The Sweet 16: Will this be the University of Kentucky’s party?
Since the last time we’ve crossed paths, the NCAA hoops field has been whittled from 68 to 16 teams, both Buckeye basketball squads have had their season extinguished and my bracket now resembles a dumpster fire from the old Chittenden days … Geez, what a difference a week makes.
In all fairness, all three were pretty much guaranteed. However, unlike my bracket, both Buckeye hoops teams showed some promise. The lady Buckeyes and freshman three-point machine, Kelsey Mitchell proudly rallied back from a 20 point deficit against the UNC tarheels, only to have their hearts ripped out by Jamie Cherry’s buzzer beater (85-84).
Meanwhile, Thad Matta’s team looked impressive in a ‘second-round’ upset win (75-72) over havoc-causing VCU. Despite that boost of confidence, Ohio State looked less than stellar in the following game. The first (and only?) season of the D’Angelo Russell show abruptly ended once the University of Arizona Wildcats pulled the plug on the Buckeyes. Russell had an uncharacteristically cold night, shooting 3 of 19 from the floor. Factor in a 43 to 26 rebounding difference and it’s nearly remarkable that Arizona’s win was only 73-58.
Subsequently, the UK Wildcats and fifteen other teams have advanced to the sweet sixteen. Throughout those sixteen; UCLA, NC State and Xavier have the most Cinderella-type of story unfolding. While heart warming, don’t get too attached. Because the slipper won’t fit this round, or maybe you prefer, the clock will strike midnight for those three teams. My predicted champ, Arizona, on the other hand, should continue to dance for a while.
Typical tournament stalwarts; Izzo, Calipari, and Krzyzewski look to extend their stay. If interested in gambling, and I am, I’d say pick all three Vegas favorites to advance. (MSU/UK/Duke parlay, say what?) Despite being seeded 7th, the Spartans wouldn’t surprise anyone if they knocked out the 3rd seeded Oklahoma Sooners. More publicized, most believe top seeded Duke and Kentucky are on pace for an epic final collision. How epic? Think 1992 “The Shot” type epic…
In Kentucky and throughout big blue nation, anything less than a confetti-raining NCAA title ceremony would be considered an epic failure. No pressure. The Wildcats have, no bullshitting, a record of 36 wins with 0 losses. Led by polarizing Coach ‘Cal’ and big man Willie Cauley-Stein.
The team from Lexington looks to solidify this years UK lineup as one of the greatest of all time. If this team happens to win the championship then it will have to finish an unfathomably perfect 40-0.
Yet, the last team to go undefeated and win the championship was the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. So, like Lee Corso says, “not so fast, my friend.” Whether you’re playing or filling out a bracket, perfect is pretty damn hard to achieve, especially when referencing anything related to the NCAA tournament. Correspondingly, out of 11.57 million brackets filled out this year, none were flawlessly predicted after just 33 games.
So, don’t get discouraged if your bracket has more lines through it than a Sheen party.
I know my bracket is definitely not “winning.” No more pressure for me.
Kentucky, all eyes on you.