Author: Mike Miller

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Louisville-Michigan classic gave NCAA tournament the game it needed

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Louisville’s 82-76 win against Michigan on Monday shot into one of March Madness’ legendary games thanks to the hot hands of Luke Hancock and Spike Albrecht, amazing dunks and incredible pace. Add it all up and it allowed the NCAA tournament to end on a note that will leave a memorable impression on fans’ minds — not a small thing when it comes to a tournament that didn’t have many memorable games until Monday.

At least, that’s what Dan Patrick says.

Kevin Ware cuts down the net with Louisville


Kevin Ware was one of the Final Four’s main storylines all week. Turned out it that story had a happy ending.

Ware, the Louisville guard who suffered a compound fracture while attempting a block during the Cardinals’ regional final win against Duke, was with his teammates in Atlanta for their NCAA tournament title game against Michigan. In case Louisville won, the baskets would be lowered so Ware could take part in the tradition of the winning team cutting down the net.

This is what sheer joy looks like.


Photo via @jose3030

“These are my brothers. They got the job done. I’m so proud of them, so proud of them,” Ware said afterward.  “It meant the world to me,” Ware said. “I don’t really have any other words to describe how I feel right now.”

This Sweet 16 (mostly) madder than any before

Chadrack Lufile; Gregg Marshall

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.