Five fun storylines from the first week of March MadnessCinderella all but stayed home despite a slew of "upsets"
ONE AND DONE? MORE LIKE NINE AND ALMOST NONE
The ACC got the most bids in the tournament, handing out dance cards to nine of their 15 teams. Six of those nine were Top 5 seeds and it all worked out right, all nine could have made the Sweet 16 without seeing a conference foe - and yet, after Week 1, only defending national runner-up North Carolina is left.
No. 11 Wake Forest, who was one of the last teams in, was bounced by Kansas State in the First Four, and after a No. 8 (Miami) and a No. 9 (Virginia Tech) were eliminated in the first round, five of the six teams that won their opener went home over the weekend. Of that group, No. 2 seeds Duke and Louisville were stunned by South Carolina and Michigan, respectively, while fifth-seeded Virginia was embarrassed by Florida, three-seed Florida State was waxed by No. 11 seed Xavier, and No. 5 Notre Dame was handled by former Big East rival West Virginia.
Even UNC, the No. 1 seed in the South, got a scare, needing a 12-0 run in the final three minutes to defeat Arkansas 72-65 in the second round. Not a banner week for the ACC, who, at 7-8 collectively, needs the Tar Heels to reach the Final Four to finish the tournament with a .500 or better record.
PAC 'EM IN
On the other side of the ledger, break up the Pac-12, who got four teams in and landed three in the Sweet 16. Arizona, Oregon, and UCLA are all in different regions (and all Top 3 seeds), so it's still possible that we could see Pac-12 matchups in both one national semifinal and the championship game.
Even the one Pac-12 team that was knocked out, No. 11 USC, didn't go down without a fight; they had to beat Providence in the First Four just to dance on the main floor, and then upset SMU in the first round before falling by just four points to Baylor in Round 2.
Fun fact: USC was also in a separate region, so had they pulled a VCU 2011, the tournament could theoretically have had an all Pac-12 Final Four.
Funner fact: The Pac-12 had the opposite luck in the NIT, going 0-3, as top-seeded Cal, No. 3 Utah, and No. 5 Colorado all lost in the first round.
CINDERELLA'S POWER BALLAD
College football has the Power 5 conferences, and when you slide to the hardwood, the Big East definitely is No. 6 on the depth chart. The rest of college basketball got 30 bids, but the only team left standing from anyone else is Gonzaga, who could've trademarked the term Cinderella with their run in the early-2000s and went a gaudy 33-1 this season.
There were some upsets in the first round and a couple of good stories left, including South Carolina's first-ever Sweet 16 berth and Michigan's amazing March run - but with 12 of the 16 teams left among the group of Top 4 seeds and the Gamecocks, Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers all power conference dwellers, the only real Cinderella is Xavier. The 21-13 Musketeers, a No. 11 out of that Big East, were the last at-large team into the main draw - they were ranked No. 41 by the committee, and No. 42 Providence played in the First Four - but have notched the only two wins by a lower seed in the West and won both of their games, against Maryland and FSU, by a double digits.
Overall, though, lower seeds were 5-27 in the first round and of those five, only Xavier won again this weekend. Oh, Davidson, wherefore art thou?
OH SAY CAN UC A WIN
No. 16 seeds are 0-and-forever against No. 1s since the tournament expanded to 64 in 1985, but thanks to the current format of the First Four, they are guaranteed two wins in the tournament every year.
One squad who is doubly grateful for that? UC-Davis, a former Division II power who won the Big West's automatic bid to reach the Division I NCAA Tournament for the first time. This year is only the Aggies' second trip to the D-1 postseason period - they lost to Stanford in the first round of the 2015 NIT - but thanks to the First Four, they beat North Carolina Central in the First Four for their first-ever postseason win before getting crushed by Kansas in the first round.
Things, unfortunately, didn't work out so well for the other three first-time dancers: Northern Kentucky, who won the Horizon League tourney in their fifth D-1 season and first as a postseason-eligible, got a No. 15 seed but lost by nine to their Bluegrass State big brothers at UK; Jacksonville State, who won the Ohio Valley automatic bid for their first postseason spot in 22 seasons in D-1, also got a 15 and lost by that exact margin to Louisville; and North Dakota, who won the Big Sky Tournament to claim their first-ever trip somewhere other than the CIT, were the West No. 15 and fell to Arizona by 18.
WE'RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, BUT ALMOST
South Carolina's run started on its home turf in Greenville, Florida and Florida State both spent the first two rounds in Orlando, and a few others played close to home during Week 1 - but Week 2 is a different story, as there is no true home state team playing in any regional.
Well, sort of, as Kansas will play the Midwest regional in a city that has their state name in it but is on the wrong side of Kansas and Missouri rivers. If you're stumped, the Jayhawks are at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri, which is still only about 45 minutes down I-70 from Lawrence, Kansas.
Only three other teams are even within 500 miles of their hometown, so KU will definitely have the shortest commute on the road to the Final Four.