Tourney thoughts: Northern Iowa, SMC steal spotlight from KU, 'Nova
I picked Saint Mary's over Villanova at the start of the day, so I was less surprised by that result. The only thing that surprised me about it was that I picked it and it still happened; I'm used to it going the other way. But Saint Mary's is a really good team. The Gaels played well down the stretch this season and absolutely obliterated a very good Gonzaga team in that West Coast Conference final. Obviously,
You know what's funny: We had an 11-seed get into the Sweet 16 today in extremely impressive fashion and it was a complete afterthought, like it didn't even happen. Washington came out against New Mexico and really got after them. The Huskies just looked so much faster and were relentlessly attacking. New Mexico was never in the game. They may be an 11 seed, but they're playing at a much higher level.
I just love the way the lower seeds are coming out these days and really acting like they belong, acting like they can win. Northern Iowa was not in awe of Kansas at all. The Panthers know they're good and are used to winning.
The thing about Northern Iowa going forward is you have to contend with their half-court, grind-it-out style. I think Maryland would be a better matchup for UNI than Michigan State. Similar to Kansas, Maryland has to get up and down the floor to be comfortable, whereas Michigan State is capable of grinding more. Whichever team, Maryland or MSU, plays Northern Iowa will definitely come into the game with the understanding that they can lose, because if Kansas can lose to Northern Iowa, anyone can.
A close second was Kansas State's
They have to be feeling very good about themselves after this weekend. Coming into the tournament, if you said a 1-seed was going to lose in the second round, Kentucky would have been your first choice and Kansas would have been your last.
It's the nature of the beast that some folks are going to take shots at
Syracuse-Gonzaga is a good game right off the bat. How is Syracuse going to play without center
I have to say, though, when I looked at the lineup of games entering the weekend, I thought Saturday would be a little light and Sunday would be the bigger day. So watch Sunday somehow turn out to be a snoozer ...