Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kudos to the Sweet 16 Party Crashers!

The Sweet 16 in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, for the most part, has held serve as 10 of the 16 teams were expected to be there according to their seeding. An 11th team, the No. 5 Arizona Wildcats were also a welcomed guest as a No. 5 beating a No. 4 is not widely considered a huge upset.

But then there are the No. 12 Richmond Spiders, No. 11 Marquette Golden Eagles, the No. 11 VCU Rams, the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles and the No. 8 Butler Bulldogs. According to the seeding, these survivors were not (initially) given a personal invitation to the party, but then again, nobody called them up and told them they couldn't attend. These 5 party-crashers represent the annual "spoilers club" and are marching forward looking to do more damage. One of those 5 is guaranteed a trip to the Elite 8 as VCU and Florida State will battle each other in the Sweet 16 after hijacking the invitations that were "reserved" for #2 Notre Dame and #3 Purdue.

The Southwest bracket as a whole is the most unusual as the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks are the only "big boys" left standing with 3 double-digit seeds (Richmond, Florida State and VCU). This marks the first time in tournament history that 3 double-digit seeds advance to the Sweet 16 from a single bracket. So I'm sure everyone who has Kansas coming out of the southwest must be thrilled to see the higher seeds still in there. In other words, "less formidable opponents" for Kansas. But I wouldn't count out the winner of that FSU-VCU match-up just yet. Something tells me they haven't finished issuing their statement. Which ever one of those two teams advances to the Elite 8 will be a force to be reckoned with. No doubt.

The No. 11 Golden Eagles of Marquette have the toughest road of all the party-crashers as the No. 2 North Carolina Tar Heels and the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes are still lurking in the East bushes. But we never know. Twice in the history of the tournament a No. 11 seed has reached the Final Four (George Mason in 2006 and LSU in 1986). Will Marquette be the third?

As for Butler, they have a chance to equal the Rollie Massimino-led Villanova Wildcats who as a No. 8 seed won the whole thing in 1985. Will the two-time Cinderella Bulldogs be the second 8th seed ever to accomplish the feat? We'll see....

For the record, I had none of those higher-seeded teams in my Sweet 16 but as an objective fan it's good to see as I am an "upset" freak. Anyway, GOOD LUCK to all in the Sweet 16.

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