The Elite Eight marks the halfway point of the NCAA Tournament, but don’t blink. It has the shelf life of chicken nuggets.
By the time your head hits the pillow tomorrow night, we’ll be down to a Final Four and find out whether the selection committee is any better at seeding teams than the cooks at your local McDonalds.
Three of the four teams handed No. 1s — Gonzaga, Baylor and Michigan — are still in the field, which is average. But so are three Pac-12 Conference teams — No. 6 USC, No. 11 UCLA and No. 12 Oregon State — which definitely is not. Needless to say, the road would have been a lot smoother for the Pac-12 entries if their league got anywhere near the respect the Big Ten and Big 12 carried inside the room where it (seeding) happens.
USC and UCLA were the last two teams to claim their seats Sunday. The Trojans handily beat fellow Pac-12 member and seventh-seeded Oregon, while the Bruins needed overtime — after a last-second hiccup — to put away No. 2 Alabama 88-78.
“I’ll never live that one down,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said afterward. “The kids bailed me out.”
In the two other games, Gonzaga looked unbeatable one more time while steamrolling No. 5 Creighton 83-65, while Michigan had surprisingly little trouble shaking No. 4 Florida State 76-58, once again displaying the kind of balance and depth to upend the Zags’ (29-0) quest for a title and the first perfect season since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers.
With files from the Associated Press