I hope you don't like Davidson stories.
Or Western Kentucky stories.
Or Wichita State stories.
|With their rich history, Jordan Hill's 'Cats can't be considered a Cinderella. (AP)|
Seriously, Arizona and all its prestige and tradition is this year's Cinderella, and the only thing that would make less sense than Arizona playing the role of Cinderella would be Bill Gates playing the lead in Slumdog Millionaire.
The Sweet 16 consists of four No. 1 seeds, four No. 2 seeds, four No. 3 seeds, two No. 4 seeds, one No. 5 seed and No. 12 Arizona. It's all BCS-affiliated schools except for the three -- Memphis, Gonzaga and Xavier -- who refuse to be limited by an inferior conference affiliation, meaning from here on out we've got nothing but big boys vs. big boys, powers vs. powers and Goliaths vs. Goliaths.
All the Davids will be at home watching. With broken sling shots. And shattered dreams.
Here's your first look at the Sweet 16 ...
Three games I can't wait to see
1. North Carolina vs. Gonzaga: The Tar Heels have the No. 1 offense in the country (according to KenPom.com) while the Zags' offense ranks fifth. So if you like points, you'll love this matchup. Also worth noting is that when these schools played two years ago in New York, Josh Heytvelt got 19 points and eight rebounds compared to Tyler Hansbrough's nine points and nine rebounds. Gonzaga won 82-74. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
2. Duke vs. Villanova: I have the Blue Devils in the Final Four, and I'm sticking with them. But more than one coach told me in the past 24 hours that this is a bad matchup for Duke, because the Blue Devils aren't exactly good at guarding the ball, and Villanova is pretty good at driving the ball. What does that mean? I don't know. But coaches usually know what they're talking about, and that has me worried about my Final Four.
3. Memphis vs. Missouri: The last time John Calipari lost to a C-USA opponent was in March 2006, and the guy coaching that C-USA opponent was Mike Anderson, who used to coach UAB but now coaches Missouri. In other words, Anderson has at least once used inferior talent to beat Memphis, which is good for Missouri, because that's exactly what he'll have to do this time around. Of course, back then, Anderson only had to deal with Shawne Williams, Rodney Carney, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Joey Dorsey, Darius Washington and a young Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson. Now he has to figure out a way to slow Roburt F'ing Sallie, the 23-year-old sophomore who has made 13-of-19 3-point attempts through two games of this NCAA tournament. Good luck with that.
One game I've already seen
1. Kansas vs. Michigan State: The Spartans beat the Jayhawks 75-62 on Jan. 10 at the Breslin Center behind a 22-point effort from Kalin Lucas. Afterward, Tom Izzo discounted the margin of victory, and promised Kansas would be "really good in the future." By future, he meant March. Like right now.
Syracuse played a really tough schedule
There were 72 games played between Sweet 16 teams this season.
Who played the most? Syracuse (9).
Who won the most? Louisville (5)
Who didn't lose any? North Carolina (3-0) and Arizona (2-0).
Is there a Sweet 16 team that didn't beat another Sweet 16 team? Yes, Gonzaga (0-3).
(The following is the Sweet 16 teams' records this season vs. other Sweet 16 teams)
North Carolina: 3-0
Michigan State: 2-2
(Weird fact: Georgetown actually beat more Sweet 16 teams than everybody except Louisville and Connecticut. The Hoyas had wins over Memphis, Connecticut, Syracuse and Villanova, but they were still nowhere close to making the NCAA tournament, primarily because they lost 10 times to teams that did not make the Sweet 16 and six times to teams that did not make the NCAA tournament.)
The Sweet 16 by league
Big East (5): Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova
Big 12 (3): Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma
ACC (2): Duke, North Carolina
Big Ten (2): Michigan State, Purdue
Atlantic 10 (1): Xavier
C-USA (1): Memphis
Pac-10 (1): Arizona
WCC (1): Gonzaga
Three of the four teams from last season's Final Four are still eligible for this Final Four. UCLA is the lone exception.
The RPI isn't all bad
I get e-mails all the time complaining about the RPI, including one the other day from an MIT graduate who told me it's flawed and outdated. For the record, I believe him, because I'm nowhere near smart enough to be arguing with MIT graduates about numbers. I know my limitations. But it should be noted that the RPI provided a decent guide this season, because 12 of the 13 schools with the best RPIs entering the NCAA tournament advanced to the Sweet 16. Fourteen of the Sweet 16 teams had top 20 RPIs, with the only exceptions being Gonzaga and Arizona.
(The following is the Sweet 16, ranked by RPI):
1. Duke (No. 1 RPI)
2. Pittsburgh (No. 2 RPI)
3. North Carolina (No. 3 RPI)
4. Louisville (No. 4 RPI)
5. Oklahoma (No. 5 RPI)
6. Michigan State (No. 6 RPI)
7. Memphis (No. 7 RPI)
8. Connecticut (No. 8 RPI)
9. Missouri (No. 10 RPI)
10. Kansas (No. 11 RPI)
11. Syracuse (No. 12 RPI)
12. Villanova (No. 13 RPI)
13. Xavier (No. 17 RPI)
14. Purdue (No. 20 RPI)
15. Gonzaga (No. 26 RPI)
16. Arizona (No. 62 RPI)
Biggest and smallest opening lines
Biggest: Louisville minus-9 over Arizona
Smallest: Oklahoma minus-1 over Syracuse
Some geographical things to remember
1. North Carolina, Gonzaga, Syracuse and Oklahoma will play in Memphis, but Memphis will play in Arizona.
2. Memphis, Missouri, Connecticut and Purdue will play in Arizona, but Arizona will play in Indianapolis.
3. Mike Freeman is from New York, but he'll spend the week in Boston. Gregg Doyel is from Cincinnati, but he'll spend the week in Indianapolis. Dennis Dodd is from Kansas City, but he'll spend the week in Arizona. I am from Memphis, but I'll spend the week in ... Memphis, actually. It's a rare home regional for yours truly, and I couldn't be more excited about not having to live in a hotel this week, although there is something nice about hanging a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door and subsequently avoiding disturbances. For some reason, that never works at the house.
My (updated) Final Four predictions
• Louisville vs. Connecticut
• North Carolina vs. Duke
My National Championship Game
• Connecticut vs. North Carolina
My National Champion
• North Carolina