Chadrack Lufile; Gregg Marshall

This Sweet 16 (mostly) madder than any before


This year’s NCAA tournament is madder than ever before. Mostly.

Florida Gulf Coast (15) and La Salle (13) made the 2013 event the first to have two teams seeded 13 or lower reach the Sweet 16, but that’s not all. Adding Oregon (12) and Wichita State (9) helped make this one of the least “chalky” Sweet 16. The average seed of the 16 remaining teams: 5.06.

That puts it on slightly ahead of 2010 and 2011 (when 11 seed VCU headlined the upset-maker and there were four double-digit seeds still around) when the average seed remaining was 5.0. It’s the fifth most surprising of the seeded era and the “wackiest” since 2000 (the year two 8 seeds reached the Final Four).

Until the year, No. 15 seeds were 6-112 in the tournament, while No. 13 seeds were 29-112. FGCU and La Salle defied some considerable odds to reach this point.

(View the fill bracket here.)

So, what’s that mean for your bracket?

Some nuggets:

  • Our NCAA tournament contest doesn’t feature any brackets with more than 14 teams still around. Only 24 brackets still have their entire Elite Eight. (But there is one canny bracket out there with FGCU winning it all. And two with La Salle cutting down the nets.
  • Only four out of 8.15 million entries in ESPN’s game predicted 15 of the 16 seeds, while 1.3 percent had La Salle in the Sweet 16. Just 0.95 percent had FGCU that far. There are no perfect brackets.
  • Just 966 total ESPN brackets predicted the West Region correctly (Ohio State, Arizona, Wichita State and La Salle).
  • Gonzaga’s loss Saturday marked just the fifth time since 1985 that the No. 1 team in the AP poll lost in the Round of 32 (last was Kansas in 2010).
  • Three regions had one double-digit seed advance to the Sweet 16. That’ll affect anyone’s bracket.

But it wasn’t all madness.

The Big Ten has four teams remaining. The Big East has three. That’s a familiar sight in March.

Close wins by Indiana and Kansas ensured this wouldn’t be the third weekend since 1985 that two 1 seeds lost during the first weekend.

The East Region was relatively sane as each of the top four seeds advanced.

Three of the 1, 2 and 3 seeds advanced, commonplace for each tournament.

So maybe the weekend wasn’t that crazy. After all, President Obama’s bracket – which featured relatively few upsets – has 11 of 16 teams remaining and still features six of its Elite Eight. He’s sitting in the 72nd percentile in ESPN’s game.

Perhaps that’s the lasting lesson – play it safe and your bracket won’t be in shambles come Monday. Mostly.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Tom Izzo’s point is valid, but he’s wrong about the new fouling rules

Eron Harris, Tom Izzo
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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On Sunday night, after No. 3 Michigan State knocked off No. 23 Providence in the final of the Wooden Legacy, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo made sure to make his feelings known about the new college basketball officiating mandates.

He doesn’t like them.

At all.

“I just think we’re taking the flow of the game away,” Izzo said. “Maybe it’ll change. We’ll play by the same rules everybody else does. But I think I can voice my opinion to say that I don’t agree with it.”

Part of what frustrated Izzo was that, in a matchup between the two best players in college basketball, both Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn were sent to the bench with foul trouble.

“I didn’t like it either way,” Izzo said. “I didn’t like having Denzel on the bench, and I didn’t even like watching Dunn on the bench.”

“Don’t tweet this now and leave out the officials,” he added, according to “It’s not their fault. Because that’s the way they’re mandated to call them. So I am really either blaming the rules committee, which ends up on the coaches somewhat. So I’m looking in the mirror and blaming myself because I should have argued it more maybe. I just don’t think it’s fun to have these guys sitting.”

This is nothing new for Izzo. This was calculated. He basically said the same thing after Michigan State, then No. 1 in the country, beat Oklahoma in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic two seasons ago, when the rules committee tried to implement these same rules. It was his pushback that started the campaign to get rid of the freedom of movement rules.

But here’s the thing: we all knew this was going to happen. We knew there was going to be an adjustment period, for coaches and players and referees alike. In the long run, freedom of movement is good for basketball. It’s part of the reason the NBA is so much fun to watch these days, as their emphasis on the freedom of movement got us out of the days where the Detroit Pistons were winning titles without scoring 80 points.

Physicality is ingrained in college basketball. Coaches teach defense a certain way. Players play defense a certain way. The guys in the NBA are stronger, but the style of play is much more physical in the college game than the pro game. That doesn’t change overnight.

It changes when those rules are enforced and those fouls are called, and, as a result, the players and coaches learn to adjust to them.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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