My Take...

25 March 2014: The "A,B,C's" of the Sweet 16


16 For the Sweet 16

A: It’s Academic. Even before Tuesday night’s NCAA tournament tipoff, the folks at the University of Dayton were chanting, “We’re in the Sweet 16.” They made it to that elite group, at least on the academic side, according to the Inside Higher Ed online publication. That publication completes its own brackets, based on teams’ performance in the classroom.

 “To determine the winners, we look to the Academic Progress Rate, the NCAA’s multiyear measure of a team’s classroom performance (in this case, from to 2008 to 2012),” stated the Insider Higher Ed story. “When two teams tie, as they inevitably do, we turn to the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate, which measures the proportion of athletes on track to graduate within six years.”

B: Basketball Power Index. The BPI is a team rating system ESPN uses that accounts for final score, pace of play, site, strength of opponent and absence of key players in every Division I men's game. Arizona(1), Florida(2), Louisville(3), Virginia(5), Kentucky(7), Michigan St(8), Wisconsin(9), Iowa St(11), UCLA(13), San Diego St(20), Michigan(22), Connecticut(23), Tennessee(25), Baylor(33), Stanford(34), Dayton(42) B (Part Deaux): Bro-power. Archie Miller (Dayton) and Sean Miller (Arizona) are the first brothers to coach teams in the same Sweet 16 in NCAA men's basketball history.

C: Coaches. The five highest paid Sweet 16 coaches, according to the media reports: Kentucky's John Calipari ($5.4M), Louisville's Rick Pitino ($5M), Michigan State's Tom Izzo ($3.7M), Florida's Billy Donovan ($3.7M) and UCLA's Steve Alford ($2.6M).

D: Dome advantage. The Final Four will be held at an NFL stadium for the 15th consecutive season. In last year's tournament, the South and Midwest regionals were held in NFL domes. Louisville and Michigan won those regionals and then won at the Georgia Dome in the national semifinals. This year, only the Midwest Regional will be held in a domed NFL stadium. So will that be an advantage for the winner between Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan and Tennessee? D (Part Deaux): Done this before. 10 of the 16 teams have won NCAA men's basketball titles in the past: UCLA (11), Kentucky (8), Connecticut (3), Louisville (3, including 2013), Florida (2), Michigan State (2), Arizona (1), Michigan (1), Stanford (1), Wisconsin (1)

E: Every even year. Baylor has traveled to the Sweet 16 in 2010, 2012 and 2014. The only other years the Bears were one of the final 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament was 1946, 1948 and 1950, when the tournament was eight teams.

F: First time coaching in Sweet 16. Connecticut's Kevin Ollie, Dayton's Archie Miller, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Stanford's Johnny Dawkins and Tennessee's Cuonzo Martin will be first time head coaches in this year's Sweet 16. F (Part Deaux): First time for everything. Iowa State, San Diego State, Tennessee and Virginia are the four teams that have never made it to the NCAA title game. Dayton lost to Lew Alcindor-led UCLA in 1967 and Baylor lost to Kentucky in the 1948 title game.

G: Going from one to another. Wisconsin is going from facing one set of highlighter yellow uniforms to another. The Badgers beat Oregon to get to the Sweet 16 after missing to get there last season. Frank Kaminsky, who had 19 points against Oregon, will be in for quite a test against Baylor's tall, athletic front line.

H: History. After Saturday's loss to Dayton, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim became the first coach in NCAA Tournament history with six losses to double digit seeds.

I: If/then. All these seeds have been matched up in the Sweet 16 before. If Kentucky and Tennessee or Dayton and UCLA win their games, then we'll have our first 4 vs. 11 or 8 vs. 11 in the Elite Eight. An 11th seed has made the Elite Eight five times and each time it was matched with a top seed (top seeds are only 3-2 in the matchup, thanks for asking).

J: Just Renting. NCAA may own March Madness, but they only rent Sweet 16. The NCAA has gone through the trademark wars on March Madness, but the Kentucky High School Athletic Association beat them to the punch on Sweet 16. The KHSAA registered the Sweet 16 trademark in 1988 and retains ownership. The NCAA licenses the term for its tournaments.

K: Kentucky can tie a record. In the 1997 NCAA Tournament, Arizona set a record that can only be tied in the current format, beating three No. 1 seeds on the way to the title. Kentucky has a win over Midwest Region top seed Wichita State. If the Wildcats win the national title and beat Arizona in the semifinals and either Virginia or Florida in the title game, they would be the second Wildcats to run through three top seeds.

L: Louisville is in the round of 16 for the third straight year and the great news for the Cardinals is that Naismith Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino is 16-0 in the regional semifinals. His team has won 14 of its last 15 games overall and eight straight in the NCAA tournament.

M: Most surprising Sweet 16 Team. The two most surprising Sweet 16 teams both play one-another for a spot in the Elite Eight. Only a couple weeks ago, Stanford had lost three in a row and had jeopardized its NCAA tournament hopes and endangered its coach's job. Now the tenth-seeded Cardinal are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008 after victories over Mountain West tournament champion New Mexico and Big 12 champ Kansas. Their opponent in Memphis ended a much longer Sweet 16 drought. Eleventh-seeded Dayton, once 1-5 in the Atlantic 10 entering February, rebounded to finish tied for fifth in its league, sneak into the NCAA tournament and upset in-state power Ohio State and third-seeded Syracuse en route to the Sweet 16. M (Part Deaux): UCLA has won the most NCAA Men's Basketball Tournaments (11)

N: New York, East Regional Site. Friday-Sunday: The NCAA tournament hasn’t been in Madison Square Garden since 1961. One of the teams headed there this week has some great memories already of the building known as “the world’s most famous arena.” Connecticut won a record seven Big East tournament titles at Madison Square Garden.

O: One more time. Only Arizona, Florida, Louisville, Michigan and Michigan State return from the Sweet 16 of 2013.

P: The Prize. Quicken Loans offered a $1 billion prize to the basketball fan who submitted the perfect NCAA bracket for this year's tournament. The prize was not claimed. [Though the “Last Man Standing” for any brackets had Oregon listed as national Champ.] If there had been one awarded, it would have been paid out by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.


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