By Marc Lawrence — It’s something ESPN does every year and we look forward to their assessment: reseeding the teams entering the Sweet 16 round.
The men’s 2021 NCAA tournament provided more surprises and upsets in the second round on Sunday and Monday, as March Madness chaos continued to reign. But now, we have a larger sample size with which to analyze the remaining field.
In assigning more value to the way teams have played in the first two games and who they’ve beaten, while also considering the seed they had when they entered the NCAA tournament and whether they look like they can advance to the Elite Eight, here is a take on some of the big-move reseeds…
5. Loyola Chicago: This squad justified its No. 1 adjusted defensive efficiency rating on KenPom.com by holding Illinois to 0.88 points per possession. A second Final Four run in three years does not seem impossible for this group after leading Illinois – the best team not named Gonzaga for the past month – from start to finish.
6. Villanova: The trendy projection that Villanova would fall before the second weekend failed to acknowledge that Jay Wright was still coaching this team. They scored at a rate of 112 points per 100 possessions in the first round against Winthrop and recorded a clip of 142 points per 100 possessions against North Texas in the second round.
8. Syracuse: As a team, Syracuse has made 60% of its shots inside the arc and 49% of its 3-point attempts with Buddy Boeheim on the floor.
As a follow-up to Rick Passan’s take on Shohei Ohtani as a possible A.L. MVP candidate this season, it’s interesting to note that Ohtani – an outfielder who also pitches – is enjoying a rock solid spring.
He started and batted leadoff on March 20 against the Padres, the first time he has pitched and hit for himself in a spring training or regular-season game with Los Angeles. He went 2 for 2 with a walk, raising his exhibition batting average to .636.
On the mound, he allowed one run and two hits in four innings, striking out five.
Those look like MVP numbers in the making.
Grinding Out The Profits
From the Playbook Sweet 16 Tourney Guide ( available here Today after 6 PM ET): The Pac-12 ruled the first two rounds of this year’s Big Dance, going 9-1 SUATS, while USC head coach Andy Enfield improved to 9-0 ATS in the NCAA tourney.
On the flip side, other conference records of note include – the Big Ten was 7-8 SU and 6-9 ATS, and the Big 12 went 7-6 SU and 5-8 ATS.
The Pac-12 advanced four teams to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years.