Virginia is attempting to become the first squad from the league to make the Final Four since eventual national champion Duke in 2010. The only time the ACC has ever gone four consecutive years without a Final Four team was 1958-61.
- Bio | E-mail | Recent columns
- Video: UVa gets mention on Fallon's "Tonight Show" Pros/Cons segment
- Virginia's NCAA tournament journey runs through revered Madison Square Garden
- U.Va. extends ACC's Sweet 16 streak with dominant victory over Memphis
- Virginia Cavaliers
- Michigan Wolverines
- Atlantic Coast Conference
See more topics »
Not that such conference concerns resonate much with players or coaches. Pride in program, school and one another are far more central.
Other bracket musings:
•The resolute protests of national media such as radio host Dan Patrick and CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel notwithstanding, I'm not buying the conspiracy theories that the tournament selection committee purposely arranges irresistible matchups such as Friday's Midwest Regional semifinal between rivals Louisville and Kentucky, the past two national champions.
Call me naïve, but I believe past committee chairmen such as Craig Littlepage, Terry Holland and Mike Tranghese when they've told me that the panel spends so much time selecting and seeding teams, that altering the bracket to create marquee games is impossible, given the pressing deadline of CBS' 6 p.m., Selection Sunday show.
•Good news for Virginia fans, and media, frustrated by three consecutive late starting times: Sunday's Elite Eight games in the East and Midwest Regionals are scheduled for afternoon tips on CBS.
Both contests are set for the 2 p.m.-7 p.m., window, leading into "60 Minutes." Times won't be announced until pre-dawn Saturday, but if Michigan advances to the Midwest final, where the Wolverines would face Kentucky or Louisville, and where CBS' lead announce team of Jim Nantz and Greg Anthony is assigned, chances are the East will play early.
•Dayton, Stanford and Tennessee give the regional semifinals at least three double-digit seeds for the fifth consecutive season. Only four times in the seeding era (1979) have all the 10s and below vanished the first weekend, most recently in 2006.
With Dayton and Stanford clashing in the South semifinals Thursday in Memphis, the Elite Eight will include a double-digit seed for the fourth time in the last decade. The others were George Mason in 2006, Davidson in 2008 and VCU in 2011.
•This marks the third time in the four years of the 68-team bracket that a squad from the First Four, the NCAA's moniker for the play-in games, has reached the second weekend. VCU started the trend in 2011 by winning five games in 12 days to reach the Final Four; LaSalle advanced to the Sweet 16 last year, and Tennessee has this season.
•Friday's East Regional semifinals will be the first NCAA tournament games at Madison Square Garden, and in New York City, since 1961. Among the three first-round games at MSG that season, ACC champion Wake Forest, led by Len Chappell and Billy Packer, defeated hometown St. John's.
•Don't hold your breath, but the bracket could produce a national title game reminiscent of the January 2013 Super Bowl in which John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens defeated brother Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers.
If both win three more games, Dayton and Arizona, coached by brothers Archie and Sean Miller, respectively, would clash for the championship. Sean played in the Big East at Pittsburgh, Archie in the ACC at North Carolina State.
•With its talent and draw, top-seeded Florida in the South Regional rates as the weekend's most probable survivor. Led by Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin, the Gators face UCLA on Thursday, with the winner playing Dayton or Stanford on Saturday.
A third national championship would make Florida's Billy Donovan the sixth coach to win three, joining John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, Adolph Rupp, Jim Calhoun and Bob Knight. Donovan is 48, and the lone coach to win his third title at a younger age was Knight, who was 46 in 1987 when Indiana claimed the most recent of its championships.
•The South Regional should stage a one-on-one tournament among the four coaches. Donovan, Archie Miller, UCLA's Steve Alford and Stanford's Johnny Dawkins could go back in the day.
The East Regional coaches aren't far behind with Virginia's Tony Bennett, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Connecticut's Kevin Ollie and Michigan State's Tom Izzo, the latter a Division II All-American at Northern Michigan.
•Virginia's last regional semi, in 1995, ranks among the top-five victories in program history, a 67-58 upset of top-seeded Kansas, in Kansas City, no less. Led by Harold Deane, Curtis Staples and Junior Burrough, the undersized Cavaliers overcame Jayhawks bigs Greg Ostertag, Raef LaFrentz and Scot Pollard.
Two days later, Virginia lost to second-seeded and reigning national champion Arkansas.
•Don't know about you, but I was never a threat to collect Warren Buffett's billion. My bracket crumbled Thursday when N.C. State, Oklahoma and Saint Joseph's lost, all in overtime.
I picked only half of the Sweet 16, but with seven of eight regional finalists and my Final Four of Louisville, Florida, Arizona and Virginia intact, redemption is possible.