Some fun conference facts and stats associated with the Sweet 16 (if you haven't already seen, heard, or thought of them yourself):
1. There are 10 conferences represented among the teams in the Sweet 16. So much for conference affiliation determining your ceiling in college basketball...but we already learned that last year, didn't we?
2. Which conference has the most teams alive? Well, of course, that would be...the ACC! They're the only conference with more than two teams alive. Counting the "First Four" result (Clemson victory), the ACC is 7-1.
3. There are as many Mountain West conference schools still playing as there are Big East schools. The MWC is 4-1 thus far.
4. There are as many schools from the city of Richmond, VA still alive as there are Big East schools. Richmond is in via an automatic bid, but if they had not won the A-10 tournament, would have not been guaranteed a spot in the field. VCU, by most estimations, was the second largest question mark among the First Four. So much for the assumption that, well, that the regular season matters all that much. Speaking of that...
5. In the Big East, the two schools that are alive--Connecticut and Marquette--finished 9th and 11th, respectively, in their conferences. Their cumulative conference record: that's right, 18-18. Oh, and those two schools had to beat other Big East schools just to make it this far.
6. Not to pick too hard on the Big East, who put together a fantastic body of work as a conference during the regular season (yes, don't fool yourself...they did). While the Big East has a cumulative tourney record of 9-9, the Big 12 is sitting at .500 as well: 4-4. (Won't be mentioning that the one remaining Big 12 team has strolled into one of the easiest paths, statistically, to a Final Four ever. Oops, I just mentioned it.)
7. The SEC is 4-3, yet their schools both face tough, tough matchups in the next round. The Pac-10 is sitting at 4-3 with their lone remaining representative facing a top seed as well.
8. On the more positive side, the Big 10 is 7-5 and has two big-time favorites for advancement alive. Then, you have the Colonial Athletic Association, which is sitting pretty at 4-2 and has a team looking like a buzzsaw still alive.
9. Of the sixteem teams still alive, six of them rank among KenPom's top 10 in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, led by...Florida State at #1, of course! The lowest: VCU at #111. Aside from VCU, every other team is in the top 75 defensively, with a much wider variation than...
10. The Offensive Efficiency side. There are also six in the top 10, led by overall #1 Ohio State. The lowest rated Offense remaining: Florida State at #126 (WOW). The other 15 teams are all in the top 40 offensively. FSU proves if you do one thing great, it can advance you two rounds. We'll see whether or not they prove the theory that you have to be more well-rounded to advance any further true. That said, they're facing a team that is 33 spots lower than them in the overall rankings.
11. Does tempo matter? There are five faster teams (in the top 100 in tempo) alive, starting with UNC at #16. There are five sloooooooooooower teams (in the bottom 100 in tempo) still playing, starting (of course) with Wisconsin as THE SLOWEST TEAM EVER KNOWN TO MANKIND THIS SEASON. Dead last. That means 6 teams reside in the middle 145 of the tempo ratings in Division I. What this tells me: do what you do...just do it well. Which proves two other theories: the Fastest 40 can continue to succeed at a high level with the correct pieces in place, and of course, that Germans love David Hasselhoff.
Well, that's all I can think of. General conclusions:
-The regular season truly means nothing. Whoever plays well at the right time, catches lucky breaks with the correct matchups, and plays their best when it counts will succeed. Just like baseball, where a team like the '06 Cardinals can win a World Championship by getting hot, It's all about timing. However...
-Regular season success still must be applauded. Because there is no specific recipe for success in the tournament (unless you count "seniors" or "NBA talent" as a benchmark, which is cloudy at best), an impressive regular season must be celebrated. That's the same reason why the 2006 Detroit Tigers, and the 2004 Cardinals, can proudly reflect on their pennant seasons. I'll always be of the mind that the 2004 Cardinals would have just clobbered the '06 version...but that's why they play the games on the field. And, that's why they play the games on the court.
Cheers, everyone. Here's to more jackassery from the press!