68 to 16: The 5 biggest takeaways from the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Florida State vs Xavier
Mar 18, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Xavier Musketeers guard Quentin Goodin (3) reacts to defeating the Florida State Seminoles in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There many have been a shortage of shockers or upsets, but definitely no shortage of action-packed games from the first weekend of the Tournament. Just about every game, in some capacity, was competitive for the majority of the contest in crucial moments, with the higher seeds getting tested.

But we’ve whittled the field down to the final 16 teams standing. What were the biggest takeaways from the first weekend? Here’s what we took away:

1. A-C-C YA!

The Atlantic Coast Conference was, with little to no debate, the best hoops league top to bottom this season. So much so, they set a conference record with nine bid into the tournament, just two shy of the all-time mark set by the Big East back in 2011. Unfortunately, they started dropping like flies this weekend.

The ACC has just one team advancing to the Sweet 16 next week, and it’s No. 1 seed North Carolina. The superpower conference had six of the nine teams get to the Round of 32, only the Tar Heels were able to advance. Among the losses were a pair of 2-seed title favorites in Duke and Louisville.

Having said all that, entering Sunday’s action, the Tar Heels still currently had the highest odds at 5/1 of winning the national championship, according to VegasInsider.


To piggyback the lackluster showing of the ACC, the other major conferences have stepped up in a big way. Remember a year ago, the ACC was responsible for six of the Sweet 16. Now, only North Carolina can carry the torch.

But what about the other leagues. They have delivered thus far.

SWEET 16 TEAMS 3 3 3 3
HIGHEST-SEED REMAINING (4) Purdue (1) Kansas (2) Arizona (2) Kentucky

An added note about the Pac-12. They nearly had all four of their bids make the Round of 16. Southern Cal, who won both a First Four game and Round of 64 match-up earlier in the week, lost a nail-biter to (3) Baylor on Sunday. Overall, the Pac-12 is 8-1 in the Tournament.


Many people coming into the Tournament anticipated some upsets, at least in terms of seeding, given how much parity there was this season in college basketball. But so far, the South Region has not gotten the memo.

The Memphis-based region is turning in its top 4 seeds (UNC, Kentucky, UCLA, Butler) to the Sweet 16, the only region this year to have chalk be the outcome after the first weekend. Last year, the West Region was the culprit in not providing any stunners and seeing the top four seeds advance to the Round of 16.

Conversely, the East Region has been the most damaging to the higher seeds. Their combined seed total of the teams remaining in that quadrant is 22. That’s been inflated due to the top two seeds (No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Duke) losing to (8) Wisconsin and (7) South Carolina respectively.


You can now make that 31 times in the last 33 years that at least one double-digit seeded team has advanced through the first weekend into the Sweet 16. Cinderella is residing in Cincinnati this March on the campus of Xavier University.

The Musketeers had as impressive of a weekend as any team in the tournament. They toppled (6) Maryland and (3) Florida State in their two games played by a combined 36 points, which includes a 25-point shellacking of the Seminoles in the Round of 32.

It marks the eighth time in the history of the 64-team tournament format that there’s only one double-digit seed playing in the Sweet 16; second instance in three years. The X is not your average Cinderella team, however. This is their third trip to the Round of 16 in the last seven years.


This may or may not be expected given how common it is for the mascots of college athletics to be of the animal variety, but for this year’s Round of 16. They are taking over the dance.

Of the 16 teams remaining, 13 of them are some non-human life form. Here is a breakdown of the species:


*Click here for the history of the ‘Tar Heels’ in North Carolina

Strangely, only four mammals make up the eight in that department: 2 Wildcats (Arizona and Kentucky), 2 Bulldogs (Butler and Gonzaga), 2 Bears (Baylor and UCLA (Bruins)) and 2 Weasels (Wisconsin (Badgers) and Michigan (Wolverines)).

The three birds left are the Jayhawks (Kansas), Ducks (Oregon) and Gamecocks (South Carolina). The four humans are Tar Heels (North Carolina – see above), Mountaineers (West Virginia), Boilermakers (Purdue) and Musketeers (Xavier). And the lone reptile is the Gator, representing Florida.