A guide to the NCAA’s regionals
Just when you think the first weekend of the NCAA tournament couldn’t possibly top itself, it happened again.
Last year’s ride was a wild one, filled with massive upsets that blew up brackets and spectacular performances that made it one of the most entertaining starts in tournament history.
This year’s version was even better, the best weekend on the sports calendar starting with most of the brackets blown out on the first game of the first full day and including a four-point play to send a game to overtime.
Now that we’ve had time to catch our breath, it’s time to hold on tight again with the regional rounds up next.
Here’s some of what to keep an eye on:
THE BIG BOYS
Florida. Gators were the No. 1 overall seed and did nothing to diminish that.
Arizona. That defensive performance against Gonzaga has to be causing some sweaty palms among the other 15 teams still left.
Michigan State. Izzo and the Spartans Storm the Sweet 16, Part XII.
Louisville. Defending national champs on another roll.
Virginia. Cavaliers have proven the ACC sweep and No. 1 seeding were deserved.
Dayton. Archie Miller has the Flyers flying high, just like big brother Sean’s Arizona Wildcats.
Tennessee. Vols aren’t exactly a mid-major, but they are a bit of a surprise to get this deep after having to sweat out Selection Sunday.
Stanford. See above.
San Diego State. Aztecs appear to be on the verge of a huge breakthrough.
Kentucky. We know, the team with the second-most national titles in history is no upstart, but Coach Cal and his latest crop of NBAers-in-waiting had to claw their way into the bracket after some shaky moments during the regular season.
Nick Johnson, Arizona. Great two-way player and leader who’s already pulling down All-America honors.
Russ Smith, Louisville. Like Johnson, he’s a finalist for the Naismith Award.
DeAndre Kane, Iowa State. Kane has been the king through the first two rounds of the bracket.
Kyle Anderson, UCLA. A 6-foot-9 point guard who can rebound, score and facilitate.
Shabazz Napier, UConn. A shorter version of Anderson from the East.
Nik Stauskas, Michigan. Best pure shooter left in the bracket.
Kentucky-Louisville, Friday in Indianapolis. The Bluegrass rivals have had some great games in the past. This one could be epic.
Florida-UCLA, Thursday in Memphis. Two power programs at the top of their games.
Baylor-Wisconsin, Thursday in Anaheim, Calif. The clash of styles is going to be fun to watch.
Arizona-San Diego State, Thursday in Anaheim. The Wildcats won an earlier meeting this season. Both teams may be better now.
.850-Baylor’s postseason winning percentage (17-3) over the past six seasons, best in Division I among schools with multiple NCAA tournaments in that span.
5.0-Assist-to-turnover ratio of Iowa State’s Monte Morris, leading the nation.
7-0-The SEC’s record in the NCAA tournament so far, best among all conferences.
8-Turnovers per game by Wisconsin, best in the nation.
14-Years since Iowa State had reached the Sweet 16.
16-Wins without a loss for Rick Pitino in the regional semifinals.
19-Years since Virginia last reached the Sweet 16.
28-Games of Florida’s winning streak.
DID YOU KNOW?
Arizona’s Nick Johnson is the nephew of Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson.
Iowa State center Isaiah Austin is the nephew of Isaac Austin, who played for seven NBA teams over nine seasons and was the NBA’s 1997 most improved player.
Louisville guard Terry Rozier is afraid of squirrels.
Kyle Anderson’s grandfather, Clifton Anderson, had a two-year NFL career with the Chicago Cardinals in 1952 and the New York Giants in 1953.
Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue’s brother, Douglas Hogue Jr., played linebacker for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers.
Florida’s Alex Murphy is the son of Jay Murphy, who played four NBA seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Bullets from 1984-88.