And just like that we are down to 16 teams left standing to compete for a National Championship in what has been a topsy turvy tournament. Raise your hand if you had Florida Gulf Coast University in the sweet 16 in your brackets! But that's the kind of tournament it has been thus far capsulizing a college basketball season where there has not been one dominate team.
Having covered the Atlantic Sun conference tournament, I had an idea that FGCU was a really nice team and against just about anybody but Georgetown, I might have picked them in a first round upset. But the 15 seed has only defeated a 2 seed a handful of times since the tournament has expanded, two of them in last years tournament. But not only did the 15 seed completely handle the Hoyas, they took down 7th seeded San Diego State by 10 in the 3rd round. Now a date with the Florida Gators looms for a team playing with a lot of confidence and a team who defeated Miami early in the season, who is also still alive in the tournament. At one point that looked like a bad loss for the Hurricanes, not so much now. FGCU and their 15 seeding are the lowest to make it to the Sweet 16.
And then there is LaSalle. While some are likely more familiar with the Explorers than FGCU, they have managed to get by Kansas State and Ole Miss as a 13 seed. They now face Wichita State, who is a 9th seed, guaranteeing that there will be at least a 9 seed or lower in the Elite 8. The Shockers eliminated the first one seed in Gonzaga. However, Wichita State is no joke and should not be a surprise to basketball purists. They are capable of making a VCU/Butler type run this season. Coached by Gregg Marshall who put his imprint on Winthrop several years ago, guiding them to success and regular visits to the Big Dance.
Another surprise is Oregon. The 12 seed has been extremely impressive and while most feel they are a lower seed than they should be, they have run through Oklahoma State and St. Louis and now have a date with the overall number one seed, Louisville.
But for you old school group, don't fret. There are plenty of blue bloods represented in the Sweet 16 as well. Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Syracuse, Louisville, Michigan State and Arizona are alive and well in the final 16. Which have created some extremely interesting match ups in the Regionals starting on Thursday. How does Duke vs. Michigan State or Syracuse vs. Indiana work for you? Or maybe Miami vs. Marquette or Kansas vs. Michigan fits better for you. But one thing is certain, it is a crap shoot from this point forward.
Louisville looks very strong but if we have learned one thing from this tournament, it's don't look back at what you accomplished, look ahead.
As for the make up of what is left of the field, you have 4 Big Ten teams, 3 Big East teams, 2 Pac 12 teams, 2 ACC teams, 1 Big East and 1 SEC team left in the field from the power conferences. The Missouri Valley, Atlantic Sun and Atlantic 10 each have one representative left.
But if the first week of the tournament is any indication, buckle up your seat belt because it could be a bumpy ride for any team left.