The Midwest Regional in Indianapolis had great potential. Overall No. 1 seed Louisville. Two-seed-caliber Duke. Tough-as-nails Michigan State. Upstart Oregon. Three coaches with a combined 23 Final Four appearances and six national championships. The fourth, Dana Altman, has almost 500 wins. Was I wrong to expect three tight games? Or at least two?
|More on Final Four|
|More college basketball coverage|
Apparently, I was, because fans in Indy got bupkis. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. There was a lot of talent on display, but the games weren't terribly competitive. Three tight first halves turned into three blowouts. Louisville was up 18 on Oregon before coasting to an eight-point win. Duke pulled away from Michigan State and led by as many as 13 in its 71-61 win. And then Sunday, the Cards stepped on the gas after halftime and never let up in a 85-63 win.
Of course, why should the games here be any different? In Washington, D.C., all three games were won by double-digit margins and the losers were never a threat to win. The Midwest region saw Kansas blow a big lead in the only overtime game of the tournament so far, but the other two games were destructions. The West region had the best games. There was a semifinal blowout by Wichita State, but Ohio State made things interesting in both of their games.
That Ohio State comeback surely kept this from being the least competitive Elite Eight ever. The average margin for the four games was 15.5, which is the third highest in the 64+ team era. The highest was 17.75 in 1989, which was aided by a 37-point victory by Michigan over Virginia.
It's not just the regionals, but the whole tournament has been filled with one stomping after another. Sunday's games, both with 20+ point margins, has raised the average margin of victory in the entire tournament to 13.11 points per game. That ranks 12th all time and sixth since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The record is 14.90 in the 1993 tournament.
Forty of the 64 games played so far have had double-digit margins. The record is 42, which happened in 2008 and 2001. Both of those were 64-game tournaments. This tournament still has three games left to break the record, but we'll have to put a Roger Maris asterisk on it.
With Louisville having to face a 9-seed and a 4-seed to win the title, we might get at least a couple more beat-downs. You never know in this tournament, though.
The sum of the seeds is 18, which is high, but not anywhere near the record of 26 set in 2011. It is the fourth-highest since expansion.
I suppose that shouldn't be too surprising. We had a regular season of upsets, so why should the tournament be any different? So far, there have been 20 games in which the lower seeded team won. That's a high number, but the record is 23. And with two 4-seeds playing each other in the Final Four -- that record is safe for another year.
If we've learned anything in this tournament, it's that we should expect the unexpected ... unless the unexpected is a close game.