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2022 NCAA Tournament - On To The Sweet Sixteen

And suddenly, the much-maligned ACC is looking pretty good.

Michigan State v Duke
GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 20: Theo John #12 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts following a blocked shot by teammate Mark Williams #15 during their game against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half in the second round game of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 20, 2022 in Greenville, South Carolina.
Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Can we start by a bit of crowing? Yes? Okay - ACC! ACC! ACC!

The ACC has three teams in the Sweet Sixteen and just missed having four. This from a conference that was supposed to be dreadful this season.

In the end, it wasn’t. Virginia Tech lost in the first round but did so after playing brilliantly in the end of the regular season and the ACC Tournament. UNC nearly blew a 25 point lead against #1 Baylor but they held on and they’re in the Sweet Sixteen.

Duke had a dramatic win over Michigan State, covered thoroughly elsewhere here, and Miami...Miami just ate Auburn alive. Ate Auburn like an after-dinner mint. Ate Auburn like Elvis on a fried banana sandwich.

Miami humiliated Auburn is what they did.

Walker Kessler was basically rendered useless, playing just 13 minutes and racking up lots of twos: two points, two rebounds and two blocks.

Jabari Smith, Jay Bilas’s favorite for the #1 pick in the NBA Draft, shot 3-16 (he did grab 15 boards though).

Miami controlled this game from beginning to end. Didn't trail for a second. The ‘Canes were quicker to the ball and consistently outsmarted Bruce Pearl’s #2 seeded Tigers.

Check out what Auburn’s Zep Jasper said about Miami before the game: “[t]hey are in the ACC and we’re in the SEC. We’re one of the best defensive teams in the country. They haven’t seen a defense like us.” Well, la-di-da. Wonder what he’ll be saying when he watches them play on this week.

Look, we have seen Miami a lot this year and we know they’re a good team. We just didn’t think they were capable of this level of dominance of a Top Five-level team.

But it continues one trend: the SEC and the Big Ten have just about been nuked out of this tournament and unless Arkansas, Purdue or Michigan does something very impressive, fans of those conferences should probably sit down and shut the hell up.

How bad was it?

Big Ten first:

  1. #7 Michigan State lost to #2 Duke.
  2. #12 Indiana lost to #5 St. Mary’s by 29.
  3. #4 Illinois lost to #5 Houston by 15 - after surviving Chattanooga by one on some late free throws.
  4. #7 Ohio State lost to #2 Villanova.
  5. #5 Iowa lost to #12 Richmond.
  6. #3 Wisconsin lost to #11 Iowa State.
  7. #11 Rutgers lost to #11 Notre Dame in the Western regional play-in
  8. #3 Purdue is still alive after beating #6 Texas
  9. #11 Michigan took out #3 Tennessee

And in the case of the SEC, look at this:

  • #2 seed Auburn lost to #10 seed Miami
  • #3 seed Tennessee lost to #11 Michigan
  • #2 seed Kentucky lost to #15 seed St. Peter’s. Kentucky wouldn’t even consider St. Peter’s arena for an intramural gym. You know it’s true!
  • #6 Alabama lost to #10 Notre Dame
  • #6 seed LSU lost to #10 seed Iowa State.
  • #4 Arkansas is the last SEC team standing. They barely got by #13 Vermont and #12 New Mexico State and now they have to deal with Chet Holmgren, Drew Timme, and the rest of the Gonzaga juggernaut.

Give the Big Ten this much: three of their losses came to higher-seeded teams and, in the case of Rutgers, to another #11.

Every SEC team that’s lost lost to a lower-seeded team.

Here’s the differential:

  • Kentucky - 13
  • Tennessee - 8
  • Auburn - 8
  • Alabama - 4
  • LSU - 4

The ACC, by contrast, is now 9-2 and is sending three teams to the Sweet Sixteen -and it probably should be four.

Still, three is better than the SEC, Big Ten, PAC-12 or Big East and as many as the Big 12, generally considered the best conference this year.

The SEC is sending just as many teams as the American, the WCC and the MAAC.

  • Big 12 - 3
  • ACC - 3
  • Big Ten - 2
  • Big East - 2
  • Big West - 1
  • SEC - 1
  • MAAC - 1
  • American - 1
  • PAC-12 - 1

Just one last note: we didn’t watch the Arizona-TCU game closely. However, it certainly looked to us like Arizona fouled on the last TCU possession in overtime. If the kid had let the shot go, instead of dunking it, Arizona would have won at the buzzer. They won in overtime instead, so who cares? A win is a win. But officiating is going to be discussed - again. And TCU probably has an argument.

Speaking of TCU, we didn’t watch closely, as we said, but Eddie Lampkin is a really fun player. Realistically, he’s too thick to have much of a career stateside, but he’s smart and competitive. He reminded us a good bit of Loyola’s Cameron Krutwig last season. Like Krutwig, Lampkin is not a natural athlete (or maybe he’s just overweight) but he understands the game at a high level and seems to love it. He’s fun to watch. He’s just a freshman, so remember that name. He has a chance to be pretty good.