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Power 5 conferences dominate Sweet 16 field


Comparing college football and college basketball success can often be like comparing apples to oranges, but now that we have the Sweet 16 field set in Sharpie in men’s college basketball, we can see how the power conferences are stacking up on the hard court and compare that to what we witnessed on the gridiron last fall.

Of the 16 teams left standing in the men’s NCAA Basketball tournament, 14 come from a Power 5 conference. The ACC has two number one seeds still standing in North Carolina and Virginia and also has Miami, Duke, Notre Dame and Syracuse still competing. Not too shabby for the ACC, which also saw its football champion, Clemson, run the table last football season all the way to a spot in the College Football Playoff national championship game. Do not forget the ACC sent Florida State to the New Years Six, which may be as close as we have to an equivalent to the Sweet 16 in college basketball. The Sweet 16 will be a fun one for the ACC with matchups against Big East champion Villanova (Miami), top seed and Pac-12 champion Oregon (Duke), Big Ten blueblood Indiana (North Carolina), a second Big Ten opponent in Wisconsin (Notre Dame), Big 12 member Iowa State (Virginia) and born-again Cinderella Gonzaga (Syracuse). Could we see six teams from the ACC in the Elite Eight? Probably not, but there appear to be some favorable matchups in the bunch and you should never really count out Duke this time of year.

Despite some early exits in recent days, the Big 12 is still sitting in a decent position with three teams entering the second week of the tournament. Kansas (the complete polar opposite of its football program) is playing with its top seed in the south. Oklahoma is holding strong with its second seed in the west. Iowa State has prevailed as the four-seed in the Midwest.

The Big Ten took some big hits this weekend with Big Ten championship game participants Purdue and Michigan State bowing out early and Iowa getting rolled by Villanova on Sunday. The Spartans reached the College Football Playoff and NCAA tournament and never held a lead once in 100 minutes of combined competitive action. Wisconsin, a year after playing for the title, took down a strong Xavier team (Wisconsin would crush Xavier in football, a sport the Ohio-based school no longer plays). Indiana got by Kentucky and now prepares for the Tar Heels. Meanwhile, Maryland will look to take down Kansas in the South.

Texas A&M is the SEC’s last team standing after an improbable comeback in the final minute against Northern Iowa on Sunday. Should the Aggies make a title run for the first time in school history, it would give the SEC a championship double-dip in football and men’s basketball. The SEC was the last conference to pull off such a feat with Alabama winning the BCS national title in the 2012 season and Kentucky winning the men’s basketball tournament a few months later.

West No. 1 seed Oregon is the last team from the Pac-12 to continue playing. The Ducks may face the toughest challenges with Duke and the winner of Texas A&M-Oklahoma coming up this week.

Be sure to stay on top of all of the tournament madness with our friends over on College Basketball Talk.

Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick doesn’t sense momentum for CFB Playoff expansion

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We’re at the dawn of a new season in college football but for a lot of folks, the upcoming campaign is a lot more about the ending than the beginning. We’re talking of course about the thing that dominates the debate in the sport for much of the fall: the College Football Playoff.

Though it seems like we’re stuck at four teams in the postseason event for the foreseeable future, expansion of the playoff is a topic that seems like a never ending well. Most want it, but few in power seem to be pushing for it.

That point was reiterated this week by Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. The leader of a program who made last year’s edition of the final four and one of the more powerful people in college athletics recently told the South Bend Tribune that he doesn’t see a move to six or eight teams in the event anytime soon.

I don’t want to speculate on that. I don’t sense a lot of momentum,” Swarbrick said. “But again, this is a group of individuals who cares about college football and think about it all the time. And so that’s all you want, a process where people are always talking about how to make the game better. But I don’t sense any particular momentum for change right now.”

If anybody would have some insight into the thought process regarding expansion, it’s bound to be Swarbrick — who sits on the CFP Management Committee and has his school president on the overarching CFP Board of Managers.

Perhaps something will change by 2025 when the postseason contract comes up with ESPN but until then, get used to four teams.

Missouri AD Jim Sterk is even more mad about NCAA penalties after Mississippi State case

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At some point in the distant future, Missouri fans, coaches, players and administrators will forget about the sanctions that the NCAA handed out to their football program.

That day is not today however.

Hot on the heels of Friday’s decision by the NCAA to slap the wrist of Mississippi State over a somewhat similar academic fraud case, Tigers AD Jim Sterk is telling anybody who will listen just how wronged his school was in the wake of what happened at his SEC rival.

“We believe that the penalties imposed in the recently decided and factually similar case (at Mississippi State) further illustrate that the penalties imposed on Mizzou were excessive and inconsistent with previous case precedent,” Sterk told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. We have never wavered from our stance or the merits of our appeal and remain hopeful it will be successful.”

The Tigers are hopeful that an appeal will be decided in the fairly near future and, obviously, that it will be a favorable ruling.

There are a handful of differences between Mizzou’s and the Bulldogs’ cases and enough to make comparing them apples to oranges despite being under the broad umbrella of academic fraud. We’ll see what ultimately ends up happening but something says that short of a complete reversal, Tigers fans and others sporting the gold and black won’t be happy with the NCAA for a long, long time.

Wisconsin confirms Jack Coan will start for Badgers

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The latest completely unsurprising quarterback decision? Step right up Wisconsin!

As has long been expected, the Badgers confirmed via their Week 1 depth chart release on Sunday that junior Jack Coan would be the Badgers starting quarterback for the upcoming season:

Coan was an obvious choice for Paul Chryst given his experience at the position and one wonders what took the program so long in naming him the guy given his five starts last season, including leading a blowout of a Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl. He threw for 515 yards and five touchdowns (against three interceptions) last year and replaced a rather ineffective Alex Hornibrook down the stretch.

With Hornibrook transferring to Florida State in the offseason and both Graham Mertz and Chase Wolf being freshmen, picking Coan to lead the team under center was an expected end result.

Perhaps the far more interesting name on the Wisconsin depth chart is that of wide receiver Quintez Cephus as the backup behind Kendric Pryor. While the former’s talent undoubtedly makes him one of the top options in the passing game, it’s still notable to see his name pop up given that he was so recently reinstated to the team following his acquittal of sexual assault charges earlier in the month.

Cephus has been practicing with the team but he did miss all of last season while dealing with the legal issues and will have less than two weeks of practices under his belt before the opener at USF on Aug. 30.

Either way, we at least know where he stands in the pecking order for the Badgers and who will be throwing him passes this season as UW gets set to make another run at the Big Ten title.

Georgia DL Bill Norton arrested on alcohol-related charges

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The SEC East sure is having itself a weekend. And only a handful of teams can say that’s a good thing.

Hot on the heals of Tennessee DB Bryce Thompson getting arrested, Georgia is now dealing with an arrest of their own. While the charges are not quite as serious as those in Knoxville, they are still enough to make Kirby Smart blow a gasket or two.

As per DawgNation, Bulldogs freshman defensive lineman Bill Norton was booked on a number of alcohol-related charges early Sunday morning and eventually released on bond. Record show he was cited for driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane/improper driving and minor in possession of alcohol.

A court date does not appear to have been set just yet in the matter.

While there seemed to be little chance that Norton saw action in the opener against Vanderbilt on Saturday night, his arrest probably ended any slim hope of seeing the field or traveling with the team to Nashville.

A four-star prospect coming out of high school in Tennessee, Norton picked Georgia over fellow SEC rivals Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others.