There's 16, They're Suitable, and They're Fine
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All season long, the Southeastern Conference was overlooked by most basketball analysts.
But as we head into this weekend's Sweet Sixteen, the SEC not only has three teams left, they're the only three teams that were invited to the Dance.
With Tennessee starting from the First Four, the league is 7-0 so far in the tournament. Florida, the overall No 1 seed, was expected to be playing in Memphis this weekend, but most experts had Kentucky losing to Wichita State and not many thought the Volunteers could advance, being one of the last teams in. Now, people are giving the Vols a shot against Michigan and Kentucky a real shot at eliminating defending champion Louisville, the Wildcats' arch-rival.
The Big Ten has three teams remaining. Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin all have legitimate aspirations about reaching the Final Four. The Pac-12 is the third conference to have three teams still in action. Arizona was supposed to be there, along with UCLA, but Stanford upset both New Mexico and Kansas to make it to Memphis.
The newly formed AAC struggled with its image as the Big East castoffs, but along with Louisville, Connecticut has won two games to advance. The Huskies upset Villanova and now get to play close to home at Madison Square Garden against Iowa State on Friday.
With Kansas out, the Big 12 is represented by Iowa State and Baylor. The Bears in particular have picked it up after struggling in January. That leaves three leagues with one team left: the Atlantic 10 (Dayton), the Mountain West ( San Diego State), and the once powerful ACC, which has lost teams like Syracuse, Duke, and North Carolina and is now only represented by Virginia, which will is facing a tall order at the Garden against Michigan State.
The league champions are already forgotten, as well as the league tournament champions. No matter where a team finished in its conference, it only matters that it's dancing this weekend. And for them, how sweet it is!