The only surprise about the NCAA Tournament on Thursday and Friday was a lack of surprise.
But did things ever change over the weekend.
Villanova was the first blue chip to fall, followed by Louisville. The former was the No. 1 seed in the East (though most weren’t expecting it to make the Final Four), while the latter was the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, which houses the Kansas Jayhawks.
But the best was saved for last when Duke, which had become the trendy pick to win it all, was stunned Sunday night by former Kansas State coach Frank Martin and his South Carolina Gamecocks.
The fall of the Blue Devils was seismic. Most of the big-time college “experts” on ESPN had Duke as a lock in their Final Four. The Blue Devils were loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans and were so talented that Harry Giles, who was the top high school player in the country last year with Kansas’ Josh Jackson, couldn’t hardly get off the bench.
The Blue Devils’ demise was a signal that things are starting to get wild.
When the smoke cleared Sunday following UCLA’s struggle past Cincinnati in the final game of the first week, here’s what we’re left with:
• East •
South Carolina vs. Baylor
Wisconsin vs. Florida
• Analysis — This regional has been shredded by the upset bug. I just can’t trust Baylor, but I think it will get past South Carolina. Wisconsin and Florida is a toss-up, but I’m going with Florida and then it will advance to the Final Four.
• South •
Butler vs. North Carolina
Kentucky vs. UCLA
• Analysis — What a great game Kentucky and UCLA should be, it’s worthy of a national championship game. I picked Kentucky to make the Final Four and I’m not backing off. However, North Carolina survived a huge second-round scare and sometimes that propels a team to greatness.
• Midwest •
Kansas vs. Purdue
Oregon vs. Michigan
• Analysis — Purdue’s size is going to give KU problems, but the Jayhawks’ speed will be the difference. Michigan is the Cinderella story after Week 1, but I like Oregon. I had picked Louisville to advance out of here, but now I’m thinking Kansas is going to advance, especially since the next two games are in Kansas City.
• West •
Gonzaga vs. West Virginia
Xavier vs. Arizona
• Analysis — I’ve had Arizona over West Virginia in the regional final from Day One. Nothing I’ve seen is going to change that.