Is making the Sweet 16 something a team can brag about?
Obvious question. Yes, it’s something to brag about.
But it’s apparently not a rhetorical question because it prompted an entire story by ESPN’s Dana O’Neil that made for interesting reading.
Take Syracuse. The Orange went to the Sweet 16 in 2010 and ’09, but went four years without making it that far in-between. During Jim Boeheim’s tenure, the Orange have been to the Big Dance 28 times and made the second week in 16 of those appearances. It’s not automatic.
Maybe that’s why he was so emphatic about when the Orange made it this season.
“By the way, it still matters,” he told O’Neil.
“I’ve always thought it’s a good thing to get there, to get to the Sweet 16. The really good thing about it is you still have a chance to go further.”
And there’s the rub. Elite programs expect to go to the Sweet 16 every season. But those are just expectations. The reality is the Sweet 16 is not a regular occurrence, even for the likes of North Carolina, and Kentucky, both of which have been this far seven times since 2000. Michigan State has eight Sweet 16s since 2000. Kansas, nine. Duke has 10. That’s the most (and is also a little insane that the Devils have only missed the second weekend twice since 2000).
Nobody makes it every season. For schools who rarely advance this far – this is Ohio’s first trip since 1964 – it’s obviously cause for celebration. But I’d argue every program, no matter the expectations and history involved, deserves to heartily enjoy in the Sweet 16.
Winning two games in a tournament setting isn’t the pinnacle of achievement. But it’s rare enough that it shouldn’t be taken for granted, either.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.