arkansas Little Rock. There will be one double-digit seed who enters the elite eight, but Gonzaga and Syracuse are hardly Cinderella stories.
A few key takeaways from the weekend:
- The ACC is the best conference, hands down. The Big 12 had a case in the regular season, but it’s clear as day now. Losing Baylor, Texas Tech, and West Virginia all to upset was painful for the Big 12, while the ACC owns seven of the remaining 18.
- The Pac 12 was extremely overrated. Oregon remains as the only team left standing after narrowly escaping St. Josephs. Arizona, Oregon State, Utah, Colorado, and Cal were all supremely over seeded (Though Cal fell on unfortunate luck).
- No shocker, but coaches win ballgames. Duke is still alive despite not having good big men, depth, or defense. Syracuse is still alive despite not even reaching 20 wins in the regular season. Look at the list of coaches still in alive: Self, Williams, Krzyzewski, Boeheim, Wright, Crean, Brey. These guys are greats. It’s a coaches’ game.
- The sweet 16 will be better than the elite eight. Indiana and UNC face off in what should be the best game of the sweet 16, but the Miami v. Villanova game excites me as well as Duke v. Oregon, and Texas A&M v. Oklahoma. The potential elite eight games, outside of Kansas v. Villanova don’t intrigue me as much. Not to say that they won’t be excellent, but the matchups in the earlier games this weekend excite me more.
My final four picks: Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
This should be a great weekend of college hoops, and with my own Spring break beginning Friday, I look forward to bingeing every game.