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The Blue & Gray Press | June 24, 2017

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Sweet Sixteen: As It Should Be

by JOEY MERKEL

It seems that the clock has struck midnight early this year for the all the Cinderellas in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This year there does not appear to be any George Masons as the only seed left lower-than-a-five-seed is University of Arizona and they should have their hands full dealing with No. 1 Louisville this Friday.

Yes, the Sweet Sixteen is set. In the end just like a like a real “Super Sweet Sixteen” girl who didn’t right color Mercedes she wanted, tears are sure to be shed at  by Sunday night. Some will be tears of joy and some tears of sadness. Tears of lost games, won games and of bracket busters.

And though, Wake Forest completely screwed my bracket by phoning it in against Cleveland State, a team that only made the tournament by winning their conference, I won’t dwell on the matter.

You know I’m just not that type of guy that dwells on sports happenings that end by screwing me over. I don’t think about when Jeffrey Maier interfered with Derek Jeter’s home run to give the Yankees the lead over the Orioles and cost us the pennant. I don’t dwell on things like that. It’s not like thinking about that is going to change history, right? Right? Right.

It’s not like I’m going to blame Wake Forest. I didn’t even put any money on my bracket, and it’s just silly to get that caught up in something meaningless like a bracket, right? Right? Right.

Anyway, in two of the four regions, the one, two, three and four seeds are all still alive and in the third it’s the one, two three and five seed. It seems that Arizona may be an anomaly this year getting a little lucky by missing Wake in the second round. Instead they made quick work of Cleveland State, winning by 14.

In last year’s tournament for the first time in NCAA men’s basketball history, all four number one seeds made it to the semifinals and it certainly seems feasible that it will happen once again.

The only number-one seed that doesn’t look dominant is Pittsburgh, who I have winning the whole tournament. However, I also feel that they may have one of the easier paths to the championship.

The University of Connecticut has been in top form since entering the tournament, however it has been obvious that they have missed Jerome Dyson. The potential Elite Eight match-up between Oklahoma and North Carolina could be one of the best games of the tournament.  Tyler Hansbrough versus Blake Griffin is what college basketball fans have been waiting for all year. After that, the winner might get to take on DeJuan Blair of Pitt, another potentially great match-up.

Some people may say that this tournament is about upsets. I wholeheartedly disagree. When you want to find out who the best team in the country is, you don’t want the best teams playing a three-point shooting happy team that happens to be shooting 75 percent in the opening round game and upsets them by a couple points in overtime. It might be exciting at the time but in the long run the tournament and the players suffer.

All these kids want to win the tournament, but I don’t think any player on a number-one team would be satisfied with playing a 12-seed in the finals and beating them by 35.

In a perfect world, the number one-seeds would make it to the Final Four every year because they are supposed to be the best. Of course that doesn’t matter because every sports ranking system in college is flawed, so naturally some of the better teams could get two or three seeds.

In the end, the seeds rarely matter. A team that many considered one of the best teams in the country before the tournament makes it unanimous by the end of the tournament.

The only thing you can do is not dwell on the fact that your bracket totally got screwed up when the worse team had a great game against the better team, right? Right? Right.

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