Johnny Dawkins and Stanford are going to the sweet 16. Dawkins’ squad pitched a defensive gem against 2 seed Kansas today–Andrew Wiggins and friends were flummoxed by Stanford’s zone defense and shot just 33%. Wiggins himself was as quiet as Conte Forum on game night, finishing with just four points.
Stanford is a 10 seed. Their entry into the sweet 16 is simultaneously a sweet surprise, made possible by their first round win over New Mexico in addition to the win over KU. But it is also far from the only unexpected thing going on in the NCAA Tourney’s South Region.
In fact, the South Region has been easily the most unpredictable corner of the bracket thus far. It was in the South where 12 seed Stephen F. Austin stunned (or, one might say, VCU’d) VCU, taking down Shaka Smart’s fifth seeded Rams in a wild overtime classic by shooting 53% from the field.
And it was in the South where 11 seed Dayton knocked off Ohio State in a thrilling nail biter. The Flyers didn’t stop there, though. They proceeded to squeeze by Syracuse last night, putting a sour end to a Syracuse season that started with an unbelievable 25 game winning streak. The win got Dayton to the sweet 16 too, where their stifling defense (Syracuse failed to manage a single made three against the Flyers) will be pitted against Stanford’s in what is sure to be a low scoring grind.
The Dayton-Stanford matchup guarentees that a double digit seed from the South Region will make it to the elite eight. Meanwhile, two out of the region’s top three seeds (Syracuse and Kansas) are already headed home.
Even Florida, the region’s top seed and the number one seed in all the land, has experienced some turbulence–the Gators found themselves in an unexpected dogfight in the first round with Albany. Florida did find a way to win, though, and came back strong with a blowout victory over Pitt in the second round.
What’s up with all the surprises in the South? Maybe it comes down to seeding. KU probably never should have been a 2 seed–they entered the tournament with nine losses on their resume and without injured star center Joel Embiid. The young Jayhawks never fully put it together this season, struggling defensively at times and offensively at others. Syracuse, on the other hand, limped into the tournament. The Orange lost five of their last seven games going into the Dance.
Stephen F. Austin might have been another misseeded (ok, not a word) squad–they haven’t lost since November.
Or maybe there’s just something magical about the South Region. After all, it was in the South Region that Florida Gulf Coast made their magical run to the sweet 16 last year.
Whatever the reason is, nearly every game in that area of the bracket has been an instant classic. And many have had surprising results.
We’re only waiting on one more round of 32 game in the South before we move forward to the sweet 16: tonight’s battle between Stephen F. Austin and 4 seed UCLA. If the results so far are any indication, another incredible game should be on tap, and some good news might be ahead for fans of the Lumberjacks.
The South Region is bananas. While it might be killing your bracket, for those college basketball fans who just wanna have fun, it’s hard to beat.