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Sweet 16 Thoughts And Observations

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1) There's Kentucky ... and there's everyone else.

Before the Tournament started, it was Kentucky, UNC and everyone else. Now, with Kendall Marshall injuring his wrist as well as Fab Melo's suspension, every team still alive in East, West and Midwest (with the exception of Ohio) has good reason to feel like they can make a run to the Final Four.

Click after the jump for a few more random observations from one of the wildest first weekends in Tournament history.

2) Royce White had one of the greatest three-minute stretches I've ever seen.

In the span of four minutes at the start of the second half, Iowa State's 6'8 270 (not a typo) point forward went coast to coast and dunked on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, bull dozed Terrence Jones on the low block for an easy and-1 and then took the ball from Anthony Davis to start a fast break he finished by finding a trailing shooter.

His swag was so high CBS had to cut away from him cussing out Kentucky's trio of lottery picks on the front-line before commercial. Of course, the Wildcats went on a 34-10 run. Shades of Blake Griffin vs. UNC in 2009.

3) Duke lost to a bunch of guys going pro in something other than sports.

I really appreciate people pointing out how big a loss Ryan Kelly was for the Blue Devils. You know there's only so far a team can go with 7, and not 8, McDonald's All-Americans in their line-up.

Side note -- what have the Plumlees been doing in the off-season? How can a bunch of skilled 6'10+ athletes have zero semblance of a legitimate low post game? As someone who played post in high school, I'm baffled that more D1 guys don't have a drop step and a hook shot. It isn't that difficult.

4) Baylor survives ... for now.

Are the Bears still flagrantly misusing their personnel on a game-by-game basis? Is Scott Drew still rolling out a 1-3-1 zone that most high school coaches wouldn't use? Or should we just call Perry Jones III a pussy and move on to the next team?

I'd love to watch a Baylor/Kentucky Elite Eight game, but don't look past Xavier. I took them at 40:1 to win the regional, and if Indiana could receive a second miracle from the basketball gods against Kentucky ... we might get some "grown ass men" in the Final Four.

5) Tom Izzo is an incredible coach.

There's a lot more to coaching than making fairly routine tactical adjustments (Scott Drew notwithstanding), mean-mugging on the sidelines and leaking stories to reporters. The progression of Adreian Payne and Keith Appling from the start of the season to now has been incredible. That type of player development is the hallmark of guys like Izzo and Bill Self.

6) Florida removed Norfolk State's slipper, took their money and left them for dead in a ditch.

Bradley Beal, Kenny Boynton and Patric Young would be one of the most athletic trios in the NBA. If Erving Walker, who is generously listed at 5'8, doesn't decide to go into Kobe mode, the Gators have a good shot at making Billy Donovan's fourth Final Four.

7) I have no idea what's going to happen in the East Regional.

I took a flyer on four long-shots to make the F4 (Xavier, Florida, Gonzaga and NC State), and I still believe the Zags had the best chance of the four to make it.

I don't trust Syracuse w/o Fab Melo on the interior, a Wisconsin team whose only reliable shot-creator is Jordan Taylor, a Cincinnati team who beat Florida State in what was essentially a Royal Rumble and an Ohio State team built around Jared Sullinger.

8) Sullinger is not Kevin Love so let's just stop that right now.

Kevin Love is one of the most unique players in basketball: very rarely is the second best rebounder in the world also an elite three-point shooter who can beat Kevin Durant in a shooting contest.

Jared Sullinger is an unathletic 6'9 260 big man who makes his living bulldozing smaller players on the low block, has no defensive value whatsoever and is already struggling with a back injury. If you watched Ohio State sneak by Gonzaga, you saw Robert Sacre, a marginal back-up center at the next level, almost completely shut him down for large stretches of the game.

9) What is UNC going to do?

Not only was Kendall Marshall one of the best passers to come through the college game in recent memory, but the Tar Heels have two other scholarship back-court players (Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald) out with season-ending injuries as well.

As a fan of basketball, this sucks. UNC's demolition of Creighton was a sight to behold and their game against Kentucky in December was an instant classic. I'm not really sure what they can do now.

10) This is a cool video of Clark Kellogg:

Since I really have nothing to say about Ohio, here's a cute video of Clark reacting to his son reaching the Sweet 16 as he was calling the Lehigh/Xavier game. Even the all-around white bread corniness that is Jim Nantz doesn't detract from this nice father/son moment.

11) NC State is legit.

They've got a first-round NBA PG in the 6'5 (!!) Lorenzo Brown, one of the best shooters in the country in Scott Wood, a solid all-around 6'6+ wing in CJ Williams and a nice three-man big rotation that features CJ Leslie, a potential lottery pick whose an intriguing combination of Tyrus Thomas/Hakim Warrick.

I'm not quite sure why they struggled so much in the regular season, but they've got the horses to run with anyone in the country.

12) What in the holy hell happened to Kansas against Purdue?

Seriously, I didn't get a chance to watch this game. On a talent basis, this would have been as calamitous a loss as VCU, Bucknell or Bradley. Robinson vs. Leslie and Taylor vs. Brown in the next round has some serious NBA draft intrigue.

At this point, I wouldn't feel comfortable picking anyone but Kentucky to be in the Final Four, so if anyone has a crystal ball feel free to leave your predictions in the comments.


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