After looking shaky in the first round, the Pac-10 seems to be comporting itself well as the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament wraps up.
It appears the conference will advance three teams to the Sweet Sixteen -- assuming USC's big lead against Texas holds up -- and was one shot and a double overtime away from putting a fourth team in. Barring a comeback by Kentucky against Kansas, the only other conference with three is the SEC.
As for the vaunted ACC, with its seven bids? Just one team -- No. 1 seed North Carolina -- into the second weekend. And the Big Ten, with its six bids? Also just one team -- No. 1 seed Ohio State.
- I mentioned on Friday that if Texas could survive the first weekend, it would be dangerous. Ain't gonna happen. The Longhorns look flat gassed against a USC team that quite frankly seems like it could have the makings of a Final Four run. Of all the Pac-10 teams left in the Tournament, USC is the team I'd want to play the least. They are explosive offensively from so many positions and play suffocating defense. I cannot wait to watch them play the Tar Heels next weekend.
- As I watched Oregon's Aaron Brooks slice and dice Winthrop, I'm left to wonder: How different might the result of the Cougars game have been if they had a playmaker along the lines of Brooks or USC's Nick Young? I know that would change the dynamic of that team, but after watching the way Derrick Byars took over for Vandy, I can't help but think what a difference it might have made to have someone who can create his own shot whenever his team needs. However, this realization leaves me that much more in awe of what that team accomplished ...
- I went bold in picking Nevada to beat Memphis, who I thought was a bit overrated. And while I've pretty much looked silly in all of my upset picks -- more on that later -- I maintain that the Tigers are ripe for the picking. Nevada missed a lot of easy shots down the stretch -- gong four-plus minutes without a point in one late period -- and Memphis made free throws like it hasn't all year. (The Tigers shot about 67 percent for the entire season, yet made 76 percent against the Wolf Pack.) Don't let the final margin fool you -- this was a two-point game with four minutes to go.
- What a great college career Nevada's Nick Fazekas had. I remember watching him as a freshman in the NCAA Tournament against Gonzaga and wondering, "How is this skinny kid taking over this game?" I wondered who he was, where he came from, and if what I was seeing was a fluke, as the Wolf Pack shocked the Bulldogs at KeyArena. Four years, 2,400 points and a few added pounds later, Fazekas proved to be no fluke, and is on his way to the NBA.
- I'll admit I knew very little about UNLV. I wish I had known more -- they beat Wisconsin at their own game and simply made more plays down the stretch.
- Oregon is going to be as tough as anyone to oust from this Tournament if they shoot 47 percent from 3-point range again.
See you tomorrow.