AFTER 52 GAMES, this NCAA Tournament has produced the knowns (Louisville was a deserving favorite and the Big Ten was the country's best conference), the unknowns (most seeds 12 and above winning in the round of 64) and confirmation that Pac-12 champion Oregon was the most poorly seeded Big Six team in history.
Louisville won its two games by a combined 57 points. The Cardinals forced 44 turnovers and allowed 36 field goals. They had 31 steals. Russ Smith scored 50 points. They looked like an absolute machine.
The Big Ten went 6-1 in the second round and 4-2in the third round. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State (barely) and Indiana (barely) are in the Sweet 16.
Nobody understood why the committee made Oregon a 12 seed. For bracketing purposes, they can move a team one line, but even an 11 seems absurd after the Ducks wiped out No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Saint Louis. The seeding was especially unfair to those teams who got what was the equivalent of a No. 6 seed.
Oregon-Louisville in Indianapolis on Friday should be very entertaining.
The first Friday seems to be the day for upsets anymore. Last year, we had Lehigh over Duke and Norfolk State over Missouri, a pair of 15-over-2 wins. This year, it was Florida Gulf Coast (15) over Georgetown (2), La Salle (13) over Kansas State (4) and Mississippi (12) over Wisconsin (5). That really should have included Davidson (14) over Marquette (3), but for some wild threes by Marquette in the final seconds. So we had some serious shredding going on before people left work Friday, if they actually went to work or got any work done while there.
Big 5 Friday
I was in Brooklyn the previous Friday when the Big 5 got run out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament in three consecutive games, first La Salle, then Saint Joseph's and, finally, Temple. I left wondering if La Salle was going to get in at all and about the viability of the Owls.
So what happens 7 days later? Temple upsets North Carolina State right before La Salle upset Kansas State, one of the great NCAA days in recent city history. And if Villanova had completed its comeback against North Carolina, it would have been the all-timer.
Very wild West
By Friday afternoon, the 3-4-5 seeds were all gone in the West Region. By Saturday night, so was the 1-seed. And if Ohio State did not get the benefit of a late charge call against Iowa State Sunday and Aaron Craft did not hit that game winner, it might have been the first regional without any of the top four seeds since seeding began (1979).
That was the weakest bracket when the selections were revealed. Then Harvard, Mississippi and La Salle won second-round games to blow it wide-open.
The old & new Big East & that other league
The old Big East had five teams lose in the second round, but got three (Louisville, Syracuse and Marquette) through to the Sweet 16. The new Big East went 4-4, Villanova and Georgetown going 0-1, Butler 1-1, Marquette 2-0 and Creighton 1-1.
The League With No Name went 2-4, with new members Temple and Memphis each winning in the second round and Cincinnati losing to Creighton. TLWNN can count Louisville, if it wishes.
Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame are heading for the ACC next season. Louisville will follow after a season in the No Name League.
Got all that? Didn't think so.
The Atlantic 10/ Mountain West
The A-10 and MWC got eight of the 37 at-large bids, the same as the ACC (three), Pac-12 (three) and SEC (two).
The A-10 was perfect through the second round (6-0), but all except La Salle got wiped out in the third. After going 6-0 through Friday, the A-10 went 1-5 on Saturday and Sunday. Only La Salle got through.
The biggest surprises were not just that Saint Louis and VCU lost, but that they were crushed.
Once it fell behind, Saint Louis seemed lost, getting totally out of character. The Billikens, a really smart team, were baffled by the Ducks' zone. And the three-point line was a disaster. They were 3-for-21 while Oregon was 8-for-11. And that accounted for most of the 74-57 margin.
VCU got a team with great skill, playing an hour from its campus. Once Michigan got the ball by the Rams' initial defense, it was a layup line.
The Mountain West was a disaster, going 2-3 in the first two rounds, losing as a No. 3 (New Mexico) and No. 5 (UNLV) and in a 13-13 game (Boise State-La Salle). Colorado State got through, but then was blown out by Louisville. San Diego State was eliminated by Florida Gulf Coast.
Those tournament champions
Five of the Big Six Tournament champions are still playing. They are: Louisville, Oregon, Ohio State, Kansas and Miami.
The Gonzaga story
The Bulldogs shot 50 percent during the season, but just a nervous 44-for-114 (38.6 percent) in their two NCAA games. They were fortunate to beat Southern in that 1-16 game. And were a bit unlucky to lose to No. 9 Wichita State.
The Zags not only lost injured Gary Bell for much of the second half. They seemed to have the game won when Wichita, a 33 percent three-point-shooting team, hit five straight threes and scored on nine consecutive possessions down the stretch.
In retrospect, all those wins against Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor) don't look so good. Three went out in the second round and Baylor did not make it.
By the numbers *
Michigan State held its two opponents 38-for-118 (32.2 percent) shooting and crushed them on the glass, 85-45.
The 35 MSU turnovers are scary. If they get Louisville in the Midwest Region final, it could get ugly.
* VCU's 71-point swing between winning and then losing is the largest in tournament history. The Rams beat Akron, 88-42, before losing to Michigan, 78-53.
Houston (1968) had the largest swing (67 points), beating TCU in the regional final, 103-68, before losing to UCLA, 101-69, in the Final Four.
* Yes, Arizona only had to beat Belmont and Harvard, but the Wildcats looked really good doing it, shooting 56 percent overall and from the arc (18 made threes) while holding their opponents to 33 percent. With the West wide-open and playing in Los Angeles, Sean Miller's team is very live for Atlanta.
* Last time Syracuse was at the Verizon Center, it lost by 61-39 to Georgetown in the final game of the regular season and looked absolutely dead. Then, the Orange got to the Big East final before getting overrun by Louisville in the final 10 minutes. The zone proceeded to San Jose where it totally confused two Western teams, Montana and California. They shot a combined 33-for-110 (30 percent), 8-for-52 (15.4 percent) from the arc. The 'Cuse forced 34 turnovers and had 22 steals. It will return to the Verizon Center on Thursday for the Sweet 16.