Mar 13, 2012, 3:39 PM EDT
The bulls-eye is now firmly on Syracuse, the top seed in the East.
The No. 16 seeds have never won an NCAA tournament game vs. a 1, going 0-108 since 1985. There have been close calls – Georgetown-Princeton in ’89, Michigan State-Murray State in ’90 – but it’s never happened. But as Ken Pomeroy notes, the 16s are rated unusually high this season.
By various ratings, Lamar is the best 16 seed that’s ever been in the field. Vermont and UNC Asheville are the fifth- and sixth-best.
Melo won’t play. North Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, may not have starting power forward John Henson. Could this really be the year? Still seems doubtful.
Among the 10 best 16 seeds listed by Pomeroy, only ’09 East Tennessee State (lost 72-62 to Pitt) and ’86 Montana State (lost 83-74 to St. John’s) were close to pulling off wins. The 1s haven’t lost for reason. They’re better, and they have time to prepare for the opponent.
Syracuse’s margin for error is smaller, yes – in three games without Melo this season, the Orange were more like the 33rd best team, not the 4th – but it’s still a sizeable margin.
UNC Asheville (24-9) is small, scrappy team that likes to push the tempo. Even without Melo, Syracuse (31-2) has a decisive size advantage and guards in Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche who will handle pressure and create some of their own on the perimeter.
The only way Syracuse loses Thursday if it decides to pout and not play hard. The rest of the tournament? That’s another story.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
- Oklahoma State lands commitment from elite point guard in 2015 0
- John Calipari hiring an analytics director is smart, necessary, strictly for his players 0
- Marcus Smart’s mom reportedly hospitalized the day he shoved Texas Tech fan 0
- Four-star point guard verbally commits to Clemson 0
- Top 2015 and 2016 prospects comment on high school-to-pro move in new report 0
- Four-star 2015 shooting guard commits to Illinois 0
- Florida State gets commitment from 7-foot-4 2015 center 2
- Wichita State gets commitment from three-star 2015 point guard (2)
- Three-star point guard down to Maryland, Providence, UNLV and Virginia Tech (1)
- Former SMU commit picks Michigan State (1)
- Alex Poythress dunks over 7-foot Dakari Johnson (VIDEO) (1)
- Sean Miller gives update on Arizona forward Brandon Ashley (1)