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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

March 24, 2014 at 1:34 AM

NCAA tournament winners and losers, first weekend . . .

If the 2014 NCAA basketball tournament has taught us anything, it’s that, as they say about the stock market, past performance is not indicative of future results. Herewith, those who prospered and those for whom the clock ran out over the first weekend:

Winner: The SEC, dogged all season, but which got three teams (Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee) into the Sweet 16. There wasn’t much depth to the league, but the top end looks pretty good.

Loser:  The Big 12, the nation’s No. 1 computer-ranked league. It advanced Iowa State and Baylor to the Sweet 16, but five others — Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas — accounted for only a combined two wins. In fairness, Kansas was a shadow of the team it might have been without injured big man Joel Embiid.

Winner: California, which led all states with three teams in the round of 16 (Stanford, UCLA and San Diego State).

Loser: Oklahoma, which saw all three entries — Oklahoma, OSU and Tulsa — go one-and-done. And the first two were favored.

Winner: Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching tree. Tommy Amaker (Harvard) got a win, Johnny Dawkins (Stanford) got two. They played together on the 1986 Blue Devils’ NCAA runners-up.

Loser: Mike Krzyzewski. Bad end of  a 2-versus-15 upset by Lehigh two years ago, now a 3-versus-14 victim to Mercer. Time to crank up the heat on the Duke coach (kidding).

Winner: Kentucky, which won a wonderful game against undefeated Wichita State.

Winner: Veteran teams with four-year players like Mercer.

Loser: One-and-done freshmen. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, we hardly knew ye.

Loser: No, Wichita State wasn’t really a loser. Its 35-game winning streak ended nobly, if prematurely, in the round of 32.

Winner: Smart. Harvard won a game and Stanford has won two.

Loser: Stupid. Virginia Commonwealth fouled a Stephen F. Austin three-point shooter with a few ticks left, leading by four, saw the advantage evaporate and lost in overtime. Which also erased a potentially troubling second-game matchup for UCLA.

Winner: The Pac-12, advancing three teams to the Sweet 16. Those six wins, added to Oregon’s over BYU, gives the Pac-12 a tidy $10.5 million over a future six-year period, which should pay for a lot of cocktail parties and hospitality rooms.

Loser: The Atlantic-10, which indeed had a bloated representation of six teams (like the Pac-12), but lost four without a victory while moving Dayton to the Sweet 16. St. Louis also won a game.

Winner: The early rounds, which, highlighted by three 12-5 upsets, were often electric.

Loser: Sunday night, which was enough to move viewers over to The Amazing Race, with blowouts by Baylor, Virginia, UCLA and Arizona.

Winner: Stephen F. Austin and Dayton.

Loser: Duke and Syracuse. Remember how those two put on the marquee matchups of the regular season? Their NCAA games, not so much. The two powers combined for a single victory.

Winner: Scalpers hawking tickets for the Louisville-Kentucky game in Indianapolis this week.

Loser: The guys paying the major bucks. But if they can afford those, they’ll also be eating at St. Elmo’s Steakhouse. Life will be good.

Winner: Mike Eades.

Loser: The other two guys who officiated with Eades in the Gonzaga-Oklahoma State foul-fest, which featured 37 free throws in the last four minutes. They didn’t advance to the officiating round-of-32, but Eades did.

Winner: Xavier Thames. The San Diego State guard had 30 points, almost half his team’s total, in a win over North Dakota State.

Loser: Washington State. Because Thames went southbound, so did WSU basketball fortunes. And because of it, the Cougars are looking for a new coach.




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