Thursday night was a bad night for the ACC as the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils went down to the Oregon Ducks by 14, 82-68, and the Miami Hurricanes were steamrolled by the Villanova Wildcats 92-69. It was a big night however for the Big 12 as the Oklahoma Sooners as Kansas Jayhawks both advanced. The Sooners knocked out the last SEC team still standing, Texas A&M 77-63 while the Jayhawks beat Maryland 79-63.
There was no drama to be found on Thursday night, which is not surprising. That is yet another reason why the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is so great. Once you get past the first weekend, the real contenders tend to show their muscle and the surprise endings are usually over. Let’s hope the Friday night slate produces some better games.
One thing we know for sure, the ACC will have a bounce back night on Friday. They would just about have to. Their two number one seeds, Virginia and North Carolina are in action as well as Notre Dame and Syracuse. It’s not that unlikely all four will win. North Carolina takes on Indiana in what should be a great game. If the Heels win, then three of my four Final Four teams will still be alive. Considering how crazy last week was, that’s not terrible. I had Villanova, Oklahoma and UNC making it in along with Michigan State.
Virginia takes on Iowa State, who will be trying to join OU and KU in the Elite Eight from the Big 12. The Big 12 was thought to be the best conference in college basketball this season. The Cyclones could make that hard to prove otherwise with a win tonight.
Wisconsin takes on Notre Dame to join Indiana in trying to get the Big Ten into the Elite Eight. They may be the Big Ten’s best chance. The Irish barely made it into this round, but then again, so did the Badgers.
Gonzaga is the lone team from a non-power conference to still be in it. (Unless you don’t consider the Big East to be a “Power” conference) No matter who wins their game with Syracuse, we will see a double digit seed in the Elite Eight, so this is the “Cinderella Battle” of this year’s Big Dance.
We are going to pick North Carolina (got them in my Final Four so I’m sticking with them), Gonzaga, Notre Dame and Virginia tonight. That would give us three ACC teams, two Big 12, one PAC 12, one Big East and one WCC team left.