Three double-digit seeds have made it through the first weekend of this year's NCAA tournament. And while no raving Cinderellas are still alive, such as a Florida Gulf Coast, there still seems a decent chance of a low seed making it to the Final Four. Here's our take on how the lowest remaining seeds might fare from here on out in this year's edition of the Big Dance.
Dayton and Stanford
By winning their first two games in this NCAA tournament the Flyers and Cardinal have guaranteed that at least one double-digit seed will make it to at least the regional finals.
Dayton, the 11 seed in the South, upset sixth-seeded Ohio State in the “first” round last week 60-59, then shocked third-seeded Syracuse Saturday 55-53. The Flyers beat the Buckeyes as six-point underdogs, the Orange as eight-point dogs. This is the furthest Dayton has gotten in the tournament since reaching a regional final back in 1984.
Stanford, the 10 seed in the South, in the tournament for the first time in five years, opened its Dance card with a 58-53 victory over seventh-seeded New Mexico, then upset second-seeded Kansas 60-57. The Cardinal beat the Lobos as four-point dogs, the Jayhawks as six-point dogs.
The Cardinal, as it turns out, are perhaps a bit under-seeded, considering they tied for third place in a Pac-12 that sent six teams to the tournament, three of which are in the Sweet 16.
In the early betting Stanford is favored by three points over Dayton. The winner of that game will play the winner of Thursday's Florida-UCLA match-up, with a Final Four berth on the line.
The Volunteers, the 11 seed in the Midwest, are the first team to win three games in this NCAA tournament. They beat Iowa in a play-in game last Tuesday 78-65 in overtime, then topped UMass 86-67, then dropped Mercer 83-63. So the Vols have won eight of their last nine games, the only defeat in that span coming against No. 1 Florida.
Tennessee now takes on second-seeded Michigan in a Midwest regional semifinal Friday night (7:15 pm ET). In the early betting the Vols are getting two points from the Wolverines. The winner of that game will then play the winner of the Louisville-Kentucky winner in the regional final.
The Wildcats began this season as the No. 1 team in the land, but just couldn't seem to get their act together during the regular season. Suddenly, though, they're playing up to those lofty expectations. We won't call them a Cinderella, because it's no big surprise they've reached the second weekend of play, even though they came into the tournament as the eight seed in the Midwest.
UK opened this tournament with a 56-49 grinder win over Kansas State, then knocked off top-seeded and undefeated Wichita State in a thriller 78-76.
The 'Cats now run into in-state rival and defending national champion Louisville Friday night (9:40 pm ET). In the early betting Kentucky, which beat the Cardinals back in December 73-66 in Lexington, was listed as a five-point underdog.
The Huskies finished third in a top-heavy AAC this season, which got them the seven seed in the East. UConn then beat St. Joe's 89-81 in OT, then upset second-seeded Villanova 77-65.
Connecticut now takes on third-seeded Iowa State Friday night (7:27 pm ET). As of early in the week the Huskies were getting a point and a half from the Cyclones.
The Bears are perhaps the most dangerous of the “low” seeds still alive. Baylor finished sixth in a tough Big 12 during the regular season, but only earned the six seed in the West, presumable because the selection committee remembered that 1-7 stretch the Bears struggled through back in January. But Baylor has won 12 of its last 14 games, after beating Nebraska 74-60 in the first round of the tournament, then demolishing third-seeded Creighton in the second round 85-55.
Baylor now takes on second-seeded Wisconsin in a West regional semifinal Thursday night (7:47 pm ET). In the early betting the Bears were getting three points from the Badgers.
What May Come
As for Dayton and Stanford, that winner will probably run into No. 1 Florida in the regional final, and that would probably be the end of either of them. And even if the Cardinal won, and UCLA upset the Gators, the Bruins took two of three meetings from Stanford this season, by 17 and 25 points.
Tennessee has played two great games in a row, and has a chance to beat Michigan. But getting by either Louisville or Kentucky, to whom the Vols lost the only meeting this season 74-66 back in January, would be a tall order.
As for the Wildcats, they beat Louisville earlier this season, and if they can do it again Friday night they'd be favored against Tennessee, and maybe even against Michigan. As of Monday morning Bovada was offering odds of 4/1 on Kentucky winning the Midwest, and that might be worth a wager.
UConn could beat Iowa State, after which it would run into either top-seeded Virginia or fourth-seeded Michigan State. We could see the Huskies topping the Cyclones, but we'd go against them against either the Cavs or Spartans.Finally, Baylor is going to give Wisconsin all it can handle. With a victory the Bears would then meet either top-seeded Arizona or fourth-seeded San Diego State. We'd give Baylor a very good chance to get by the Aztecs, a much lesser chance against the Wildcats. Bovada is offering NCAA Basketball odds of 5/1 on the Bears winning the West.