The ACC: Stay tuned for more

No. 1 seed Duke and No. 3 seed Notre Dame were among the six ACC teams in the NCAA tournament—five have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.
No. 1 seed Duke and No. 3 seed Notre Dame were among the six ACC teams in the NCAA tournament—five have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen.

What did you do this weekend?

Got some work done? Maybe went out to the bars on Main Street?

Or did you do what I did and watch every single game of the NCAA tournament using various electronic devices from the start of Notre Dame-Northeastern Thursday afternoon to the end of Louisville-Northern Iowa Sunday night?

If you fall into the latter category, then you witnessed some classic March Madness.

Day one began with UAB holding on to knock out Big 12 tournament champion Iowa State immediately followed by Georgia State—this year’s tournament darling—eliminating 3-seed Baylor via an impossibly deep 3-pointer with less than three seconds remaining that caused head coach Ron Hunter to fall out of his chair.

Even UCLA—a team that many thought didn’t deserve to be in the tournament at all—got in on the action, beating SMU thanks to a controversial goaltending call on a deep triple that was clearly not going into the basket.

By the end of the weekend, No. 1 seed Villanova and No. 2 seeds Virginia and Kansas have joined the rest of us on the couch and 11-seed UCLA, eight-seed N.C. State and seven-seeds Wichita State and Michigan State are still in the running.

One of the questions that looks like it was answered during the course of the first two rounds was which conference is the best in the country.

For most of the year, the ACC and Big 12 have bounced back and forth in the minds of pundits as the best conference in college basketball. The ACC had the best teams with Virginia, Duke, Louisville and Notre Dame hanging in or around the top 10 all year long. The Big 12—partly due to its size—seemed to lack any low quality teams.

But with 16 teams remaining, the numbers speak for themselves.

The Big 12 entered seven teams—tied for the most by any conference—into the Big Dance and currently has just two squads remaining: West Virginia and Oklahoma. The conference finished 5-5 heading into the Sweet 16 and is in serious danger of not having a single team enter the Elite Eight.

The Mountaineers head to Cleveland to take on undefeated Kentucky who is just four wins away from immortality. The Sooners have to take on Tom Izzo’s Spartans who already ousted Virginia and enter the Sweet Sixteen riding a huge wave of momentum.

West Virginia is solid but it doesn’t have the talent that the Wildcats do, and it will take a miracle to unseat Coach Cal’s squad. But I guess that wouldn’t be the first time a miracle has occurred in the tournament.

The ACC entered six teams into the Big Dance and to this point only Virginia has been eliminated. The conference finished the weekend 11-1 and is guaranteed at least one team in the Elite Eight thanks to a match up in Syracuse, N.Y. between N.C. State and Louisville.

I won’t talk about Duke because I believe too much in sports superstition, but I will take a stab at both Notre Dame’s and North Carolina’s odds to advance past the Sweet 16.

After winning the ACC tournament, the Fighting Irish have yet to look spectacular. They beat Northeastern by four points and Butler by just three, but give Mike Brey’s team credit for fighting through its struggled and getting to this point. Notre Dame will also have the emotional advantage on its side. The Irish will fight even harder for their coach now after the passing of his mother Saturday morning.

Beating Wichita State won’t be easy—the Shockers beat No. 2 Kansas more convincingly than Notre Dame has beaten anyone so far. Wichita State has a history of being dangerous as a mid-tier seed—as a nine-seed, the Shockers reached the Final Four in 2013—but I can’t see the Irish, as one of the most efficient shooting teams in the country, having a third subpar shooting day in a row.

As for the Tar Heels, they have a shot to get through too. The Badgers are a defensive-minded team with two of the most talented players in the country in Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, but they have yet to reach full capacity during the tournament and could be vulnerable for an upset from a team with as talented of an offense as North Carolina.

They will need Marcus Paige to have one hell of a shooting day to pull out the victory, but crazier things have happened.

Keep your weekend open. There’s too much basketball going on to do anything but sit down and watch. Again.


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