By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor
If you take a look at the remaining teams in the Sweet 16, a clear trend emerges. Every team seems to belong here: Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, UNC, Louisville, Michigan State, etc. There are no Cinderellas left to take everyone by surprise.
This is not an accident. This is by design.
On Selection Sunday, the committee picks the 68 best college teams in the nation to square off against one another in this tournament. Similarly, they seed these teams from one to 16, in an effort to give the best teams the easiest path while making those weaker teams really earn every win. The end goal, as with any athletic tournament, is for the best teams to compete with one another to win it all.
Sure, there have been surprises along the way. No one expected Villanova or Virginia to be knocked out at this point. UCLA being in that tournament was contested, and them making it this far was unexpected.
This is why they play the games; anything can happen. However, certain outcomes are far more likely than others. Hampton could have shocked Kentucky, but they didn’t. Duke could have been destroyed by Robert Morris, but the outcome was as expected with the Blue Devils claiming victory.
This is a good thing, despite some people arguing that it is less exciting or doesn’t engage the casual fan as closely. As we get into the later rounds of the tournament, we want the best teams going head to head. If Kentucky has a bad night and loses to Hampton, the most likely outcome has the Pirates losing their next game and a tournament without its most talented team. As sports fans, we really don’t want that (maybe if you hate Kentucky it doesn’t sound too bad, but you get the point).
Looking at this remaining field of 16, it feels almost perfect. Teams like Kentucky and Wisconsin have proven that their No. 1 seeds were deserved. At the same time, teams like Wichita State and Michigan State have played better than their seeding consistently to earn the chance to move forward. There may be no more Cinderellas, but we should have exceptional basketball ahead of us. Outside of the Kentucky/WVU and Gonzaga/UCLA matchups, no outcomes in any of the remaining matchups would genuinely shock me.
Personally, I’m excited about this, and you should be too. The rest of this tournament is going to be competitive, and at the very least, one of the best teams should win.
And that my friends, is the best ending we can ask for.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshuaLWiggins