Sweet 16 Offers a Bit of Everything

As usual the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament gave us a mix of great games and blowouts, unsung heroes and stars coming through, favorites moving on and Cinderella stories getting written.

Here's a look at some of the best things the last four days gave us heading into the Sweet 16.

Best Player --- Stephen Curry, Davidson --- This is so easy to choose because the son of former NBA shooter Dell Curry is clearly a chip off the old block. The big schools didn't want him two years ago and the sophomore is making them all look foolish. Curry lit up Gonzaga for 40 points in the first round and followed that up with 30 in the Wildcats' upset of Georgetown. That raised his season scoring average to 25.7. His play much make teams like N.C. State and Wake Forest in particular want to scream.

Best Story --- Western Kentucky --- Okay, I admit my wife being an alumnus is a factor here, but we have two No. 12 seeds in the Sweet 16 and the Hilltoppers get the nod over Villanova. Western beat Drake with a 30-footer at the buzzer and then won the "Cinderella Showdown" with San Diego in round two. Western Kentucky has a proud history in college basketball but had not sniffed the second weekend of tournament play in 15 years. They better breathe quickly; they get UCLA Thursday night.

Best Team Performance --- North Carolina, Round 2 --- The Tar Heels were expected to get a battle from the physically gifted Arkansas Razorbacks but they barely broke a sweat in routing the Hogs. It was 51-26 at the half and ended up 108-77. Coupled with the Heels' 113 against Mount St. Mary's it marked the first back-to-back 100-point performances in the Big Dance in 18 years.

Best Team Performance (SEC) --- Georgia --- Yeah, I know they lost, but no SEC team got more out of its ability than the Bulldogs. They actually led No. 3 seed Xavier by 11 in the second half before finally wearing out. Still, Dennis Felton went from the firing squad to a contract extension in a week. That's pretty hard to do.

Worst Team Performance --- Notre Dame --- The Fightless Irish must have thought Charlie Weis was coaching them considering how few points they scored. For a No. 5 seed to get beaten by a No. 4 by 20 points is bad. To do so while scoring just 41 points in 40 minutes is horrible. Notre Dame's best team in a number of years laid an ostrich egg in this one.

Worst Team Performance (SEC) --- Vanderbilt --- Many thought this Commodore team could and would make a deep run, maybe to the elite eight or even beyond. Instead Vandy got blown out by Siena… yup, Siena by the score of 83-62. That's a tough way to go out for Shan Foster.

Worst Coaching Performance --- Trent Johnson, Stanford --- It was mind-numbingly stupid for the Stanford head man to get himself thrown out late in the first half of their game with Marquette. There is no excuse for a guy with one technical already in the books walking across the floor to continue arguing with officials. Yes, a calmer, more mature official would have walked towards him directing him back and warning him every step of the way, but that doesn't let Johnson off the hook. It's a shame Stanford advanced, because he'll get away with it. He should get a pay cut or at the very least a formal reprimand from his school.

Looking ahead to the next weekend, here's one view of how it will play out.

East Regional --- North Carolina over Washington State, Louisville over Tennessee and North Carolina over Louisville.

South Regional --- Texas over Stanford, Michigan State over Memphis and Texas over Michigan State.

Midwest Regional --- Davidson over Wisconsin, Kansas over Villanova and Kansas over Davidson.

West Regional --- West Virginia over Xavier, UCLA over Western Kentucky and West Virginia over UCLA.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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