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Over six glorious days of the NCAA Tournament, 52 teams were eliminated from the field of 68. Only 16 remain. Next week, there will be four.
Cinderella – aka No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson of New Jersey – has left the building. Yes, the Knights lost 78-70 loss to No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic Sunday. But how beautiful she was with just the second No. 16 seed victory in NCAA Tournament history. Maryland-Baltimore County did it first in 2018 over Virginia. So FDU, at least you have a better name than that one, which sounds like a high school.
There’s nothing like watching the NCAA Tournament in person. Punch your ticket to the Sweet 16 at StubHub, the easiest place to buy/sell tickets to all the biggest games.
How cool was it to see this on brackets across America?
Here is the Sweet 16 bracket:
Only two top seeds remain with No. 1 overall seed Alabama and Houston. The remaining No. 2 seeds are UCLA and Texas. There are three No. 3 seeds with Gonzaga, Xavier and Kansas State.
Here are the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament ranked by chance of winning the national championship from least to best:
NCAA Tournament Chances To Win It All – 16 To 1
16. SAN DIEGO STATE – The No. 5 seed Aztecs (29-6) have the most difficult assignment as the Sweet 16 opens. They play Alabama on Friday in Louisville. San Diego State beat No. 12 seed Charleston and ripped 13 seed Furman. But it has had its two shining moments.
15. MIAMI – The No. 5 seed Hurricanes (27-7) looked strong in destroying No. 4 seed Indiana, 85-69, in the second round. But they will not get by Houston in Kansas City on Friday.
14. PRINCETON – The No. 15 seed Tigers (23-8) play No. 6 seed Creighton Friday in Louisville. Princeton beat No. 2 seed Arizona in the first round, then blew out No. 7 seed Missouri, 78-63. The Tigers would be Cinderella, but FDU took that. And 15 seeds advancing is starting to be more commonplace. No. 15 Saint Peter’s did reach the Elite Eight last year before losing to North Carolina. If Princeton does get by Creighton, it will have to play Alabama.
13. CREIGHTON – The No. 6 seed Bluejays have the same Alabama problem Princeton has.
12. MICHIGAN STATE – The No. 7 seed Spartans (21-12) have already overachieved following an 11-8 season in the Big Ten. They will not get by Kansas State Thursday in New York.
Sweet 16 Not Bad For 1st-Year Xavier Coach Sean Miller
11. XAVIER – Musketeers coach Sean Miller has found new life after Arizona fired him in 2021 following the FBI investigation of corruption in college basketball that dragnetted him. Xavier is 27-9 and a No. 3 seed in just his first season with the No. 11 scoring offense in the nation (81.2 points a game). Can LSU coach Will Wade, who was fired after a laundry list of major infractions in NCAA’s notice of allegations, do the same? No, he’s at McNeese State. Miller, though, will not get past Texas in Kansas City on Friday.
10. FLORIDA ATLANTIC – The No. 9 seed Owls (33-3) beat America’s fair-haired Fairleigh Dickinson. But don’t fret, they’ll be out of here on Thursday when Tennessee throws their Bobby Knight defense at them in New York.
9. CONNECTICUT – The No. 4 seed Huskies (27-8) will lose their shirts against Arkansas Thursday in Las Vegas. And not in a good way. (See next entry.)
8. ARKANSAS – I can see No. 8 seed Razorbacks’ coach Eric Musselman now – playing the slots shirtless at The Mirage after his 22-13 team upsets 4 seed Connecticut at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday. It could happen. Musselman is one of the hottest NCAA Tournament coaches of late as he is 10-4 since 2018 – 2-2 at Nevada and 8-2 at Arkansas. He knocked off No. 1 seed Kansas on Saturday after upsetting No. 1 seed Gonzaga last year to reach the Elite Eight.
7. UCLA – The No. 2 seed Bruins (31-5) will be leaving Las Vegas at 0-1 after Gonzaga’s offense lights them up more than the Vegas Strip Thursday.
Have 3-Pointers, Will Travel
6. KANSAS STATE – The No. 3 seed Wildcats (25-9) will never forget their thrilling win over No. 6 seed Kentucky Sunday in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday. After going 1-for-14 from 3-point range, they finished 4 for 5 from beyond the arc over the final 6:10 to erase a 54-51 deficit and win, 75-69. Kansas State 18th in the nation in 3-pointers made in the nation with 7.0 a game. Look for more and more memories in their win Thursday over Connecticut in New York. But it won’t get by Tennessee in the Elite Eight.
5. TEXAS – The No. 2 seed Longhorns (28-8) will give the state of Texas what it wants – an all-Texas Midwest Regional final in Kansas City on Sunday against Houston. Texas will beat Xavier on Friday.
Gonzaga Has Nation’s Highest Scoring Offense
4. GONZAGA – The No. 3 seed Zags (30-5) have the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense with 87.3 points a game. Drew Timme, a 6-foot-10 senior forward, is 14th in the nation with a 21.1-point average. He also averages 7.3 rebounds. That will be too much for UCLA on Thursday in Vegas. Then Gonzaga will keep Musselman’s shirt on with a win over the Hogs in the West Regional final.
3. TENNESSEE – The No. 4 seed Volunteers (25-10) will reach their first Final Four in history as they will cut their deficit in that category with the Lady Vols to only 18-1. Coach Rick Barnes will reach his first Final Four since 2003 when he took Texas. Barnes’ rugged defense should be studied by Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel. The Vol’s grizzled veterans will handle Florida Atlantic Thursday in New York, then beat Kansas State in the East Regional title game. Barnes is in his 27th NCAA Tournament.
Houston Will Have A Chance To Win It All
2. HOUSTON – The No. 1 seed Cougars (33-3) and coach Kelvin Sampson have an excellent chance of winning Houston’s first national championship after Phi Slama Jama finished runner-up in 1983 and ’84. This team plays much smarter than coach Guy Lewis’ teams.
Houston will handle Miami and Texas in Kansas City, then Gonzaga at the Final Four in Houston. The Cougars and Sampson will then give Alabama fits in the national championship game.
Alabama Will Win National Championship
1. ALABAMA – The No. 1 seed Crimson Tide (31-5) has won nine of its last 10 games in a variety of ways. Guard/forward Brandon Miller may be the best player in the nation, but Bama does not always need him at his best to win. Guard Jahvon Quinerly and forward Noah Clowney and solid depth give this team balance. And no team anywhere this season has played amid more distractions. The Tide will handle San Diego State and Creighton with little trouble in Louisville this week to reach its first Final Four.
Then its toughest two back-to-back tests all season awaits in Houston at the Final Four. Tennessee beat Alabama, 68-59, on Feb. 15 in Knoxville as the Vols held the Tide to a season-low point total and only time in the 50s. Alabama won 71-65 at Houston on Dec. 10, but it trailed by 15 in the second half.
OK, Nick Saban, follow that!