Sweet, Sweet 16
I have a question. When did the use of "chalk" become so prevalent in the vernacular of college basketball analysts? Seriously. Chalk. The brackets have gone chalk. No where in the dictionary is chalk defined as "a measure of the amount of top seeds in the NCAA tournament to march on to the Regional Semifinals." I know. I quadruple checked to make sure I wasn't wrong. See for yourself.
Regardless, call it chalk, call it strong seeding, call it what you want... it is, plain and simple, a very sweet, Sweet 16. Add up the seeds left over and you get 49. The best possible is 40. Record aside, you could argue that Arizona is more like a 4 than a 12. Then the number would be 41.
It is amazing. Why? Because there is almost always a Cinderella of sorts come the second weekend of the tournament. But not this time. In fact, there is a general shortage of mid majors, period. Those that remain - Memphis, Gonzaga, and Xavier - are routinely in the mix with the big boys.
Enough about that though. It's been beaten to death by the media already. What I care about is the fact that Michigan State and Purdue have moved on (as I predicted) and are looking very strong right now. Both beat solid Pac-10 foes in round two and are poised to make more noise in the round of 16.
Purdue has the tougher road, but can definitely beat UConn. Michigan State was written off by the pundits before the USC game and now those same knobs are picking Kansas. Let them.
The Big East might have five teams in, but it won't rule the Final Four. Two get in, at best - mark my words.
The rest and the NIT
The rest of the Big Ten did the league pretty proud in the Dance and NIT. Wisconsin battled back and made a run at the Sweet 16 before losing to a very good Xavier team. Michigan fought adversity in the name of Blake Griffin and made a splash. Minnesota ran into a Texas team that is really better than a 7 seed but was respectable. Ohio State had its chances in a devastating loss to Siena, but the Saints gave Louisville a run for their money. Only Illinois dogged it although WKU is a solid squad.
Kudos to Penn State for advancing to the NIT Semifinals. Bring another one home for the conference.