ORLANDO – All four No. 1 seeds made it through to the Sweet 16, but as usual the No. 1’s will be joined by some outsiders after the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
For the second time in three years and the third time in five years, all four No. 1 seeds made it through to the Sweet 16.
Remember, though, that there hasn’t been a Final Four with all No. 1 seeds since the field expanded to 64 in 1985.
Kentucky (Midwest) and Texas (South) played their way into the third round Sunday. Texas received a scare from Purdue, but UK rolled to its 25th consecutive win by crushing Utah. Arizona (West) and Oklahoma (East) won their way into the Sweet 16 on Saturday.
The East Regional is the one with the ubiquitous Cinderella story, as No. 12 Butler pulled off its second major upset.
Friday night the Bulldogs got a last-second victory over No. 5 Mississippi State. Sunday the Bulldogs rallied from a big first-half deficit, then held off No. 4 Louisville in an epic game to send Coach Rick Pitino and his players home.
“As Princeton runs an offense for lay-ups, this team runs an offense for `3s,’ and they’re great at it,” Pitino said of the Bulldogs. “They’re one of the best shooting teams I’ve seen.”
For the eighth year in a row and the 18th time in 19 years, at least one double-digit seed is in the Sweet 16. This year there are two, both in the East: Butler and No. 10 Auburn.
If you’ll think back a week, Auburn was the team many commentators said shouldn’t be in the field.
But thanks to two great games by Marquis Daniels, the Tigers have advanced to meet No. 3 Syracuse on Friday night.
There are some high-powered Sweet 16 match-ups. Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., in the West, No. 2 Kansas meets No. 3 Duke. Thursday in Minneapolis in the Midwest, No. 2 Pittsburgh meets No. 3 Marquette.
And Friday in San Antonio in the South, No. 6 Maryland meets No. 7 Michigan State.
Other things worth nothing from the tournament’s first weekend:
-This is the sixth year in a row at least one No. 10 seed has made it to the third round.
-For the first time since 1987, no No. 4 seed made it to the Sweet 16. Three No. 5s made it, which ties the record set in `87.
-The Cornette family of Dayton, Ohio, should be especially proud, as brothers have made it to the Sweet 16. Butler’s Joel Cornette, a 6-foot-10 senior, will be playing in Albany, N.Y. Notre Dame’s Jordan Cornette, a 6-9 sophomore, will be playing in Anaheim.
-Finally, the past seven national champs remain alive. Working backward from last season: Maryland, Duke, Michigan State, Connecticut, Kentucky, Arizona and Kentucky again.
(c) 2003, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.)