Sweet 16 Lacks Compelling Entry

Rodd CaytonCorrespondent IMarch 25, 2009

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 21:  Micah Downs #22 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs looks to pass against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 21, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Is it just me, or has all the excitement been sucked out of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament?

Usually, there's at least one interesting underdog in the Sweet 16, like a Davidson or Western Kentucky from last season or a George Mason or a Bradley from the 2006 tourney—George Mason, you may recall, went all the way to the Final Four.

Yeah, I know there's still a No. 12 seed alive, but it's Arizona. The team that won the 1997 title and has been in the tournament every year since before Sean Elliot.

And no, I haven't forgotten about Gonzaga. But the Bulldogs are a fourth seed now, and seeing them succeed is like watching your favorite underground band sign a major-label contract and seeing teenyboppers running through the mall in its T-shirts.

Maybe Gonzaga is the best story line left. The Zags (as everyone call them now) take on the ultimate college-hoops blueblood, North Carolina, Friday in Memphis.

The early rounds had promise for a while: Western Kentucky hung in until the end with Gonzaga, Virginia Commonwealth had the winning buzzer shot in the air and Cleveland State made it to the second round before falling to Arizona.

So I'll still watch, but with less enthusiasm.

For what it's worth, my bracketed Final Four (UNC, Memphis, Louisville and Pittsburgh) is still intact.