The next two days will determine if my mom and I will be wildly celebrating MSU, Notre Dame and Wisconsin making it to the elite eight, somewhat celebrating if at least two teams make it to the next round (ok, if it is MSU and Notre Dame we will still be wildly celebrating), barely celebrating if only one team makes it to the weekend (ok, if that team is MSU we are still wildly celebrating and if it’s Notre Dame we are still celebrating but feeling bad for MSU), and if all three teams lose on Thursday and Friday there will be dead silence. Following are 10 storylines we will be watching for in the March Madness Sweet 16 (we chose 10 instead of 16 for extra Big Ten Conference mojo for the weekend):
- If MSU, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Gonzaga make the Final Four it will be a perfect Sweet 16/Elite 8. If Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Louisville make the Final Four there will be complete silence and I would not expect another blog from my mom on the topic. I will have to take over the highlight commentary for the Final Four.
- West Virginia is coached by Bob Huggins, who has an 8-2 record coaching against John Calipari. The West Virginia coach and team will be entering the game believing they have a chance on Thursday to give Kentucky their first loss since last year’s loss to Connecticut in the NCAA Championship game on April 7, 2014.
- NC State is entering the Sweet 16 channeling Jimmy V’s 1983 magic since that was the last time NC State beat two top seeds in a tournament and that team went on to win the 1983 NCAA Championship. NC State’s confidence should be high when they play #4 Louisville after already taking out #1 Villanova and defeating Louisville 74-65 back in February.
- Five schools have both the men’s and women’s teams remaining in the NCAA Sweet 16 (Louisville, Notre Dame, Duke, Gonzaga, and North Carolina).
- After watching the first 48 games, the one factor that was instrumental in a number of wins was offensive rebounding. Look for that to be a pivotal factor again this weekend.
- Thanks to FiveThirtyEight.com we now have a ruling that “Tom Izzo is the best coach in modern NCAA Tournament history – by far.” Since I failed to survive my statistics class, it is best I refer you to the article by Neil Paine on their site for an understanding of the analysis. Tom Izzo, Mr. March, will be leading his team against Oklahoma late Friday night in what is expected to be a fast-paced game.
- Notre Dame has been on a winning streak since beating Louisville on March 4th when some of the players began wearing Stephen Curry’s latest shoe, Curry One, by Under Armour. Let’s hope the shoe karma has them flying against Wichita St. tomorrow night (shoe info is from the New York Time’s article “Notre Dame Rides A Streak with Shoes Like Highlighters” by Ben Shpigel).
- Two ncaa.com Best-Dressed Coaches remain in the Sweet 16. We still could have a best-dressed final game if Mike Brey’s Notre Dame plays Louisville, coached by Rick Pitino.
- It is possible to have an all ACC Final Four. The ACC started the tournament with six teams and they have five teams remaining and an 11-1 record. With eight more wins they could have Louisville or NC State, Duke, North Carolina and Notre Dame in the Final Four.
- The other hot conference is the Pac-12 who started the tournament with four teams and have three remaining (Arizona, UCLA, and Utah) and a 7-1 record. The Pac-12 could potentially have two teams in the Final Four.
Go State!! Go Notre Dame!! Go Wisconsin!!