All of us college basketball fans learned something during the first weekend of the tournament. We learned that upsets will happen no matter how strong the top seed seems to be. We learned that no one is ever gonna be 100% correct during March Madness. Northern Iowa knows that no lead is ever safe during the tournament. But the really big take away from last weekend is that the ACC is the best college basketball conference in the nation.
During the first weekend the ACC, had the most wins by any conference in the nation. The ACC went 12-1 in the opening weekend. The only loss the ACC suffered was a Pittsburgh loss to Wisconsin. They are also sending a record six teams to the Sweet 16. No conference has ever done this. This is an incredible thing to see in this day and age of college basketball, where there is more parity in the game. The ACC had seven total teams in the tournament, and if Louisville was not on probation it could have easily been eight ACC teams in the tournament. In the Sweet 16 matchups, it is very possible that the ACC could have six teams advance to the Elite 8.
All 6 teams come into the tournament with different storylines. Let’s start with lowest seed left, Syracuse. Syracuse came into the tournament as one of the teams many say should not have been in the tournament. But they have proven so far that their patented zone defense is hard to deal with. And during this tournament they had to “upset” higher-seed Dayton. In the round of 32, had to beat Middle Tennessee, the team that beat Michigan State. Now in the Sweet 16, they will face 11-seed Gonzaga. Whoever wins that matchup will be the highest seed in the Elite 8 this year.
Next is Notre Dame. The Irish came into this tournament with a pretty bitter taste in their mouth. The last time they were on the court the North Carolina Tar Heels ran them off the court. So the Irish were hungry to reclaim glory to their name. The Irish got their real first shot at righting their wrong against 11-Seed Michigan. They beat the surging Wolverines to move on to the Round of 32, where they had to play 14-seed Stephen F. Austin. And it took the late game heroics of Rex Plfueger, to propel the Irish over the Lumberjacks. But next up for Notre Dame is another team of destiny, 7-Seed Wisconsin.
4-Seed Duke comes into this tournament after one of its most scrutinized seasons in a while, after one of the worst stretches Coach K has ever had with the Blue Devils. Even with a limited bench, Duke is here in the Sweet 16. The Blue Devils are highly dependent on the strength of their starting five, that includes one of the nation’s best players, Brandon Ingram.
3-Seed Miami has taken probably the hardest way to the tournament, but this team is definitely up to the challenge. The Canes were even underdogs to the 11-Seed Wichita State team and will probably once again be underdogs against the Villanova Wildcats. Miami G Angel Rodriguez and the Canes dare any “expert” to rule them out.
The two ACC number 1-seeds are still alive. UNC is in the East, and UVA is in the Midwest. UNC will have to fight it out with the historically great Indiana Hoosiers. And UVA will have to play the Iowa State Cyclones. These two matchups are very favorable for the two number 1-seeds. UNC has the height advantage over the Hoosiers and the Heels will force Indiana to cough the ball up. UVA will slow the pace down and make it hard for the Cyclones to get out in transition. The Cavaliers will key on Cyclones F Georges Niang and make the other players beat them.
If the weekend works how the ACC wants it to, there could be an all-ACC Final Four, which would lock in the ACC’s second title in a row.