Thursday and Friday brought a lot of uncertainty for college basketball's best programs. This year's NCAA Tournament's first round featured ten double digit seeds advance to the Round of 32, a first in tournament history.
On Saturday, in the first eight games of the second round, it appeared that order was restored, with one glaring West coast exception.
Another Pac-12 school bites the dust
After Friday, the Pac-12 stood at an anemic 2-5 in the NCAA Tournament with only the Oregon Ducks and Utah Utes making the Conference of Champions proud. Oregon plays their second round game tomorrow against 8-seed St. Joseph's. Utah played tonight. They played -- just not very well. 3rd-seeded Utah got dismantled by the 11th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, 82-59.
This was billed as a battle of the bigs, featuring Utah's projected NBA Draft lottery pick, Jakob Poeltl against Gonzaga's center, Domantas Sabonis. Tonight was a win for Sabonis, big time. He finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds to Poeltl's five points and four boards. If the Zags looked like a real threat in their first round upset of Seton Hall, they look like a serious contender after clinching their spot in the Sweet 16 tonight.
1-seeds feeling sweet
Three 1-seeds had the opportunity to head to the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday and all of them took advantage.
The number-one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Kansas Jayhawks, looked like an absolute juggernaut at times on their way to victory over the 9th-seeded Connecticut Huskies, 73-61. They jumped out to a huge lead early and were able to withstand every desperate comeback the Huskies threw at them. Wayne Selden, Jr. led the Jayhawks with 22 points. They'll head to Louisville for the South Regional Semifinal, where they're next opponent is not quite set but they do know that the 3rd-seeded Miami Hurricanes will be joining them there after their defeat of Wichita State on Saturday.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are in their fourth Sweet Sixteen in six years after beating the Providence Friars, 85-66. Providence, led by point guard, Kris Dunn, hung around with the Heels for quite some time. But UNC's sheer athleticism and a 17-5 run with just six minutes remaining put Providence away. Brice Johnson had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Heels.
Lastly, the Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Butler Bulldogs, 77-69, behind an extremely efficient second half where Virginia shot over 60%. Virginia will take on the Iowa State Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen after their defeat of Arkansas-Little Rock.
Blue bloods versus blue bloods
Two of the true blue blood programs of college basketball met on Saturday. It was also a renewal of one of college basketball's oldest rivalries when the 4-seed Kentucky Wildcats and 5-seed Indiana Hoosiers met up. This was the most highly anticipated of the second round matchups and it lived up to the hype. In a back-and-forth affair, Indiana was able to outlast Kentucky, 73-67. This is the first time that a John Calipari-led Kentucky team made the NCAA Tournament and failed to at least make the Elite Eight. The Hoosiers face North Carolina in Philadelphia for the East Regional Semifinal next.
In a different type of blue blood battle, the defending National Champion Duke Blue Devils ended the Cinderella story of the Yale Bulldogs, 71-64. Blue Devils leaders, Grayson Allen and Brandon Ingram combined for 54 points on their way to clinching a spot in the program's 25th Sweet Sixteen.
Half of the Sweet Sixteen is set. The rest will sort itself out on Sunday. Only one more 1-seed needs to win to make it a perfect sweep for 1-seeds in the Big Dance's opening weekend. And for the Pac-12 to avoid being a laughing stock, Oregon better make it happen.