Now we’re starting to get to the good stuff. Below is our sweetest of Sweet Sixteens in the RTC Modern Bracket.
We have ten national champions still alive, three runners-up and three at-large teams. There were a couple of minor upsets, but one of our #1 seeds has already exited this Dance.
Explanations of each game below the bracket.
#1 Duke 1992 def. #8 Arizona 1988 – Lute Olson‘s Wildcats keep this game closer than you might expect thanks to Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr and Anthony Cook, but Coach K’s trio of Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill pull away in the last 5 minutes. Against most teams Elliott is a nightmare match-up, but Duke has Grant Hill who while not quite at the level he was at in 1994 still can play some solid defense. In the end, Arizona, like many teams, doesn’t have an answer for Laettner who wills the Blue Devils into Sweet 16.
#13 St. John’s 1985 def. #12 Arizona 1998 – While I’m not sure that either of these teams can be considered a Cinderella, we get our match-up of double digit teams. Lute Olson’s defending champs came into the game supremely confident after having knocked off a very good Kansas 2008 team with their next match-up against a team that didn’t even make the the NCAA title game, but Lou Carnesecca’s Redmen have other ideas. Arizona’s heralded backcourt of Miles Simon and Mike Bibby simply run into a better version of themselves in Chris Mullin and Mark Jackson and the Wildcats have no answer for Walter Berry. Next up for Lou Carnesecca, Coach K and the 1992 Blue Devils.