Welcome to the Sweet 16, otherwise known as the ACC Invitational (with a few outsiders). The fact that one league composes 37.5 percent of the surviving March Madness bracket is the latest head-shaking, logic-defying twist in an NCAA Tournament that has been flooded with them.
Six teams out of 16 from one conference.
"The tournament," Mike Krzyzewski said aloud, "is crazy."Seemed that way Sunday, anyway, when Northern Iowa could not hold a 12-point lead in 44 seconds.
When Maryland went 1-of-18 in 3-pointers and moved past Hawaii, anyway.
When Notre Dame was saved by a reserve averaging 2.5 points a game.
When Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig – 3-for-17 in 3-pointers the previous three games – hit two in the last 14 seconds to break Xavier’s hearts.
When Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield waited until his team was tied and in trouble against VCU with 11 minutes left to bring his A game – scoring 21 points in those 11 minutes.
And just look at the curvy roads taken by some of the 16. Do we remember that . . .
Syracuse lost five of its last six regular season games?
Wisconsin was once 9-9, with an interim coach and the team calling a players’ only meeting after losing to Northwestern?
Gonzaga was on the brink of being left out of the tournament?
Indiana’s Tom Crean was toast, according to talk shows and critics?
Texas A&M needed 12 points in 44 seconds just to get into overtime? "I still don’t know what happened," Billy Kennedy said afterward. And he was the winning coach.
What happened is Northern Iowa had only eight turnovers the first 39 minutes and 30 seconds of regulation, and four in the last 30 seconds. "Thirty seconds," coach Ben Jacobson said, "that we aren’t going to be able to ever have an answer for."
Or as Notre Dame’s Mike Brey succinctly put it, after his Irish had escaped the considerably dangerous trap of Stephen F. Austin with a last-second tip-in, "Are you freakin’ kidding me?"
No. So here are the Sweet 16 in numbers, factoids and oddities. A snapshot of the mayhem going out there.
ACC teams moving on: Six. Teams moving on from the rest of the Power 5 combined -- Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC: Eight.
Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, after becoming the sixth ACC team to advance, noted that when it comes to assessing a league, that has to mean . . . something. "You can’t go just by the NCAA tournament," he said. "But I think you have to go a little bit by what conferences do in the tournament."
First weekend record of seven ACC Teams: 12-1. Pittsburgh, the league office awaits an explanation.
Highest seed all those ACC teams have beaten so far: No. 7 Dayton. Not to rain on the parade, but this week the lifting gets heavier.
Lower seed teams that won in the first round of the tournament: 13.
Lower seed teams that won in the second round: Three. Great games over the weekend, but the upsets mostly stopped.
Sweet 16 teams that have never been there before: None. Even though Stephen F. Austin had one foot in the door.
Sweet 16 teams this year who also there last year: Six. Including Duke and Wisconsin, the national championship game participants who combined for eight losses last season and 22 this one.
Past national champions: Nine. But only one (Duke) from the past five years.
Teams that have never made it to the Final Four: Three. Gonzaga, Texas A&M and Miami, the last two of which have never won a game in the round of 16.
Teams In the top 16 of the last Associated Press poll: Nine. Unranked: Four. Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and Syracuse – who didn’t get one vote in the last poll.
Schools from the state of Kentucky: None, for the first time in nine years.
Coaches over the age of 60: Five. Boeheim, at 71, is the elder.
Coaches under 45: One. Iowa State’s Steve Prohm, 41, is the kid.
Sweet 16 appearance coming up for Krzyzewski: No. 23. Since 1975, when the name became official as all teams had to win at least once to get that far, he has been in more himself than every SCHOOL, except North Carolina and Kentucky. Like the old saying goes, March comes in like a lion and goes out with Duke in the Sweet 16.Field goals that Rex Pflueger scored for Notre Dame in the first two rounds: One. That was the tip-in to beat Stephen F. Austin. It was Pflueger’s 10th offensive rebound of the entire season.
Twenty-three-year-old graduate students in the Miami lineup: Two, with Angel Rodriguez and Sheldon McClellan. No wonder the Hurricanes look like they know where they’re going, such as when they went against a Wichita State defense allowing only 38.3 percent shooting, and shredded it for 55.3 percent.
Kansas’ Wayne Selden Jr’s scoring average and shooting the past two years when the Jayhawks flamed out in the first weekend: 2.5, and 4-for-21.
Selden’s average and shooting last weekend: 18, and 13-for-25.
Gonzaga’s winning margin in the first two rounds: 16 and 23. Also, its largest deficit all weekend was one. Clearly, that No. 11 seeding was a computer malfunction. And this was supposed to be the team in danger of missing the tournament? "I don’t think any of us can deny there was a little bit of a sense of desperation that we faced," coach Mark Few said. "We had a talk in the locker room, it was fight or flight, man. It’s human nature. We lined up and we all chose to fight."
Number of questions Jay Wright will now have to answer about Villanova not getting past the first weekend since 2009: Zero, down from a thousand. "It’s like if you have a cold, and everybody keeps asking you how’s your cold? How’s your cold?’’ Wright said Sunday. His cold is gone now, thank you.
Syracuse’s zone defense handiwork the first two rounds: Dayton and Middle Tennessee – the lottery winners who brought down Michigan State – scored 51 and 50 points, and shot 30.8 percent.
Schools Lon Kruger has coached to the Sweet 16: Four. But at the other places, he didn’t have Buddy Hield.
Number of times the opponent has broken 70 against Virginia this season: Five. So Iowa State, which shot 53 percent over the weekend, will have a challenge Friday in Chicago.
First-half runs that Kansas put on Connecticut in the second round: 16-0 and 19-0. "They’re going to be a very, very tough out of this tournament," Huskies coach Kevin Ollie said.
Players that Duke is basically using, trying to get to the Final Four: Six. So it has been no walk in the park, which is why Krzyzewski holds this team in such high regard. "Our house is on a cliff, and we hope it doesn’t rain," he said. "That’s who we’ve been. And so I really have an appreciation for that."
Last time Duke, beat a No. 1 seed, when it wasn’t a No. 1 seed itself: 1994. The Blue Devils get another chance Thursday against Oregon.
Seeding for the second regional semifinal Friday in Chicago: No. 10 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Gonzaga.
Regional destination for Villanova: Louisville. You might recall the last time the Wildcats played an NCAA Tournament game in the state of Kentucky. Their immortal upset of Georgetown in Lexington in 1985.
Regional destination for North Carolina and Indiana: Philadelphia. Last time they did that, Isiah Thomas led the Hoosiers to the 1981 national championship.
Last time the Hoosiers and Tar Heels met in the tournament: 1984. Michael Jordan scored only 13 points in his last college game as the Hoosiers stunned No. 1 Carolina.
Number of national championships won by Indiana’s last opponent and next one: 13. Crean wants to pass the blueblood crying towel from Kentucky to North Carolina.
Years since Jim Larranaga led George Mason to an epic Final Four trip: 10. Larranaga – the grandson of a Cuban cigar maker -- is fired up for another deep run, at 66. Maybe that’s why he got his second technical foul in five years over the weekend.
Signs of Villanova efficiency: Of the Wildcats’ 65 field goals in the first two rounds, 44 came with assists. In the last 10 games, four-year vet Ryan Arcidiacono has had 63 assists and only eight turnovers in 330 minutes.
Indiana’s season shooting percentage: 50.5, one of the nation’s best.
Consecutive games North Carolina has held the opponent under 45 percent: 27. That matchup ought to be interesting.
But then, after the past weekend, the 16 survivors must wonder what could happen next. While those left behind by a handful of points or fractions of time, but must wonder what could have been. "We were a minute away from dancing," Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson said. So close. Of course, that was two days after he beat Texas with a halfcourt buzzer-beater.
The gods of March giveth and they taketh away. They worked overtime the first two rounds.