…and no, the fact that games are being played in Anaheim isn’t even one of ’em.
It’s OK to uncrumple your bracket now. Even if Middle Tennessee and Stephen F. Austin and Northern Iowa aren’t done giving you night sweats, they’ve been vanquished and in their place, a bunch of favorites, a bunch of teams used to being in the Sweet 16 and pretty much the entire ACC sans Pitt.
This tournament came out of its flat spin over the weekend. Lower seed teams won Thursday and Friday 13 times. By the end of the weekend, the tide had turned back toward the favorites as only a trio of underdogs advanced to keep dancing toward the Elite 8.
And so, before we get to the list, it should be noted that familiar faces abound. All teams in 2016’s Sweet 16 have been there before and six of 2015’s third rounders are also back, including last year’s eventual championship game contestants, Duke and Wisconsin.
Here are mostly 16 boring-ass factoids about the Sweet 16 besides, you know, Anaheim:
16) Though six of the teams that remain are from the ACC, the highest-seeded team they’ve taken down thus far is no. 7 Dayton. The rest of the Power 5 conferences combined have only eight teams remaining. That’s a big swing considering a week ago I could barely stop myself from taking the over that the Pac-12 (six teams at the onset) would win six games total—a number I thought the conference would eclipse by end-of-day Friday. Now Oregon has to win out to get there.
15) Northern Iowa became the first team in the history of college basketball to blow a 12-point lead in the final minute of a game. Texas A&M rattled off a dozen points in 44 seconds to get it to OT Sunday. For its part in the collapse, Northern Iowa had only eight turnovers the first 39 minutes and 30 seconds of regulation …and four in the last 30 seconds. It all fell apart for the Panthers faster than measured discourse at a Trump rally.
14) Stephen F. Austin, which entered Sunday with the nation’s longest winning streak at 21 games, shot 51.5 percent from the field, assisted on 19-of-29 made field goals, committed a season-low six turnovers …and still managed to lose for the first time since 2015.
13) “The tournament is crazy,” Mike Krzyzewski said Sunday. Which means it’s officially anything but crazy. For the record Coach K thinks Hagar slacks with fewer than four pleats are crazy.
12) BTW, this is Coach K’s 23rd sweet 16. Yes, he’s got more Sweet 16 appearances than every other coach combined (11) times two. Only two schools (North Carolina and Kentucky) have more Sweet 16s all time than Coach K.
11) Kentucky schools being absent from the Sweet 16 for the first time in almost a decade is sort of like when you’re out of Kettle Chips. You expect them to be there, but when they’re not, you shrug, find something else—and probably something that’s better for you.
10) Maryland in the second round went 1-of-18 from beyond the arc and still cruised past Hawaii. This proves nothing about how good the Terps are but everything about how bad the Bears were against the Warriors in the first round sans leading scorers Tyrone Wallace (hand) and Jabari Bird (back), and after their assistant coach Yann Hufnagel was fired for alleged sexual harassment just before tip-off.
9) Villanova isn’t annoyingly good as they are just annoying. Think Jim Carey in Yes Man.
8) Oregon doesn’t match up well against down-tempo teams like St. Joe’s and Duke. St. Joe’s had the formula for most of the second half Sunday with slow, measured, spittle-flecked, foul-drawing basketball. However, should Oregon and Oklahoma both advance to the Elite 8, take the over and get ready for March’s first 160+ game in Anaheim Saturday.
7) Notre Dame is terrible. They just somehow find a way to make opponents play a little worse and that makes them seem like a reasonable solution. They’re the Microsoft of this year’s tournament.
6) Thanks HBO for making sure Gonzaga made it into this year’s tourney. Now if you could just do something to make Vinyl equally watchable.
5) Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig was 3-for-17 in 3-pointers the previous three games but hit six of 12 including two in the final 30 seconds to bury Xavier. Also, not that the Beastie Boys are looking to re-form, but Bronson Koenig is a great MC name for that genre.
4) Overheard at the Hyatt Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino Sportsbook Thursday: “Boeheim’s back? Who’s he coaching for? Or is it his son?”
3) In fact, rediscovering Jim Boeheim is like finding your old Fountains of Wayne CD at the bottom of a moving box you never unpacked. You think, hmmm, I actually do remember them being good.
2) It’s in Charles Barkley’s rider that he gets all the jelly bellies from the teams that have lost from TNT’s candy bracket.
1) I still have a £3,500,000-to-one ticket written by Lloyd’s of London that there will be a Ronnie James Dio reference sometime between now and the end of the championship game. It’s the only reason I keep watching.