By all accounts, this has been a fantastic NCAA Tournament. After two rounds we have the Missouri Valley Conference staking its claim as a national power, the Pac-10 salvaging an off year, and two double-digit seeds reaching the Sweet 16. It all fits with the concept that this is the most "wide open field yet."
In fact, the prevailing feeling about this year's field is that anything can happen. You hear coaches talking about parity and experts saying that anyone can win it and after a while, you become convinced that this is the year that a team will come out of nowhere to cut down the nets. While this could certainly happen, the truth is that the giants are still lurking. UConn, the heavy favorite, has played poorly but remains in the field. Duke seems to be growing stronger every game. Memphis is wowing with its athleticism and depth, quickly turning into the kind of bully that UNLV was in the early 1990's (meaning: coming out of a middling conference, flying under the radar, and then blowing people away). Texas is still around. So is UCLA. The truth is that the Final Four will probably feature three of those five teams, in addition to the survivor of the Nova-BC-Florida-Georgetown bloodbath in the Minneapolis region.
The fact that some sense of order will probably be restored this coming weekend got me thinking about the possibility of the all number one seeds reaching the Final Four. Wouldn't that be the ultimate irony? 2006 seems to be the pinnacle of parity in college hoops, and this tournament is being hailed as the most wide open ever. So wouldn't it be the craziest development yet if, after all of the upsets and buzzer beaters, this thing went chalk into the Indy?
Considering that it is has never happened before, the smart money is on at least one of these top seeds going down. However, you have to think that it is bound to happen sometime. After all, the last two World Series winners were the Red Sox and White Sox. I doubt many people were calling for that in the winter of 2004. Not only that, but the fact is, the top seeds have a lot of momentum right now. Going into the tournament, Memphis was a popular pick to get bounced out early and Villanova's status was in doubt because of an eye injury suffered by star guard Allan Ray. One week later, both of those teams have answered all the questions and move into the regionals on a roll. Strangely enough, only the heavily favored UConn Huskies seem to lack momentum.