Best and worst of the NCAA tournament
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to another session of Bracket Briefing, our attempt to provide you with essential information on the Big Dance — highlighting the Florida Gulf Coasts and Harvards of the college basketball world, and forecasting the Ali Farokhmanesh and Steph Curry moments before they happen.
Teams left in the field: 16
Soundtrack: Before you read any further, take a listen to this morning’s jam of the day.
At the water cooler: Whew! What a weekend in college hoops. Of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament, 52 have been eliminated after an elongated weekend that started with two 16-game marathons (Thursday-Friday) and culminated with two 8-game slates (Saturday-Sunday) made up of stunning upsets, highlight-reel plays, and as always…busted brackets. There’s even been dancing. Lots of dancing. But don’t expect to be productive at work this week. The madness is far from over and now the anticipation begins for the always intense Sweet 16 battles.
The glass slipper: If there was ever a Cinderella in the NCAA tournament, Florida Gulf Coast epitomizes the term. Yet there’s a difference between the “Dunk City” Eagles and the Virginia Commonwealths and George Masons of the past. It’s been how FGCU has been winning. Aside from a somewhat sluggish first half against Georgetown during that second-round stunner, this team has dictated the tempo and looked like the higher seed against the Big East champion and a perennial top-25 team, a bizarre realization considering this team just made history as the only No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16. Cinderella teams are always defined by moments — whether it be buzzer-beaters, ankle-breaking crossovers or no-no-yes dagger shots. What makes this team so beautiful? The highlight-reel dunks (18.5 % of their scoring comes from slams) and their confidence on the court. (And their rap video, let’s not forget). Every player on that team knows they’re writing history and they’ve been surfing that shock-the-world momentum since the start of the tournament.
Seeding breakdown: A look at the field after the first three rounds.