1. The run is over for Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet
Two of college basketball's most accomplished players of all time took their exit today from the game as the Wichita State Shockers were eliminated by the Miami Hurricanes in Providence. Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, who've been part of a team that made the Final Four, ran through a regular season unbeaten, made a Sweet 16 and won NINE NCAA Tournament games together will never play another game of college basketball. As a fan of the sport, it's sad to see 'em go.
2. Angel Rodriguez and the Hurricanes might just be getting started though
Miami was excellent against Wichita State on Saturday afternoon and their usually stout defense. Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan were dynamic, scoring a combined 46 points against the Shockers whilst shooting 14-of-22 from the field. The 'Canes were always looking dangerous this season but it might be time to start taking them very seriously. Villanova or Iowa will have their hands full in Louisville in the Sweet 16 next weekend.
3. Indiana-Kentucky probably shouldn't have happened in the Round of 32
The NCAA Selection Committee made quite a few gaffes this year. One of them might have been seeding Kentucky as a 4 and Indiana as a 5 in the same region. The Wildcats and Hoosiers deserve a lot better than the matchup that ensued Saturday night, which sent Kentucky packing with a rare first weekend loss (the first to happen under head coach John Calipari). The games still have to be played, but this one probably should have happened in the Elite Eight. Not in the first weekend, for goodness sake.
4. The Hoosiers are mighty, mighty dangerous
Speaking of that game, suddenly Indiana looks pretty damn good. The assortment of wings and guards that IU dishes out wreaked a lot of havoc vs. UK on Saturday evening in Des Moines, and could give North Carolina fits in the Sweet 16 in Philadelphia next weekend. Tom Crean may have gotten shellacked at the beginning of the year, but there's absolutely no denying the incredible job he's done this year in Bloomington. You think anyone's calling for his head now that IU beat rival Kentucky Saturday night? Don't think so.
5. The UConn Serpent's head was cut off
The Huskies were dismissed rather unceremoniously and underhandedly Saturday by the Kansas Jayhawks. Thus, UConn's magic finally run out after a ridiculous run through the AAC Tournament and a well-played effort against Colorado in the Round of 64. So there won't be any worrying if UConn will be making a run in the NCAA Tournament after coming out of nowhere...
At least not until 2017.
6. Malcolm Brogdon is a monster
The Virginia Cavaliers' ace Malcolm Brogdon put on a hell of a display in Raleigh Saturday night. The ACC Player of the Year and two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year played fiercely against the Butler Bulldogs, helping stop the suddenly hot Andrew Chrabascz among others. Brogdon proved why without a shadow of a doubt he's one of the best players in the country and will be pivotal to UVA's successes as they head for the Sweet 16.
7. Second half Tar Heels are the best Tar Heels
North Carolina trudged through the first half against Florida Gulf Coast on Thursday and then came out swinging. North Carolina followed that up by trudging through the second half against the Providence Friars... and the same thing happened again. The Tar Heels flexed on the Friars, pushing the lead up to 20 at one point whils running on all cylinders, basically. UNC is a prime contender to win the National Championship for a reason and if the Tar Heels keep playing like this, it's hard to imagine anyone else cutting down the nets in Houston.
8. The slipper still fits in Spokane
Gonzaga moved on to the Sweet 16 once again with a dominant performance against the Utah Utes. Domantas Sabonis and Kyle Wiltjer helped fuel the Zags again on Saturday night and for their reward, they'll now face either Syracuse or Middle Tennessee for the right to play for the Final Four next weekend. Seems like the one year we let Gonzaga fly under the radar is the year they may actually do the damn thing, eh?
9. The Pac-12 is having a miserable time
Geez. As if the first two days weren't bad enough, the Utes get bombarded by Gonzaga on Saturday night in Denver. It's not the greatest of looks for the conference, especially if you're one of those people who make sweeping generalizations about conferences based on NCAA Tournament performance. And... oh...
10. The Big East is one disastrous Sunday away from misery, too
Butler and Providence weren't favored to win their games against Virginia and North Carolina by any means. In fact, it was probably incredibly unlikely. The Bulldogs and Friars, to their credit, played tough against the Cavaliers and Tar Heels before all hell started to break loose, especially so in the latter matchup.
Now, though, the attention turns to highly-seeded Villanova and Xavier. The Wildcats and Musketeers face two seven seeds from the Big Ten Conference - Iowa and Wisconsin - on Sunday and the pressure is squarely supplanted on them to get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
The dead horse has been beaten multiple times over about this, especially regarding 'Nova. Nonetheless, it's gut check time.