The bracket is not eliminated: All of the top 8 seeds advance to the Sweet 16 in the March Madness chalkboard
The bracket is not eliminated: All of the top 8 seeds advance to the Sweet 16 in the March Madness chalkboard

March Madness has arrived with visions of mayhem. Based on last year’s group, there wasn’t much reason to doubt it.

The only surprise so far has been the lack of pandemonium.

All eight top two seeds advance to the regional round for the fifth time. A two-digit number will join them. Most of the Cinderellas who staged March Madness exited the bracket long before midnight.

The blue-bloods and the big boys are headed to the Sweet 16 — and they all want more.

“I didn’t come back to make the Sweet 16,” Purdue big man Zach Eddy said after the Boilermakers’ concert. 106-67 win over the state of Utah. “I came back to make a run, a deep run. Nobody is happy with where we are now.”

Last year’s Final Four was unlike any other, a bracket-breaking foursome with no teams seeded higher than No. 4 for the first time since the bracket expanded in 1979.

Defending national champion UConn looked good in its bid to repeat this year, but lacked a dominant team during the regular season, opening the door for what was expected to be a wild NCAA tournament run.

It didn’t happen.

The upsets that mark March were limited, and the only real blow was Texas A&M’s Andersson Garcia’s game-tying 3-pointer in overtime against Houston. The average margin of victory in the first two rounds was 15.8 points, the second highest since 1985.

Purdue erased some of the disappointment of last year’s historic first-round upset with a pair of lopsided victories, setting up a Sweet 16 matchup with a Gonzaga team once again in the underdog role. The other seeds no. 1 North Carolina, UConn and Houston also made it to the Sweet 16.

The Cougars were the only ones tested and needed extra time to win Texas A&M 100-95. No other game involving the No. 1 seed in the scheme was less than 16 points.

No. 2 seeds Arizona, Tennessee, Marquette and Iowa State also advanced, marking the fifth time — first since 2019 — that all eight top-two seeds have reached the Sweet 16 since the seedings began in 1979.

No. 3-seeded Illinois and Creighton, along with fourth-seeded Duke and Alabama, also made it. The average start for the Sweet 16 is 3.3, just behind the 3.1 in 2019 and 2009.

Double digit seeds

Jack Golke of Oakland made the first big star in the NCAA tournament, hitting 10 three-pointers – second most in history the upset win by the 14th seeded Golden Grizzlies over No. 3 seed Kentucky. Gohlke hit six more 3-pointers against NC State, but the Wolfpack beat Oakland in overtime to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015.

That leaves No. 11 NC State, which had to win the ACC Tournament just to get into the bracket, as the only remaining double-digit seed after San Diego State beat No. 13 Yale in the final game of the second round.

“I think that’s what March is all about,” NC State big man DJ Burns said. “Some teams got here by winning their conference just like us, and that doesn’t mean they’re a bad team.”

Unbeaten ACC

The ACC had what was considered a down year with only four teams making the NCAA Tournament.

These four make the most of it.

Top-seeded North Carolina, Duke, Clemson and North Carolina State all made it to the Sweet 16, giving the ACC an 8-0 record through the first two rounds.

The ACC is the sixth team to advance four teams to the Sweet 16 since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985. The Big East was the last to do so in 2003.

Great eastern beast

Big East coaches, players and fans were disappointed when the bracket was revealed when only three teams made it to the bracket.

The league is going so far with three teams that have made it to the Sweet 16 and a 6-0 record.

UConn looks good in its bid to become the first repeat champion since Florida in 2006-07, winning its first two games by an average of 28 points.

Marquette ended its early exit woes by reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2016. Creighton is also in the regional round after coming within seconds of reaching the Final Four a year ago.

“You see other leagues that got the bids that our league deserved underperformed,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “Obviously the mistake was made. It sucks.”

Great ratings

Limited buzzers and a lack of Cinderella runs didn’t dampen interest in this year’s NCAA tournament.

The first two rounds averaged a record 8.3 million viewers. Interest rose even higher for Saturday’s second-round games, averaging 10.8 million viewers, another record.


AP March Madness bracket: and coverage:

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