Tar Heels, Jayhawks setting the bar high

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All the top seeds made it through.

Stanford's coach will be back on the sidelines. Duke will watch from the couch.

George Mason is gone, but three double-digit seeds with George Mason-like dreams remain.

After Sunday's games, there are only 16 teams remaining in the NCAA Tournament, though many of the story lines are still alive and well.

The conversation starts with the No. 1 seeds.

UCLA, Kansas, Memphis and North Carolina all made it through. The Jayhawks and Tar Heels did it most impressively, winning their four games by an average of 28. Memphis and UCLA, meanwhile, looked vulnerable in their second-round victories.

"We've been getting everybody's best game," Bruins coach Ben Howland said after UCLA barely escaped against Texas A&M on Saturday. "That's why this is the greatest sporting event in all of American sports, because anybody can beat anybody."

Speaking of which, UCLA's next opponent in the West Regional is Western Kentucky, one of three double-digit seeds remaining in the tournament. The 12th-seeded Hilltoppers were part of the craziness in Tampa, where upsets reigned and 12th-seeded Villanova also advanced out of the Midwest Regional.

The Wildcats were one of the final bubble teams to make the tournament and wound up as one of the few pieces of good news for the Big East, which took eight teams into the first weekend -- more than any conference -- and left with only three.

Louisville rolled through its two games, including a 78-48 win over Oklahoma on Sunday, and West Virginia also advanced with an upset over second-seeded Duke.

The Mountaineers, who play Xavier next in the West, are coached by the combustible Bob Huggins, though Huggins was hardly the biggest newsmaker on the coaching front over the weekend.

Instead, that honor went to Stanford's Trent Johnson. Ejected in the first half against Marquette, Johnson watched from the locker room as his team won by a single point in overtime.

"The bottom line was, the responsibility was on me, and I was out of line," Johnson said. "Just leave it at that if you would, please."

Probably won't happen, coach.

Johnson's next game, should he choose to stick around for it, could be a good one, against Texas and Rick Barnes in the South Regional in Houston.

The other South game pits Memphis, a 77-74 winner over Mississippi State, against Michigan State. The Spartans, after being a popular pick to win the Big Ten, didn't live up to expectations and played much of the season under the radar.

But maybe not for long. Freshman Kalin Lucas combined with senior Drew Neitzel to help the Spartans pull away from Pitt for a win Saturday.

"I'm jacked for the guys," Izzo said. "When you push guys so hard, sometimes you kind of feel sorry for them. Thank God I didn't let that get to me too much, because this is what it takes."

In the Midwest, Big Ten champion Wisconsin will take on the NCAA's other double-digit surprise.

That would be 10th-seeded Davidson, which beat Gonzaga for its first tournament win since 1969, then knocked out another No. 2 seed Georgetown for an encore.

Kansas plays Villanova on the other side of the Midwest bracket.


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