Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Reseeding the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16

The NCAA Tournament has always been crazy. Full of upsets, buzzer-beaters and Cinderellas. That's why it's called March Madness, right?

But doesn't this year seem especially, well, mad?

Sure, you have three No. 1 seeds left in the Sweet 16. But you also have a No. 9, a No. 12 and a No. 13.

And … a team called FGCU? As Dickie V would say, "Are you serious?''

The 15th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles are the story of the tournament after upsetting second-seeded Georgetown, then seventh-seeded San Diego State.

So either the NCAA Tournament selection committee did a lousy job with the seedings or parity really has become the staple of college hoops.

As we head into the round of 16, how about we reseed the remaining teams to try to make sense of which team might win the whole thing.

16. Florida Gulf Coast

I have to be honest, I didn't even know FG#@ or whatever they want to be called had a team until I saw them on an NCAA bracket. And I still can't tell you a whole heck of a lot other than they like to dunk and their coach is married to a model. Sorry, but the ride is over. Be sure to collect your belongings as you exit the vehicle.

15. La Salle

If it weren't for FGCU, La Salle would be the story of the tournament. The Explorers, a 13 seed, had to win a first-round game, then survive two two-point games to give them three wins in five days.

14. Wichita State

The Shockers shocked No. 1-seeded Gonzaga, which means either Wichita State is better than everyone thought or Gonzaga isn't as good as everyone thought. I think Gonzaga was vastly overrated, but the Shockers will be a tough out because they flat-out get after it on defense. They held both Pitt and Gonzaga to 35 percent shooting.

13. Oregon

The Ducks were grossly underseeded at No. 12. Too bad they are about to play the best team in the country next — Louisville.

12. Arizona

With a 5-5 record in the 10 games leading up to the tournament, Arizona is a bit of a surprise to still be alive. The Wildcats are living on borrowed time and now play one of the big boys — Ohio State.

11. Michigan State

Don't you get the feeling that you, me and three guys off the street could get to the Sweet 16 as long as Tom Izzo was our coach? The Spartans now will finally get a real team when they play Duke. If Keith Appling can go crazy, then maybe Izzo's bunch can pull off the upset.

10. Miami

Hurricanes fans griped about how Miami was the first team to win the ACC regular-season and conference tournament titles and not be a No. 1 seed. After UM struggled past Illinois, I question whether it should've been as high as a No. 2 seed. The Hurricanes are about to play a Marquette team that is tougher and meaner than any team they've seen so far.

9. Kansas

If you can figure out the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks, let me know. They played like dog food in their first game against Western Kentucky and for a good chunk of their second game against North Carolina. You just keep waiting for them to lose. I don't think you're going to have to wait much longer as they run into a hot Michigan team next.

8. Marquette

A lucky win against Davidson, then another close call against Butler. How are the Golden Eagles still alive? Here's the thing: They play a Miami team that they actually match up well against.

7. Syracuse

Whining Jim Boeheim has his 'Cuse team back in the running because of the things that always have the 'Cuse in the running: good defense, poise in tight situations and, yep, really sharp coaching. There isn't a team left that it can't beat.

6. Michigan

I didn't think much of Michigan coming into the tournament, but maybe that was because the Wolverines were getting knocked around in the Big Ten. In their first two games against non-Big Ten opponents, the Wolverines rolled. Unfortunately for Michigan, if it keeps winning, it is going to run into one of the other Big Ten teams.

5. Indiana

I'm still trying to figure out what to make of the Hoosiers' six-point victory against Temple. Either they were lucky to survive a game in which they shot only 34 percent or they showed grit to beat such a physical team. I get the feeling they are going to lose a game they should win.

4. Duke

Two things to really like about the Blue Devils — besides the fact that they are Duke and have the best college basketball coach on the planet, above. One, they can score. More scary is how well they are playing on defense. They held Creighton to 50 points, 25 below its average.

3. Ohio State

The Buckeyes have won 10 in a row after Aaron Craft's buzzer-beater 3-pointer against Iowa State on Sunday. The win streak includes two victories over Michigan State and a victory at Indiana. Craft is the type of leader you need to win a national title. Sometimes a team just has that look of a national champion. Ohio State has that look.

2. Florida

You know how you quiet all those who say you can't win close games? Blow out everybody. Assume the Gators will crush FGCU and move on to the Final Four after that.

1. Louisville

The Cardinals came into the tournament as the overall No. 1 seed, and nothing has happened in their two games to change that. Russ Smith has been the tournament's best player, and Louisville has won its two games by 31 and 26 points. The Cardinals also catch a bit of a break playing a No. 12 seed (Oregon) next.

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