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.