Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up: NCAA Tournament

Well the Sweet 16 is all set and 2009 is not the year for the underdogs. Only one team (5th seed Purdue) beat a higher seed in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16. Also for the first time in the Tournament's history the top three seeds from each region made the 3rd round. Joining those 12 teams are two number 4 seed's, Gonzaga and Xavier, number 5 seed Purdue and number 12 seed Arizona.

Arizona went from being one of the bubble teams when this tournament started, one of the quarter of teams that still remain. The Wildcats lucked out a bit in their in their seeding. They faced an overrated Utah team in the first round, which could not match up with Arizona's shooting ability. Then lucked out when 13th seed Cleveland State upset 4th seed Wake Forrest in the first round, making the Wildcats the favorite to advance to the Sweet 16.

Purdue was the only 5th seed to survive the dreaded 5-12 upset by outlasting Northern Iowa 61-56. Purdue managed to hang-on in the second round and upset 4th seed Washington with a two point victory. Memphis and Pittsburgh survived close calls in the first round when they both came out of the locker room cold. Louisville, UNC and Pittsburgh all had tight 2nd round games but still showed that they were top quality teams. Michigan State and Duke each squeaked by their 2nd round games with 5 point victories. Of the number 1 and 2 seeds only Connecticut and Oklahoma put up back-to-back dominate games. Gonzaga had the play of the tournament to win their second game against Western Kentucky, by going to coast to coast for a lay-up with only 7 seconds on the clock.

While some people may be down on this tournament because it doesn't have the traditional underdog story that we've come to love during March Madness, it may turn out to be one of the better tournaments down the stretch. With so many top teams still in this tournament no one has an easy road to Detroit. There are no gimme match-ups here and we will likely see some 1's and 2's start to fall. These final 15 games to decide a national champion will prove who is the toughest, deepest and most talented team in the country.

Check back through-out the week as I preview each Sweet 16 match-up.

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