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21 March 2017, 09:33 | Andy Ferguson
ACC struggling, Big Ten thriving in NCAA tournament
The only ones that did not were Villanova, and three ACC teams.
Turns out, we're not alone: There are no flawless brackets left for this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament after this weekend, and according to NCAA.com, only one bracket - out of the tens of millions filled out across NCAA.com, Bleacher Report, CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports, and Yahoo - even made it unscathed through most of Saturday.
It wouldn't be shocking for North Carolina to be upset before the Final Four, considering three of the top six title contenders are in the South region.
While UNC is the only ACC team to make it to the regional semifinals, even they haven't had an easy run. The Blue Devils, No. 2 in the East and the betting favorite to win the whole bloody tournament, lost, 88-81, to seventh-seeded SC.
But that didn't work against SC. That didn't stop them from bouncing back with five the next two years (which also saw a Duke national championship in 2015, a North Carolina national final appearance in 2016, and a Syracuse Final Four appearance that year as well), so we can't conclude that the conference is in real trouble. North Carolina is the only remaining team from the nine that started the tournament.
SEED THOUGHTS: The No. 4 seeds all advanced to the Sweet 16, the only line that didn't lose a team. Notre Dame came up short against West Virginia, Florida State was pounded by Xavier, and Virginia managed only 39 points in a loss to Florida.
MI has won seven straight games to rewrite its season - and it's helping the Big Ten do the same.
The Michigan Wolverines' hot streak continued, as they topped second-seeded Louisville to win their seventh straight game.
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The Wolverines (26-11) had a scary moment before the Big Ten tournament when the plane set to carry them to Washington slid off a runway during an aborted takeoff.
It would be surprising to see the national champion emerge from the East region.
While the Big Ten can puff its chest, the ACC can only cower. It is worth noting that only No. 11 USC has outperformed its seeding, but just having those three top-three seeds advance is a major improvement for the Pac-12. Brionna Jones had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Slocum scored 21 and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 19 for third-seeded Maryland (32-3), which will next face the victor of Monday's game between No. 2 seed Duke and Oregon. The No. 7 seed Gamecocks scored 65 second half points and second-seeded Duke committed 18 turnovers in an 88-81 loss in Greenville in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Miami lost by 20. They will face Duke killer SC in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
Viewed in a kind light, the carnage can be softened. Duke hasn't had a problem bringing in talented recruits or putting them in a position to succeed in the National Basketball Association; it has struggled to assimilate those young players with upperclassmen in the span of a year.
The three teams left are tied for the most of any conference.
Duke lost, quite simply, because their roster is - was - flawed, and the individual talent amongst their ranks was not enough to overcome it. What did anybody expect from Wake Forest, a play-in loser, anyway?
Just as last year's 16-1 record through two rounds meant that the ACC had an outstanding tournament, not that it was the best conference, this year's 7-8 record through the first weekend means that the ACC had a dismal tournament, not that it wasn't one of the best leagues in the country.
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