NCAA Bracket 2011, Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods and Monday's Midday Sports Buzz
The NCAA tournament has just concluded the first weekend of play, but that's not the only hot sports topic in the news this Monday.
While Cinderella schools such as VCU and Butler and still dancing, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Purdue have busted up more than a few brackets.
As we get closer and closer to this year's Final Four, college basketball is not the only story of the day from the world of sports.
Barry Bonds is finally getting ready to step into the courtroom to begin his perjury trial. Although many charges have already been dropped, Bonds still faces some serious jail time if convicted.
Also, Tiger Woods has evidently put his divorce behind him, as it is being reported that he is dating a 22-year-old college student in Florida. It has been said that Woods is dating Alyse Lahti Johnston, who is the daughter of former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Lahti.
If that isn't enough to get you excited to start the week, the New York Mets have finally released Oliver Perez; Jon Jones not only won his huge MMA match this weekend, but he also thwarted a robbery; and Matt Cooke may be suspended by the NHL once again following another vicious hit this weekend.
The NBA and NHL playoffs are determining their seeds, and the start of the 2011 MLB season is coming quickly. But as all of that continues, the NFL players and owners are nowhere near a new collective bargaining agreement.
I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Hines Ward, wide receiver of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is set to make his debut tonight on ABC's Dancing With the Stars tonight. It is the start of season 12, and athletes have done quite well in the past.
Ward is looking to continue that trend. As a matter of fact, he is currently one of the odds on favorite, considering Ward's athleticism and the success of former football players on the show.
Season 12 will feature two other athletes in retired boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard and professional wrestler Chris Jericho. Both possess extremely quick foot work, and that should help them compete with Ward and the other contestants.
Along with the aforementioned three athletes, this season's cast includes Kirstie Alley, Mike Catherwood, Chelsea Kane, Ralph Macchio, Petra Nemcova, Romeo, Wendy Williams and Kendra Wilkinson.
Right off the bat, you can figure on Ward advancing far if his moves can gain him enough votes. His popularity alone may not be enough to compete with some of the other dancers this season. Jericho gets to team with Cheryl Burke, so he should also do fairly well. As for Leonard, I see him performing well, but other boxers Evander Holyfield and Floyd Mayweather have not done so well.
Rodney Ho of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that Ward should have a great chance to win.
Ho says that "The Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and UGA (University of Georgia) grad has a warm smile and athletic prowess that should take him far in the competition. NFL players have a loyal following and tend to do well on the show."
For more on Ward and other great members of the Steel Curtain, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Steelers Featured Columnist Tom Dale, as he takes a look at The 50 Greatest Pittsburgh Steelers of All Time.
The NCAA Tournament has already seen one No. 1 seed go down with Pittsburgh, busting many brackets in the process. But the Panthers may not be the only No. 1 seed who fails to reach the Final Four in Houston.
Looking at the updated brackets, many people figure that No. 1 seed Kansas has the easiest path to the Final Four, as they are lumped in with three other double digit seeds in the Southwest region. The Jayhawks will take on No. 12 seed Richmond next, with a chance to face the winner of No. 11 VCU and No. 10 Florida State for a trip to Houston on the line.
But while the road to the Final Four may appear easy for Kansas, this is the NCAA Tournament. Nothing comes easy for anyone regardless of their opponents.
No. 1 seed Ohio State in the East region does not have an easy path to the Final Four, but they will be facing some young teams in the coming games, provided the favorites do come out on top in the brackets.
The Buckeyes will first take on No. 4 seed Kentucky, who is led by a pair of freshman in Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones. Although it has been the stellar play of Josh Harrelson inside that has helped the Wildcats advance. But with the presence of Jared Sullinger and Dallas Lauderdale, getting points in the paint may be slightly more difficult to come by for Harrelson.
After that, the next challenge for Ohio State will come from the winner of No. 2 seed North Carolina and No. 11 seed Marquette. Although the Tar Heels have been able to put up more points than any other team, they were fortunate to get past No. 7 seed Washington on Sunday. A call or two differently could have sent the Tar Heels packing and the Huskies on to the Sweet 16.
In the end, I actually see Ohio State taking on Marquette for a chance to reach the Final Four. The Golden Eagles are playing as well as anyone, and I feel that North Carolina's inexperience will do them in against the depth of Marquette.
The final No. 1 seed remaining in the 2011 NCAA Tournament is the Duke Blue Devils in the West region. Although Duke got a huge lift with the return of Kyrie Irving, the Blue Devils had to withstand a late rally by No. 8 seed Michigan to pick up the win. If they blow a lead like that against No. 5 seed Arizona, they may not be quite as fortunate.
Even if Duke is able to get past the Wildcats, they could be staring at an epic battle against No. 3 seed Connecticut, who would still have to pull off the minor upset against No. 2 seed San Diego State. It will not be easy, but the Huskies could be a very difficult opponent for the Blue Devils.
Ultimately, I do not see all three No. 1 seeds advancing to the Final Four. If by some chance they do, there is no way that Duke can get past Ohio State to reach the title game. Kansas looks like a solid pick to get to the championship, although the team I feel that has the best shot at eliminating them is No. 2 seed Florida out of the Southeast bracket.
Make sure to check out Bleacher Report's March Madness 2011 page for the latest in the NCAA Tournament.
Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL for the remainder of the season as well as the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Cooke's most recent punishment is on the heels of his elbow to the head of Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers during Sunday's game.
Cooke is a repeat offender, and thus his punishment was more harsh. But to tell you the truth, I'm still not sure it was severe enough. The NHL should not have stopped at the first round. The suspension should have been the rest of the regular season as well as the entire playoffs, depending on how far his Pittsburgh Penguins are able to advance.
Cooke is a thug. While fighting and hard hits are part of the game, someone who goes out and continues to dish out cheap shot after cheap shot has no room in this league. Maybe he ought to give the MMA or WWE a shot. His antics would make him the ultimate heel.
The NHL has clearly had enough, and issued the following statement when they handed out Cooke's suspension.
“Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position," Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior V.P. of hockey operations, announced in the statement. "This isn't the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response."
This is now the fourth time that Cooke has been suspended, and this one should have cost him more than a maximum of 17 games and less than $220,000 in forfeited salary. He should have been forced to sit out the rest of the regular season and all of the playoffs.
The suspension is a step in the right direction. The NHL is trying to clean up the dirty hits. But as long the likes of Matt Cooke are allowed to remain in the game, then it will never be quite clean enough.
For more on the vicious hits handed out by the Penguins goon, check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist April Weiner, as she takes a look at Matt Cooke: Ranking the Worst Hits From the Pittsburgh Penguins Forward.
The NCAA tournament has reached the Sweet 16 stage, and many people have been forced to watch their brackets bust. I made so many wrong picks that the NCAA is trying to ban me from participating in filling out a bracket in the 2012 NCAA tournament, but Ohio State is trying to just give me a first-round suspension.
Thankfully, Tennessee is busy with another person so they are not piping in regarding my faulty bracket.
But with only 16 teams remaining, four of them are a No. 10 seed or higher, including three who remain alive in the Southwest region of the bracket.
No. 1 seed Kansas will take on No. 12 seed Richmond, and the winner of that game will then face the winner of the No. 11 seed VCU and No. 10 seed Florida State. One of these teams will advance to the Final Four in Houston.
It will be the Jayhawks, of course, but could one of the other teams possibly pull off the upset?
The Richmond Spiders are a very good team. I actually had them reaching this point. It was VCU and Florida State who ended my hopes of winning anything. But the Rams have also been playing very well, and the Seminoles are getting the job done with very little out of Chris Singleton.
The bottom line is that any one of those schools do have somewhat of a chance against Kansas. After watching how this tournament has gone so far, nothing would surprise me.
The other double-digit seed is the No. 11 seed Marquette Golden Eagles, who will face No. 2 seed North Carolina in the East region bracket.
The Tar Heels can score as many points as any team in the tournament, but the Golden Eagles are playing their best ball of the season. If they can continue to slow down their opposition, they could certainly get past a young and inexperienced Carolina squad.
The other Cinderella story comes from the Southeast region, where the familiar underdog No. 8 seed Butler Bulldogs continue their run through the tournament. After knocking off No. 1 seed Pittsburgh, the defending national runners-up will take on No. 4 seed Wisconsin.
Butler will be the more experienced team in this game, much to the surprise of the casual fan.
Aside from that, you have the teams who many people expected to still be dancing. No. 1 seeds Duke and Ohio State are looking good, and the West and Southeast regions will feature a pair of No. 2 vs. No. 3 seed matchups.
With that being said, which Cinderella team has the best shot to win at least one more game?
We know that at least one double-digit seed will advance to the Elite Eight when the Rams and 'Noles meet. Could they be facing the Spiders following an upset of the Jayhawks?
It may sound unlikely, but the team with the best chance to shock Kansas would be Florida State. Yet as odd as that sounds, they may not get past VCU.
As for the other remaining double-digit seed, I actually see Marquette knocking off North Carolina. Buzz Williams has his Golden Eagles looking nearly unstoppable.
Even though Butler is not a huge Cinderella story, I like them to defeat Wisconsin, but then fall to No. 2 seed Florida, which I still have knocking off No. 3 seed BYU en route to the Final Four.
It has been a crazy tournament, and Cinderella is still dancing. But the question for four or five schools remains, for how long?
Make sure to check out Bleacher Report's March Madness 2011 page for the latest in the NCAA Tournament.
Bruce Pearl has been fired as men's basketball coach at Tennessee, according to multiple reports. An official announcement is expected within the next 24 hours.
Pearl knowingly committed NCAA rules violations and then lied in an attempt to cover it up, ultimately to no avail. He was caught by his school and received a punishment from the school and conference before the NCAA had a chance to hand down their own penalty.
Pearl was suspended for the first eight conference games of the SEC season, received little support from athletic director Mike Hamilton, and was subsequently dismissed this afternoon, according to numerous reports.
The violations were bad, but the lies were worse.
Jim Tressel knowingly committed NCAA rules violations at Ohio State and then lied in an attempt to cover it up, even after a former player tipped him off to the violations. He denied his knowledge and hoped that everything would get better and go away, but also to no avail.
Tressel's five Buckeyes were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 college football season, even though the scandal was originally discovered before the team's bowl game in January. Those five players helped lead Ohio State to a Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas, when they should have been forced to serve as spectators and cheerleaders only.
Tressel, however, was hit with just a two-game ban and was fined by the school, all the while knowing that the players received a five-game suspension. The school imposed an absolute joke of a punishment, although Tressel did his best to try and make things slightly better. He told OSO to add three games to his suspension to equal the suspensions of the five players involved in the violation.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports says, "After careful examination of his conscience over the last 216 hours, Jim Tressel has decided to do the right thing."
Took him long enough, did it not?
Timing really is everything, and lack of timing is even worse. Especially when said timing is just downright bad.
After Pearl admitted his wrongdoings, he failed to notify Tennessee of other possible recruiting violations that took place just four days after his clearly staged press conference.
Was it all an act, coach Pearl? The tears. The emotions. The promises to set a good example for the kids. Was it all part of a big show?
Sure, Pearl admitted his mistakes. But only after he got caught.
Tressel finally admitted his mistakes. But only after he got caught.
So what is the difference? One broke the rules, lied, got caught, cried a little, lied again, got off fairly easy and was ridiculed by people across the sports world.
The other got fired from Tennessee this afternoon.
If Ohio State really wants to set the right example in a school desperate for some positive press attention, then AD Gene Smith ought to take a page out of Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton's book and fire Tressel.
The fact that he only handed down a weak two-game suspension that will be served in games against powder-puff squads leads me to think that he will not do the right thing and terminate Tressel's contract immediately.
But it is just my gut feeling.
And to Ohio State fans ready to type up their comments, this is not just directed against your Buckeyes. It is meant to serve as a wake-up call to every coach in America who continues to try and cheat the system and come out ahead. You will get caught, and you should get fired.
Pearl is out. Tressel should be right behind him.
For more on the Tressel suspension and "Tattoogate," make sure to check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Brandon Galvin, who takes a look at the Jim Tressel Suspension: 10 Reasons the Ohio State Punishment Is Not Enough.
The NCAA brackets are down to the Sweet 16, and some of the games have been amazing. But with all of the recent changes that have transformed the NCAA tournament, the committee should be operating under one simple motto.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
That slogan always bothered me, mainly because it is such a horrible sentence. The point is clear, but it should be worded better. Or at least come off as more structurally sound.
But if something is working just fine, then do not go ahead and tinker with a great formula and product.
That is what has happened over the course of a few years now in regards to the NCAA tournament, but 2011 has by far been the worst.
First off, when it comes to a tournament, the number 64 is ideal. The best NCAA tournaments of the past have had 64 teams, and everything was great.
Then, they added a 65th team for a play-in game to be held two days before March Madness officially began on a Thursday afternoon.
But the geniuses didn't stop with that. They decided to add three more teams, bringing the field to a total of 68 teams (which is still down from their original proposal of 96 teams, which would have more or less been like two separate tournaments—starting with the NIT teams and then moving on to the NCAA field).
This new format revealed an official first round consisting of four games. That didn't bother me all that much, at least initially. But those teams that won their official first-round game had to play late on Tuesday or Wednesday night, only to have to turn around and travel to play the early games on Thursday and Friday.
Sure, VCU has been a remarkable story so far, but it was so difficult for these teams to play a second-round game with less than one day of rest after traveling with little preparation time in between. If those first eight schools who take part in the new first round are truly considered a part of the tournament, then why are they treated so poorly?
But that is not even my main knock. Now that we are down to the Sweet 16, everything goes back to normal. But getting to this point has not been all roses.
When it was first reported that every game would be televised on four different networks, I thought it was a fantastic idea. This way, no one would get stuck watching a No. 1 seed take on a No. 16 seed, regardless of the market in which they live. Everyone would have the choice to flip over to any other game.
I thought it was for the best. But now, I have changed my mind.
That is due to the fact that many of the Saturday and Sunday night games featuring third-round matchups did not tip off until around 10 PM EST or later. NCAA tournament games on Sunday rarely went much past 7 PM EST, and that is how it should be on a Sunday.
I don't want to hear about any more of this garbage of an East Coast bias, because it is the West Coast that has much better start times and television consideration. I would rather have games on at a reasonable time than to have saturated media coverage that hypes up every single game between eastern rivalries.
Ultimately, the NCAA tournament is still one of my favorite events of the entire year. But the more they change the format and structure of it all, the more they give me to complain about.
Clearly, I have enough already.
For more on March Madness 2011 as well as an incredible clip of an announcer calling a game that would rival Gus Johnson, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Correspondent Thomas Copain and the Real Madrid Unicaja Malaga Video: March Madness European Edition.
Sources are reporting that the University of Tennessee has decided to part ways with men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl. An official announcement is expected to come within the next 24 hours.
This comes as no great surprise. Following recruiting violations that Pearl knowingly committed, the coach then went on to lie to the Volunteers about his actions. After the school acknowledged the recruiting violations, Pearl simply said that he didn't "tell the truth the first time" NCAA investigators asked him about a violation, and he declined to be more specific.
The school was charged with seven rules violations and the program could take a severe hit over the next few seasons. Pearl was charged with unethical conduct and then suspended for the first eight conference games in the SEC this season.
Before the Vols were to enter the 2011 NCAA tournament as a No. 9 seed and prepare to take on No. 8 seed Michigan, the school's athletic director Mike Hamilton said that the coach's status was unclear.
The fact that Tennessee lost to Michigan by 30 points even though the Wolverines failed to convert even one free throw probably made the decision much easier.
Once again, nothing has been officially confirmed, but Gary Parrish of CBS Sports has reported, "A search for his replacement has already begun."
It is also being reported that Pearl met with Hamilton and was possibly informed of this decision. Since he has been working without a contract, it would be easy to remove Pearl, although he will still probably receive some sort of compensation as part of a potential buyout.
If Pearl is indeed out, Tennessee is undoubtedly hoping that the NCAA will not hand down a more harsh penalty against its program. The Pearl suspension was imposed by the school, and not the NCAA sanctions committee.
For a look back on Pearl and his accmplishments prior to today's news, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Tennessee Featured Columnist Mark Hancock, who takes a look at the question of Will Tennessee Fire Bruce Pearl, Their Best Men's Basketball Coach in Decades?
Tiger Woods is looking to put his divorce behind him and get his PGA career back on track in 2011. After falling from atop the World Rankings, Woods has been reportedly dating a woman who has also had her fair share of issues in the past.
The former No. 1 golfer in the world is rumored to be dating 22-year-old Alyse Lahti Johnston. She is the stepdaughter of Alastair Johnston, who the former vice-chairman of IMG, where he was the brains behind Woods' $60 million contract with Nike in 1996. For those keeping track, Alyse was just seven years old at the time of that mega-deal.
She is also the daughter of former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jeff Lahti, although he has five kids with his current wife. Lahti remarried after breaking up with Alyse's mother.
Don Kaplan of the New York Post is saying, "The happy couple has reportedly been together for several weeks."
It is being speculated that Johnston introduced his stepdaughter to Woods, who is now 35, according to Terez Owens, although it is not clear exactly when they first met.
Kaplan also reported, "The pair was spotted last week cruising on Woods' 155-foot yacht, Privacy, which docks in North Palm Beach—near where Johnston is believed to be seeking an MBA at the Florida campus of Northwood University."
Much like Woods, Johnston has had her run-ins over the past year or two. She was detained for suspicion of DUI last October, near her stepfather's home in Windermere, Florida.
That just happens to also be where Woods resides. She was only charged with reckless driving when the case went to court this past December.
Johnston is reportedly training for a career in the LPGA while also earning her MBA. There may nothing more to this story than Woods taking on the role of her coach as she also looks to make it big one day on the golf course.
As of now, everything is pure rumor. Neither Woods nor Johnston has confirmed or denied any of the recent reports.
But if Woods begins to play better, it may just be what was needed to help him get his own career—and life—back on the right path.
For more on the professional career of the former No. 1 golfer in the world, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Featured Writer Kathy Bissell, who takes a look at Tiger Woods: When Will He Win His First Tournament of the Year?
Barry Bonds is set to finally begin his trial for perjury on Monday, over seven years after he appeared before a grand jury and denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs.
The government has been looking to get to Bonds for quite some time now, and they will finally get their chance. Bonds faces four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice stemming from his testimony before the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative grand jury.
Way back in December of 2003, Bonds testified that he used substances identified by the government as "the cream" and "the clear," which are both anabolic steroids, yet Bonds said that he believed they were arthritis balm and flaxseed oil.
You can't make that stuff up; that is actually what he said.
If Bonds is actually convicted of perjuring himself before the grand jury, he will undoubtedly receive a jail sentence of at least a couple of years. But if he never testifies, which is the popular expectation, even if he is found guilty, he will probably not see the inside of a jail.
The government is looking to make an example out of Bonds, as this case will likely have implications for Roger Clemens and Lance Armstrong, who will have their own day in court sooner rather than later. This could be very big in determining both of their futures.
Here is a look at some of the major players who will have an impact in the case:
Gregg Anderson: This is Bonds' buddy who became his personal trainer. He has been involved with Bonds and linked to steroids for quite some time, and has served over a year in prison for refusing to testify about Bonds. Anderson is expected to once again disregard a subpoena and be imprisoned for the length of the trial. Without Anderson, the judge has ruled crucial pieces of evidence that could have helped implicate Bonds inadmissible.
Kimberly Bell: The former Playboy model and mistress of Bonds will tell the jury that he was using steroids. After all, how else could he look like a runaway from Easter Island without taking something? Look at his head growth! Unfortunately, she may not be the most credible witness, and the defense will look to make her out as a jilted lover who was sour at the fact that Bonds owed her money after the two took a hit on a house purchased in Arizona.
Stan Conte: This Conte is the former trainer with the San Francisco Giants. He will be asked to testify about Bonds and his relationship with Anderson.
Victor Conte: The other Conte—no relation to Stan—is the brains behind BALCO. He dabbled in the music industry before teaching himself biochemistry. He is the one credited with coming up with "the cream" and "the clear" to help athletes defeat the drug testing system.
Jeff Novitsky: The top man in BALCO. He will undoubtedly try to make a spectacle out of this entire ordeal and accuse the government of singling out Bonds the entire time. If nothing else, he will be entertaining.
Susan Illston: Here comes the judge. Here comes the judge. Maybe nobody will be singing that, but Illston will be the ultimate x-factor in one way or another.
Lester Munson of ESPN says of Illston, "She ruled that lead agent Jeff Novitzky and his team of agents broke the rules when they raided labs in April 2004 and grabbed test results and urine samples that had been collected as part of Major League Baseball's 2003 testing for steroids. In unusually harsh language, she ripped Novitzky, saying: 'I think the government has displayed a callous disregard for constitutional rights.…I think it's a seizure beyond what was authorized by the search warrant [approved by another judge] and, therefore, violates the Fourth Amendment.'"
Aside from all of the aforementioned characters, many former and one at least one current player could be called to testify. Amongst them, look to hear the names of Jason and Jeremy Giambi, Benito Santiago, Marvin Benard, Armando Rios and Randy Velarde.
This is going to go on for quite some time. Some say the government has been going after Bonds for too long. Others want to see Bonds penalized for what they perceive are lies about taking steroids. In the long run, you can count on a couple of things holding true.
First, Bonds will not be forced to ever see the inside of a cell. Second, he will also never be allowed to see the inside of the MLB Hall of Fame. Those are guarantees.
For more on Bonds, make sure to check out Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Eric Ball, who previews the Barry Bonds Trial: Is Jason Giambi the Most Important Person In Trial?
The NCAA tournament has concluded its opening weekend, and many brackets have been severely busted. I can't see too many people who still had schools such as VCU, Butler, Richmond, Florida State and Marquette still alive before the opening tip last Tuesday.
Other than me, of course.
I couldn't even type that with a straight face, let alone say it out loud.
The West region may still be the strongest, as they still have the top three seeds and the No. 5 seed alive.
No. 1 seed Duke survived a late scare from No. 8 seed Michigan to advance to the Sweet 16 once again. Coach Mike Krzyzewski picked up his 900th career victory, and Kyrie Irving has the Blue Devils looking like a serious contender to successfully make a run at consecutive championships.
In the East, the top teams seeds aside from the No. 1 seed are still keeping their dreams alive, but No. 8 seed Butler looks poised to make another deep run after eliminating No. 1 seed Pittsburgh following a few controversial late calls.
Dana O'Neil of ESPN says that everyone should lay off of the referees, because, "The truth is, it was the two teams that made the mistakes."
The most surprising region may be the Southwest, as No. 1 seed Kansas joins three double-digit seeds in New Orleans for the Sweet 16. The Jayhawks will take on No. 12 seed Richmond, while the winner of that game will take on the winner of No. 11 seed VCU vs. No. 10 seed Florida State for a trip to the Final Four in Houston.
The East region still boasts a handful of traditional powerhouses, as No. 1 seed Ohio State looks like the odds-on favorite. They will have to take on a young No. 4 seed in Kentucky, which needed a late rally to advance.
No. 2 seed North Carolina will look to continue to test the scoreboard operators as they bring their offense against No. 11 seed Marquette, which is looking more and more like one of the best from the currently overrated Big East conference.
If you're in one of those second-chance bracket pools, who are you going to predict will advance after next weekend? Do you simply pick by the highest remaining seeds? Do you continue to go with the Cinderella stories?
If you actually intend to win, then combine a little from both philosophies.
Whether you like them or loathe them, the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils look ready to get back to the Final Four. While a matchup with No. 3 seed Connecticut would be exhilarating in the Elite Eight, I still have Duke advancing to Houston.
I also like No. 1 seed Kansas to advance. Even if the top seeds in the Southwest region were still around, the Jayhawks are the best team. They will advance.
As for the two teams who will be joining them, I like the No. 2 seed Florida Gators to represent the Southeast region. I liked them from the start, and nothing has happened to change my mind, unless No. 8 seed Butler can pull off two more improbable victories.
Finally, the final team to advance to the 2011 Final Four will be the biggest shock of them all. The No. 11 seed Marquette Golden Eagles will come out of the East region by upsetting No. 2 seed North Carolina and then taking out No. 1 seed Ohio State this weekend. They will be the only team from a conference that possibly had 10 better teams than them earn bids to reach the Final Four.
For more on the NCAA tournament and the Sweet 16, make sure to check out the March Madness 2011 section at Bleacher Report.