March Madness, indeed! The 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has reached the Sweet 16, and the remaining pairings hardly look anything like what anyone could truthfully have expected. All I can say for certain is that my NCAA bracket is in shambles. I'm betting yours is, too.
We will get to the Sweet 16 matchups a bit later, but for now let's look at who isn't playing anymore. Remember those record-setting 11 teams the Big East Conference got into the tournament? Poof! Gone. Vanished. At least most of them, anyway. Only two of the 11, Marquette and UConn, remain.
Syracuse? Bye-bye. The East Region's second-seeded team was KO'd by fellow Big East team Marquette. Pitt? The No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region was stunned by Butler. Notre Dame? The No. 2 seed in the Southwest Region, the Fighting Irish were no match for the stifling defense of Florida State. St. John's? Routed by Gonzaga. Georgetown? Villanova? Cincinnati? West Virginia? Louisville? All gone. See ya later!
If you need a new bracket, and you just might with all the scribbling I know you've had to do, make sure to get your printable NCAA bracket from SB Nation. You can also catch up with whatever you have missed at SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub.
So, who's left, anyway? Region-by-region Sweet 16 pairings are below, as well as quick comments on each region.
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 4 Kentucky
No. 2 North Carolina vs. No. 11 Marquette
Some folks think Ohio State has looked like the best team in the tournament thus far. Then again, the Buckeyes have only played a 16th seed (Texas-San Antonio) and an eighth seed (George Mason). We will know a lot more when they play Kentucky.
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 5 Arizona
No. 3 UConn vs. No. 2 San Diego St.
So much for all those experts who theorized that Connecticut would wear out after winning five games in five days to capture the Big East Tournament. It's called momentum, and right now the Huskies are riding the wave.
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 12 Richmond
No. 11 VCU vs. No. 10 Florida State
Based on the seedings, this looks like a cakewalk to the Final Four for Kansas. Based on the fact that this is the NCAA Tournament and is called March Madness for reasons we have already seen a bunch of times in the past few days, I wouldn't be punching my ticket just yet if I was a Jayhawks fan.
No. 8 Butler vs. No. 4 Wisconsin
No. 3 BYU vs. No. 2 Florida
I only have two things to say here. If you try to tell me this is the way you saw the Southeast playing out, with these four being in the regional semifinals, you are lying. Second, BYU's Jimmer Fredette is ridiculously good.