Don’t worry if you slept (or worse, worked) through the first three rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Breitbart Sports will get you up to speed with seven quick facts about the Sweet Sixteen. Just follow the numbers…
1. ZERO - The conference with the highest overall RPI ranking has zero teams in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Mountain West Conference, home to New Mexico, Colorado State, San Diego State, and former National Champion UNLV, finished the season with the number one RPI ranking, which brings up a solid point about statistics and computers. Sometimes they lie. The Mountain West had a solid year, perhaps better than some of the “BCS” conferences, like the SEC, the PAC 12, or the Big 12. But did anyone seriously think the Mountain West passed the eyeball test better than the Big Ten or the Big East? This is why a room full of people make the selections in the tournament and not computers. Which brings me to the next number…
2. FOUR – The Big Ten, which finished second behind the Mountain West in overall RPI, has four teams in the Sweet Sixteen, one ahead of the Big East.
Did I mention statistics and computers sometimes whiff? It’s true that computers can only spit out answers in accordance with the information used to program them. That means it’s time to go back to the drawing board with the conference RPI computers. When the two conferences that combine to make up exactly one half of the Sweet Sixteen finish behind a conference with zero participants, someone needs to page Harold the Computer Programmer and see if he can tweak the machine a bit. If it happens again next year, Harold, you’ll be joining recently-departed Minnesota coach Tubby Smith in the unemployment line.
In the meantime, you, Harold, Tubby Smith, and all of the coaches and players from the Mountain West Conference can watch Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Michigan from the Big Ten and Louisville, Marquette, and Syracuse from the Big East play in the Sweet Sixteen.
3. THIRTEEN – The rich get richer, as thirteen teams in the Sweet Sixteen have previously won at least one NCAA Tournament.
What do Wichita State, Miami, and Florida Gulf Coast University have in common? Let’s just say there’s a reason nobody penciled them in the Sweet Sixteen before the season started. They aren’t traditional powers. Of the teams in the Sweet Sixteen, only those three remain without a national championship. Even La Salle, yes that La Salle, has a championship. Remember that buzz all year about Gonzaga being the first mid-major to win a title? Don’t tell La Salle (or those other basketball powerhouses with NCAA rings, like Holy Cross, CCNY, San Francisco, Loyola Chicago, or UTEP) about that. They might just show you their trophy case.
4. THREE – The State of Florida has three teams in the Sweet Sixteen.
Quick, if you had been told at the beginning of the season Florida would get three teams to the Sweet Sixteen, how many schools would you have guessed before you got down to Miami? What about Florida Gulf Coast? A dozen? More? Did you even know there was such a school? Or that it even had a basketball team? Miami and Florida Gulf Coast join two-time champion Florida to make the Sunshine State the only state this year with three schools in the Sweet Sixteen. Speaking of Florida Gulf Coast…
5. FIFTEEN – Florida Gulf Coast University is the first fifteen seed to ever make the Sweet Sixteen.
Only seven times in history has a fifteen seed defeated a two seed in the Round of 64. The previous six lost their next game. Not Florida Gulf Coast. By defeating two seed Georgetown and seven seed San Diego State, they became the first fifteen seed in history to make the Sweet Sixteen. Beating both Georgetown and San Diego State by double digits? Well, that was just showing off.
6. SIX, NINE, THIRTEEN – If Ohio State makes the Final Four, it will have had to play no team seeded higher than six.
If Ohio State beats six seed Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen, it will face the winner of nine seed Wichita State and thirteen seed La Salle in the Elite Eight. Having already knocked off fifteen seed Iona and ten seed Iowa State, it will have faced by far the easiest path of any Final Four team.
7. EIGHTY – Only two forty-minute games stand between the Sweet Sixteen and the Final Four.
Whether you’re a newcomer like Florida Gulf Coast, who is playing in only their second year of Division 1 basketball, or a blueblood like Indiana, who is trying to hang their sixth NCAA Campionship banner, the only thing standing between you and a trip to Atlanta for the Final Four is eighty minutes of basketball. Win two games, and you head to the biggest dance in college basketball. Lose, and you get to watch the fun from home.