Down to the Final 16 Teams

        We began with 65 teams, but less than a week in, we are down to the final 16 teams and what a road it was to get here. Upsets were more prevalent than ever as were overtime games and buzzer-beaters. You couldn't really ask for more as a college basketball fan: 48 games... 4 overtime games, including 3 on the opening day... 16 upsets, including 11 by double-digit seeds... 5 game-winning shots... 13 games decided by three points or less... Out of the millions of brackets filled out this year, the last remaining "perfect" one was gone by the third day of the tournament, at which point there were still 23 games left. The opening day kicked off on Thursday with a double-overtime thriller between BYU-Florida, and ended early Friday morning with New Mexico holding off Montana. The Tournament's No. 1 overall seed, Kansas, fell at the hands of No. 9 Northern Iowa, while No. 2 Villanova needed a late-surge in overtime to defeat No. 15 Robert Morris, before falling in the second round to No. 10 St. Mary's.  No. 14 Ohio, was the only NCAA Tournament team with a losing conference record in the field, but that didn't matter much as they stunned Big East power, No. 3 Georgetown. The nation's former No. 1 team, Texas, fell on the first night at the ends of Wake Forest's Ish Smith's buzzer-beater. No. 4 Purdue, without their star Robbie Hummel, escaped two upset-minded teams, No. 13 Siena and No. 5 Texas A&M to advance to the Sweet 16. All of the talk of the "lowly" Pac-10 conference seemed irrelevant as Washington and California knocked off two big East teams, Marquette and Louisville. No. 12 Cornell became the first Ivy League team since 1998 to win a Tournament game, upsetting No. 5 Temple and then taking down No. 5 Wisconsin to advance to the next round... No. 6 Xavier has made the round of 16 each of the past three years with wins over No. 11 Minnesota and No. 3 Pittsburgh...
#9 Northern Iowa
#5Michigan State

#1 Kentucky
#12 Cornell

#6 Tennessee
#2 Ohio State

#11 Washington
#2 West Virginia

#1 Syracuse
#5 Butler

#1 Duke
#4 Purdue

#6 Xavier
#2 Kansas State

#3 Baylor
#10 Saint Mary's
With three days before the Round of 16 begins, we take this time to catch our breathe from one of the most entertaining weekends in NCAA Tournament history.

        The term "upset" resonated through the weekend so much so that the top half of the South Region features the only matchup between the highest possible seeds to reach the Sweet 16: No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Purdue. Every other matchup features at least one upset team, if not two (No. 9 Northern Iowa vs. No. 5 Michigan State in the Midwest Region and No. 10 St. Mary's vs. No. 3 Baylor in the South Region). With Kansas out of the field, Kentucky looks to be the new favorite to win it all; they have won their two tournament games by an average of 29.5 points. Syracuse, the West Region's No. 1, came in with some speculation, losing two straight games prior to the Tournament, but has been impressive thus far, handling Vermont and Gonzaga easily. Cornell is the lowest seed to advance to this year's Sweet 16 as a No. 12 seed. Cornell shot 61.1% against No. 5 Wisconsin, the highest field goal percentage the Badgers have allowed in Bo Ryan's nine-year tenure. They are the most experienced team in the Tournament, making it each of the last three years and featuring eight seniors on their squad. On the other hand, Kentucky is the least experienced team remaining in the field, with no seniors in their regular rotation and exactly zero games of Tournament experience prior to this year.

Will the remainder of this Tournament be as unpredictable as the first two round? We will find out Thursday when Sweet 16 play begins.

----'s All-Tournament Team (Through the opening rounds)

John Wall, Kentucky

        Entering this year's tournament, Kentucky's regular rotation players had exactly zero games of NCAA Tournament experience. Albeit inexperienced, Wall leads a supporting cast of two fellow-freshman, a sophomore and a junior to the Sweet 16 with averages of 15.5 points and 9 assists per game (tops in the tournament), running the transition break and finding open shooters on the wing. His strong play assures him of the 2010 NBA Draft's first choice.

Louis Dale, Cornell

        Cornell's senior point guard has turned heads with his high-level of play, leading Cornell to their ever NCAA Tournament win (now 1-16) and then to the Sweet 16. He had 21 points and 7 asssists in their opening round upset over Temple and 26 in their second round triumph over Wisconsin. The Big Red entered postseason play with the reputation as the most accurate team in the nation from the perimeter and Dale & Co. have not disappointed, knocking down 17 3s in two games and shooting 58.8% from the field in the Tournament.

Ali Farokhmanesh, Northern Iowa

        Farokhmanesh was the fourth-leading scorer for Northern Iowa during the regular season as a relative unknown to the rest of the basketball nation, but he has made a name for himself on the national scene this March. His game-winning 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left gave UNI the upset bid over UNLV for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1990. But then he followed up his heroic performance with a game-high 16 points, including the 3-point goal that sealed the game with 35 seconds remaining against the Tournament's top overall seed, Kansas. He has 9 3-pointers in his team's two games.

Jordan Crawford, Xavier

        Crawford just might be the most explosive scorer in this year's tournament thus far. He is averaging 27.5 points (55.6% shooting from the floor), with 9 made 3-pointers in Xavier's two wins; he is also chipping in with 6 rebounds and 3 assists a game. Initially, Crawford's claim to fame was his dunk on NBA superstar, LeBron James, this past summer, but after stringing together several strong performances on the national stage, Crawford is making a name for himself the more traditional way.

Wesley Johnson, Syracuse

        The Orange have eased through their first two tournament games, winning by an average margin of 22.5 points and their junior forward is big reason why. Johnson was named the Big East Player of the Year, but his best performances of the year may be ahead of him. He recorded his 12th double-double of the season, with a career-high 31 points to boast. His perimeter shooting on offense and quickness and length on the defensive end have been lethal leading to tournament averages of: 24.5 points, 10 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

Omar Samhan, St. Mary's

        In one word, the senior center has been "dominating" through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, carrying his St. Mary's Gaels to two consecutive upsets over No. 7 Richmond and No. 2 Villanova. He is the Tournament's leading scorer entering the round of 16, averaging 30.5 points (on 75% shooting from the floor) 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. The WCC's 2010 Defensive Player of the Year is helping out his 2010 Draft stock with his offensive performances.

Honorable Mention:

Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest), Eric Bledsoe (Kentucky), D.J. Cooper (Ohio), Jimmer Fredette (BYU), Quincy Pondexter (Washington), Isaiah Thomas (Washington), Evan Turner (Ohio State), Jordan Williams (Maryland), Ryan Wittman (Cornell), Chris Wright (Georgetown)


Tournament Notes: The Big East sent eight teams, or half of its conference into NCAA Tournament play, but is left with only two in the Sweet 16. It's teams went 6-6 through Sunday evening.... The Big Ten sent five teams to the Tournament with three of them advancing to the Sweet 16. Big Ten teams are 7-2 in Tournament play so far... The Pac-10, which has felt like a one-bid league this year, had two teams in the field, and while Cal made a second round exit, Washington still remains... One ACC team remains (Duke) in the field. The league as a whole went 5-5 to date... 11 conferences are represented in the Sweet 16...