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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – It’s going to happen. Maybe not Friday, when Kansas and North Carolina take their turn at trying to avoid history. But if not then, well, some year soon.
A No. 1 seed is going to lose to a No. 16, and with the direction college basketball is going of late, it may not even be considered that big of an upset.
“The extremes are scooting closer to the (middle), year in and year out,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after his top-seeded Bulldogs slowly inched away for a 66-46 victory over South Dakota State on Thursday.
“When you look, statistically, at all these things, and say, ‘The 1 seed did this or that,’ that might have been back in the day. When you look at how close these games have been” lately, it’s a different story, he said.
Well, technically, Few isn’t right. In the first five years of the 64-team bracket, there were six games between 1s and 16s decided by single digits — none more excruciatingly memorable than Georgetown’s 50-49 squeaker over Pete Carril’s Princeton team back in 1989.
In the last five years, only four games have come down to single digits, including Gonzaga’s too-close-for-comfort 64-58 win over Southern in 2013, the last time the Bulldogs were a 1 seed.
But there’s more to these games than the final score, and Thursday’s action might have been Exhibits 1 and 1A.
Mount St. Mary’s looked more in sync and better prepared for one half against Villanova. Sparked by the guard play of Miles Wilson and Elijah Long, the Mountaineers had an 8-point lead early, and trailed by only 1 at the half before falling 76-56 .