GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Auburn reached heights never before seen for its men's basketball program this year. A No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 and sustained national relevance through much of the season punctuated what was a huge season that didn't start out with high hopes.

But the NCAA Tournament is a fickle beast, and the big bracket's capability of crushing dreams and swiftly sending teams into an unexpected ending has a way of redesigning what four months of buildup can do for a team's image. It all flamed out for Bruce Pearl's Auburn team on Sunday evening in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, as the second-seeded Tigers were dispatched in dominant fashion by No. 10 seed Miami 79-61. 

Auburn began the season 22-1, proving to be one of the surprises in the sport. (Auburn wasn't ranked in the preseason.) Down the stretch, AU faded. It finished 6-5, doing so despite having Jabari Smith, who's in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Tigers also had Walker Kessler, who's shot-blocking ability (4.6 per game) put him at the forefront of the discussion for best defenders in college basketball. 

It didn't matter on Sunday. Miami got out early and never trailed. The Hurricanes looked like the No. 2 seed, not Auburn. Jim Larrañaga is going back to the Sweet 16 for the third time at Miami and the fourth time in his career. The Hurricanes got 21 points from point guard Isaiah Wong and 20 more from All-ACC guard Kameron McGusty. The Hurricanes held Auburn to just 30% shooting, basically cutting off the Tigers' water in the second half and reducing Smith to a non-factor for significant portions of the night. The inevitable one-and-done player had just 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting. His 15 rebounds weren't close to enough for making up the difference for the Tigers.

The loss means all but one SEC team -- Arkansas -- is out of the men's NCAA Tournament. 

For the ACC, Miami joins Duke and North Carolina in moving on to the Sweet 16. The Hurricanes will face No. 11 Iowa State in the Sweet 16 with a bid to the Elite Eight on the line on Friday. 

Here are three takeaways from Miami's win vs. Auburn

Auburn, Pearl lost the plot

Auburn wasn't the only No. 1 or 2 seed to fail to break through to the Sweet 16, but it might have been the least surprising one not to win a pair of games over the past four days. The Tigers never regained their mojo after losing a good overtime game at Arkansas on Feb. 8. Every win since then, with the exception of Friday's defeat of Jacksonville State, came against a team that didn't make the NCAA Tournament. 

There were too many times this season when Smith became option No. 3 or 4 for Auburn. He wasn't an alpha -- Pearl has spoken about how this has been a positive in many ways for his team -- but he needed to command more to give this team a chance at a deep run. Smith went more than 10 minutes of game time between shot attempts in the second half (though he was bad overall, shooting 3-of-16).  Meantime, Wendell Green Jr. and KD Johnson combined for 8-of-23 shooting. The guard play was at times fun, at times erratic for the Tigers. Many thought it would come back to bite this team and indeed it did. Also: Walker Kessler didn't make a field goal.

Miami helps redeem the ACC -- and itself

The ACC was on the struggle bus for most of the season, flirting with only sending three teams to the Big Dance. It wound up being five. And now, three of those teams are still around. Duke, North Carolina and the U. (Notre Dame exited Sunday vs. Texas Tech; Virginia Tech was a one-and-done vs. Texas.)

What Larrañaga has done is remarkable. In January, I detailed how Miami had dealt with, and overcome, the dark cloud of being erroneously tied to the infamous FBI investigation, which would up setting the program back two years. After it was cleared, Miami worked its way back into the picture. That program has an immense feeling of redemption with this Sweet 16 run. Really, this might be one of the most overlooked stories in the sport. Maybe that changes in the next four days. Larrañaga never retired, though he could have. The program could have completely drifted back into irrelevancy. Instead, it's here. It's got the ACC with as many teams in the Sweet 16 as the Big 12. 

Meantime, the SEC ... woof

The Big Ten's taking a hit, and now it's the SEC's turn. The conference had Auburn as a No. 2 seed, Kentucky as a No. 2 seed, Tennessee as a (controversial) No. 3 seed, Arkansas as a No. 4 seed and LSU and Alabama as No. 6s. (Texas A&M felt like the biggest snub, remember.)

But here we are: Arkansas is the only one still playing. The league is 4-5. It rated second this season in overall conference strength, according to multiple advanced metrics. We can't (and I won't) get caught in the trap of evaluating one team or one league's value based on a single-elimination tournament. Still, for the SEC not to get even two teams into the regional semifinals after having all of its teams in ranked so well? It's wild. Plus, the conference's four wins in this year's tournament have come against mid-major programs: Jacksonville State, Vermont, New Mexico State and Longwood. 

Between this and the fact that six of the leagues 14 jobs have changed over, no conference has as much intrigue and head-scratching confusion as the SEC. It just means more ... whatever that means.