We're a day and a half into this tournament, and this is just about when things start to settle in -- there's been a ton of bad shooting, Some very good defense, a few scintillating upsets, and the bracket has blown up at few key spots.
Let's take a look at some significant developments so far ...
* The No. 1 seeds never lose in the first round (though Gonzaga gave a good try at it Thursday), but it's not too soon to say that Louisville and Indiana have expanded on their title-contending credentials ... and that Gonzaga is looking a lot more vulnerable than it should be.
The results: Thursday, Louisville blew out 16 North Carolina A&T by 31 and Indiana just beat 6 James Madison by 21 -- as No. 1 seeds should do to 16 seeds. (Kansas, the final 1 to play, gets 16 Western Kentucky later Friday.)
Meanwhile Gonzaga. 1 in the West, was tested all game and needed some big shots late and to barely beat 16th-seed Southern 64-58 Thursday.
History tells us that No. 1 seeds that struggle against 16s almost never get to the Final Four ... and that's logical: IT'S DESIGNED TO BE A MISMATCH. If a powerhouse team can't steam roll a 16th seed, that's a big warning sign for the later, tougher rounds.
And the No. 1 seeds that make it to the Final Four ... and win titles ... almost always are the ones that stampede through the first and second rounds.
As I've traced it the last few years, generally, No. 1 or 2 seeds that
And No. 1 or 2 seeds that win by 22 or more are strong candidates to get to the Final Four and win it all.
Last year, eventual champion Kentucky, a top seed, won its first two games by 15 and 16 points, respectively.
A stat: No. 1 seeds that reached the Final Four have won their opener vs. No. 16 seed by an average of 28.5 points, according to The New York Times.
Another stat: 10 of the 13 previous No. 1s to win by 10 or less against a 16 seed failed to reach Final Four, according to Jason Lisk of The Big Lead website.
For instance, last year 1 seed Syracuse only beat 16 UNC Asheville by 7 points ... and after two more tournament wins, the Orange lost in the regional final to second-seeded Ohio State.
The 2s are all on Friday's schedule and so far ...
Later Friday, Ohio State plays 15 Iona and Georgetown plays 15 Florida Gulf Coast.
And it's not just a fluky 6-0.
A-10 teams have won as low-seeds (13 La Salle over 4 Kansas State and 9 Temple over 8 North Carolina State Friday) and as the power-seed (VCU's 42-point dismantling of 12 Akron and 4 Saint Louis' 20-point handling of 13 New Mexico State Thursday).
In fact, I think that VCU and 6-seeded Butler (which beat 11 Bucknell by 12 Thursday) both have semi-decent shots at getting to the Final Four ... and remember, both teams have been to the Final Four recently ...
In fact both teams have been to the Final Four a lot more recently than most teams from the power conferences, many of them who have lost already this year—I'm looking at you, Missouri, North Carolina State, Pitt and Oklahoma State.
Even before the monster performance Thursday, I had VCU going to the Elite Eight (by beating South 1-seed Kansas in the Sweet 16) and only losing in the regional final to Florida. But the way VCU is playing -- its manic style can eat up opponents -- I could easily see another Final Four berth.
And I've got Butler beat Marquette on Saturday then losing in the Sweet 16 to Miami in the East region ... but I think that one should be a very tight game and do you want to pick against Butler coach Brad Stevens in a close tournament game?
And how about a potential Butler-Indiana regional final game? Too bad it's the East region (in Washington, D.C.) and not the Midwest (semi- and final games in Indianapolis), but I think it'd be a ton of fun, if it happens.
West 1 Gonzaga is still alive and plays 8 Wichita State Saturday;
West 2 Ohio State and 7 Notre Dame play later Friday—and would play each other Sunday if they both win;
But 3-4-5 are all gone, which means 6 Arizona (which beat 11 Belmont) now gets a 14 (Harvard) Saturday for a chance to get to the Sweet 16.
Also, it's 12 Ole Miss vs. play-in 13 La Salle for another Sweet 16 berth.
Fascinating stuff. Muhammad will still be drafted very high in this year's NBA draft, but this is yet another weird turn to a kid whose career has had more than a few of them.
Miami had zero problems Friday, and now we'll see about Georgetown vs. Florida Gulf Coast.