Tipping Off: On to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament
- Author: Julie Sanders Mar 21, 2017,
Mar 21, 2017, 11:23
It's actually been a predictable tournament, which helps make victories by mid-major schools that much sweeter in other years. Oregon's margin of error is slim without forward Chris Boucher (ACL), but there is still Final Four potential here.
The only one headed to the Sweet 16, North Carolina, was also on the brink, down five with two and a half minutes to play before surviving/advancing against Arkansas.
Baylor, the top remaining seed in the East Region, saw its odds improve Monday to 16-1 after the Bears (26-7) knocked off Southern California in Tulsa, Okla.to earn a Sweet 16 matchup in NY against SC. The No. 8 seed Badgers knocked out defending champion and top overall seed Villanova on Saturday afternoon.
Purdue, Michigan and Wisconsin are all among the 16 teams still alive. "And it shows that if you're not doing one of those, that means you never really became a team".
According to NCAA.com, of the tens of millions of fan brackets filled out on NCAA.com, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo, only one bracket - filled out by a fan on Yahoo - managed to go 39-0, but Purdue's defeat of Iowa State on Saturday night spoiled that run. Duke couldn't get a stop in the second half in a loss to SC. No.7 SC is the only other team with worse than 40/1 odds. I think Wisconsin will top Baylor purely due to experience and it seeming like it may be the wrong place and wrong time for Baylor. If it weren't for a Big East Tournament win over Butler, Xavier sitting on their couch watching the Rounds of 64 and 32 would have been a very real possibility. West Virginia and Xavier have both been in the top 10 this season, but Arizona and Gonzaga might be the two best remaining teams.
Perimeter play is huge in the NCAA Tournament, and Oregon's tandem of wing Dillon Brooks and shooting guard Tyler Dorsey is as good as it gets. Trier is the difference here, and Arizona will get the best of Gonzaga this time.
But if you've been banking on the Bulldogs since then, they've been busting your bracket in a different way. Now comes a blue-blood rematch in the Sweet 16 against Kentucky; UCLA won 97-92 at Rupp Arena on December 3. Kentucky-UCLA is essentially a pick'em matchup at the sportsbooks.
"I know this (team) certainly is right there, should be considered with any that's ever played" at Gonzaga, Few said. Junior forward Justin Jackson, the seventh Tar Heel to score at least 600 points in a season under Williams, will look to get North Carolina rolling again.
Frank Mason III added 20 points for the top-seeded Jayhawks (30-4), who have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in nine of coach Bill Self's 14 seasons. They beat us. Nebraska beat us. I have Butler advancing to the Final Four over North Carolina and then Kentucky, due to them showing up in a big way against quality competition. Two straight years of placing three teams in the Sweet 16. And, this is one of my three Elite 8 matchups that is still intact, with Kansas facing MI. Duke began the tournament with the same odds as the Tar Heels, but Kansas looked like the country's best team over the first weekend of March Madness. Admittedly. The Blue Devils were the consensus preseason #1 with Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard returning, with Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum coming in, and they played to potential for all of four days all season, in NYC.