All we heard from college basketball’s pundits throughout the regular season (conference play), was just how dominant the Atlantic Coast Conference was this year.
From top to bottom, the ACC was unlike anything we have seen in a long time, if ever. After all, the conference is home to such great coaches as Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, and Jim Boeheim, to name a few. We were told on a nightly basis, that to play an ACC schedule this season was hazardous to your post-season hopes, if not your health. As Dukie V, I mean Dickie V (Vitale) would scream incoherently and incessantly: “they are super, scintillating, and sensational!” The NCAA tournament selection committee certainly agreed, as nine teams were chosen for the Big Dance. Among them, were a #1 seed (UNC), two #2 seeds (Duke and Louisville), and a #3 seed (FSU). Don’t forget that when Syracuse’s bubble (another ACC team) burst on selection night, so did that of the entire ESPN panel of Bracketologists who gave Boeheim twenty minutes to plead his case (whine). Well, as we get ready to begin play in the Sweet Sixteen round Thursday night, all but ONE of the mighty 9 are DONE! Four teams did not make it out of the first round, and some of the losses they incurred came by 25, 24, & 20 points respectively. Wow! The one remaining team, North Carolina Tar Heels (aided by an egregious missed call by the officials), barely survived against the Arkansas Razorbacks. So, ACC you later alligator!
How about the Big East Conference, my beloved new Big East, how did they fare? While still basking in the glory of Villanova’s amazing and improbable national championship victory last season (over the ACC’s Tar Heels) they had a strong seven conference teams chosen for the field of 64. However, they too have greatly underachieved, and have advanced only two of them to the second week of play. Nova, the overall #1 seed in the entire tournament, let a 7 point lead with five minutes left get away, losing to the 8th seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday. The tweet below, which channels Simon & Garfunkel, sums up the Big Least’s plight this March:
— More Sports Now (@MoreSportsNow) March 18, 2017
The big winners thus far, conference wise, are the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac 12, all advancing 3 teams apiece. Of those four, the most impressive to me is the Pac 12, or as Bill Walton calls them, “The Conference of Champions”. They only had four teams selected to begin with, and the one “loser”, USC, overcame a 17 point second half deficit against Providence in its First Four game victory, and a 10 point second stanza lead to SMU, before finally losing a thriller in the waning seconds to Baylor. Can Sean Miller, whose Arizona Wildcats are LOADED with talent, finally guide his team to a Final Four? Will Lonzo Ball continue his dazzling play, driving UCLA’s Bruins, or will his father petition the NBA for immediate entrance into the “League”? How about Oregon and its do-it-all junior forward Dillon Brooks? He was the conference player of the year and is a deadly late game big shot maker. Does he have another one in store for Michigan?
I guess March Madness, with all of its prognosticators, provides us another example in which Ben Franklin’s famous quote rings true: “believe none of what you hear, and only half of what you see.” And that is My 2 sense for this week.