Which No. 1 team will fall first?
by Scott Gleeson and Paul Myerberg, 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.
The first word: Kansas almost became the first team in NCAA tournament history to lose to a No. 16 seed, before barely surviving a Western Kentucky upset in a 64-57 win on Friday. With two No. 1 teams playing tonight — the top overall seed Louisville and the lowest No. 1 team Gonzaga — now’s a sufficient time to ask when the first team will fall in the NCAAs. After all, only five times in NCAA tournament history (including last season) has the No. 1 overall seed won the title. Louisville cruised in the second-round by routing North Carolina A&T 79-48, while the Zags had trouble getting past an athletic Southern team. Tonight, Colorado State could pose more of a challenge for the favorite Cardinals, while the Missouri Valley’s Shockers could take down the highly-scrutinized Bulldogs.
Big Ten’s Dance dominance: While the Atlantic 10′s strong performance in the second round was well chronicled, Michigan State’s win against Memphis moved the Big Ten to 8-1 in the tournament, with Wisconsin’s loss to Mississippi in the round of 64 the league’s only blemish. While the Wolverines are the first Big Ten team to advance to the round of 16, another five teams could join them over the next 24 hours: Michigan State (currently in progress against Memphis), Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota.
“I am 100% pulling for the (Big Ten) conference, totally,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said Friday. “I’m pulling for every team in this conference. I think sometimes in recruiting, it helps when the conference does well, believe it or not. You look at SEC football and they just talk about it being the best conference… Even if you don’t go to Alabama, you go to somewhere else. The conference recruits sometimes.”
Towel tussle: With Michigan State’s lead over Memphis slowly slipping away … [For more on Bracket Briefing: Which No. 1 team will fall first?, click here.]