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This Sweet 16 (mostly) madder than any before

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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.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.