Most people coming in thought that the ACC was hands down the best conference in the country, but after the last two weeks that has been debunked. Sure, North Carolina is in the Final Four and yes they are probably the favorites to win it all, but the rest of the ACC has been a miserable failure.
Both of these conferences exceeded expectations in this tournament, especially the SEC. I still don’t think that the conference has a lot of depth past their top 4 or 5 teams, but those top 4 or 5 teams overperformed. If it weren’t for some questionable officiating Arkansas would have been in the Sweet Sixteen also. The Big Ten has nobody in the Final Four, but I did not see any of the Big Ten teams making it out of the first weekend, and I was WRONG!
There is an extensive list of teams that deserve to be mentioned here, but the two that stood out to me were Xavier and Oregon. The Musketeers lost their point guard early in the season and because of numerous other injuries suffered a six-game losing streak at the end of the season. They snuck in the tournament after a Big East tournament upset over the Butler Bulldogs and once they got in, they did some damage. They blew past Maryland and Florida State and upset Arizona in a classic battle. The Musketeers tournament run ended in the Elite Eight when they ran into a Gonzaga team that was on fire.
Oregon also suffered a significant injury in the Pac 12 Tournament and looked sure to be a one or two and done team in this tournament. They struggled past Rhode Island and Michigan before shocking Kansas in Kansas to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1939, and don’t be surprised if they give North Carolina all they can handle.
This is the only region where all four of the top seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, and North Carolina and Kentucky finished the region up with a classic that sent the Heels to yet another final four.
No way should Minnesota been a five seed and Wisconsin should not have been seeded eight. Villanova had to pay the price which is a shame because they were the defending champions and to have to play a team in the second round that should have been seeded fifth was a joke.
All year all we heard was that the Bulldogs didn’t deserve respect because they didn’t play anybody. Will they proved all of those naysayers wrong by advancing to the Final Four! If they shoot the ball like they did against Xavier Saturday, nobody will beat them.
The best players in the world no doubt are in the NBA, but there is nothing like the excitement of the NCAA tournament, The only time the NBA is even comparable is when there is a game seven of a playoff series.
North Carolina and Gonzaga have to be the favorites to meet in the final, but the way South Carolina and Oregon have played makes this anybody’s tournament.
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