Well the field of Sixteen is set, and there were a couple more surprising entrants added Sunday.
First, NC State is red hot, adding Connecticut to it's list of victims as they pulled the upset, 65-62
. Julius Hodge is playing as if he wants an NBA contract, and Elian Etimov is simply deadly from the arc. A lot of people said Herb Sendek needed this win in order to keep his job. I disagree. NC State fans are just disgrunted because they think they are entitled to a national championship and a consistent Sweet Sixteen berth. Sorry guys; Jim Valvano doesn't coach that team anymore.
Villanova beat Florida handily
, but is that really an upset? Yeah; the Gators are the SEC Champions, but (1). That's not a great feat considering there's only one SEC team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen (I'll talk about the SEC and the Big East later this week), and (2). They've had Kentucky's number since February. That the equivalent to the Tampa Bay Bucs consistently beating the Atlanta Falcons. Beating Kentucky doesn't make Florida a great team because they do it often, yet don't play well against equal or better talent.
North Carolina is pretty much the most dangerous team in the tournament, destroying Iowa State by 27
. I'll admit; I fell asleep watching the game. Hell, Carolina was up by 20 in the second half, and I felt it was a done deal. I didn't think the score was going to be this bad though.
It's funny, because going into the tournament everyone thought the Syracuse bracket was the toughest of the four. Now, they're saying North Carolina has the easiest trip to the Final Four. UConn, Kansas, Florida all fell over the weekend, and Friday UNC faces a Villanova team that just found out that their premiere inside player is gone for the rest of the tournament
. If/Once they win that, they then face the winner of NC State/Wisconsin. Things are looking pretty good on Franklin Street, but if they make the Final Four will they be battle tested when they finally face a considerable challenger? Who's to say.
So here's my rankings for the final 16 teams:
1. North Carolina
5. Oklahoma State
9. Michigan State
10. West Virginia
11. Texas Tech
12. NC State
I ranked them by the strength of their wins vs. their situation coming into this weekend. No doubt North Carolina is the hottest team in the tournament right now, and they're playing some tough basketball. Arizona is playing great too, and Washington has grown on me a bit. I haven't been impressed by either of Duke's wins, and while NC State/Wisconsin will be a tough game, it's doubtful if either beats the winner of UNC/Nova to get to the Final Four. Villanova is ranked so low because of Sumpter's injury, and that's the last thing they need when facing a beast like Sean May.
I'll give a review of the Sweet Sixteen matchups later this week.