After a fair share of upsets occurred last week, the men’s Division I NCAA Tournament continued to provide high drama and further bracket busting in the Sweet 16 on Thursday and Friday nights.
Defending national champion Louisville is gone, and so is Virginia, arguably the best defensive team in the nation this season.
The upheaval didn’t end there. Just half of the tournament’s highest eight seeds reached the Elite 8, as only the West Region was able to send its top two seeds (Arizona and Wisconsin) to a regional final.
Not Much Chalk Left
Crashing the party this weekend, will be eight-seeded Kentucky (in the Midwest) while each of the top three seeds in the East will have to sit back and watch fourth-seeded Michigan State and seventh-seeded Connecticut play for a Final Four spot on Sunday.
But looking more closely, none of those surprise teams have raised eyebrows quite that much.
Kentucky, after all, is a talented squad that was ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Michigan State was (for many good reasons) a consensus Final Four pick when the tournament started, and it’s not shocking at all that head coach Tom Izzo has taken the Spartans to the Elite 8 for an eighth time in the past 16 years. And the path that UConn has taken thus far — over a weak two seed (Villanova) and past depleted, third-seeded Iowa State (playing without one of its best players) in a pseudo home game at Madison Square Garden — was very conceivable before it came to fruition.
Yet, Only One True Cinderella Remains
So that leaves one school that remains as the last true underdog story, and it’s the team that will just happen to have to go through the tournament’s top overall seed — the Florida Gators — to continue its magical run all the way to the Final Four, in North Texas.
Yes, if you’re looking for the only real Cinderella option left, the 11th-seeded Dayton Flyers are your hope.