Even the best NCAA tournament teams have their flaws

Throw out the past when trying to predict who will be playing in the future of this NCAA tournament.

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Dayton players celebrate

Dayton players celebrate their upset win over Syracuse in the third round of the NCAA tournament Saturday. Dayton isn't the only team that has defied expectations in its trek to the Sweet 16. (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images / March 22, 2014)

Only the very best teams in college basketball have advanced to the NCAA tournament's round of 16.

Take Dayton versus Stanford in the South Regional … please.

Dayton finished fifth in the Atlantic 10 Conference and absorbed a 26-point loss this season at St. Joseph's. Stanford tuned up for the NCAA tournament with an invigorating 25-point loss to UCLA.

UCLA is not one to talk, though, losing its last Pac-12 Conference regular-season game, by 18, at doormat Washington State.

Virginia, seeded first in the East Regional and playing Michigan State at Madison Square Garden, was uprooted by 35 points at Tennessee.

Michigan State is the hot pick to win the national title — never mind that 14-point home loss in December to North Carolina, which is home watching the rest of the tournament on TV.

Spartans Coach Tom Izzo said he feels increased pressure after being picked to win it all by two world leaders. "President Obama and President Vitale," Izzo said this week.

Maybe they didn't notice Harvard leading Michigan State, 62-60, midway through the second half of a game last week in Spokane.

Luckily for President Obama's bracket, Izzo's team rallied.

"I don't mind letting down alums, but man, the president?" Izzo joked. "I don't want to let him down."

Tennessee has proved to be Sweet 16 material despite its schedule being gruesomely marked by a 26-point loss at Florida.

Tennessee is in a Midwest Regional semifinal against Michigan, which lost by 18 earlier this season at Iowa, which lost to Tennessee last week.

So, Tennessee should hammer Michigan, right?

Connecticut and Iowa State earned a Friday night East Regional game in New York by taking out blue bloods Villanova and North Carolina, respectively.

No one expected much from Connecticut earlier this season after it lost by 33 at Louisville. The Huskies should be no match for Iowa State ... but wait, the Cyclones lost by 25 at West Virginia.

Wisconsin and Baylor play Thursday in the West's second-fiddle semifinal before Arizona and San Diego State, whose interstate highway-savvy fan bases should bolster Honda Center's attendance figures.

Wisconsin lost by 13 points to Minnesota and Baylor by 17 to Kansas, which just lost to Stanford.

The point here is that the first paragraph of this story should have read "Only the very best teams at this moment have advanced to the round of 16."

See, the only thing less important than the past in college basketball is the future. It's not how you played last month or last November, or how you're going to play next week. The question is: How will you play today?

"The best team who plays the best is going to win," Izzo explained. "No matter who's the favorite, who's the underdog … or who's picking you to win."

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