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Favourites lead the way into 'Sweet 16'


Chalk one up for the seeded favourites in the NCAA Tournament.

The biggest upset this March isn't a wild heave at the horn for a winner from a No. 15 seed or a First Four team somehow weaving into the second weekend—it's the lack of genuine stunners to shake up the bracket.

The top seeds are still at the top of the tourney.

The field has the top three seeds in each round in the “Sweet 16” for only the second time (2009) since the bracket expanded in 1985.

It's also tied with 2009 for the most top four seeds (14) in the “Sweet 16.”

Sure, Virginia had to sweat out another tourney opener. And Duke was a tip-in away from being done.

But it's rare this many single-digit teams still have a shot at cutting down the nets.

The favourites don't mind if the trend continues for another week.

“Everyone is talking about a 'Final Four' but I've never been to a 'Sweet 16,'” said Virginia guard Ty Jerome.

The Big 12 has kept the conference from perfection. No. 4 seed Kansas State was surprised by UC Irvine while No. 4 seed Kansas was knocked out by fifth-seeded Auburn, which actually was favoured by sportsbooks over the Jayhawks.

While not among the top 16 seeds, sixth-seeded Villanova also lost—guaranteeing a new national champion will be crowned in Minneapolis on April 8.

The 1s: Duke, Virginia, UNC, Gonzaga.

The 2s: Michigan State, Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky.

The 3s: LSU, Texas Tech, Purdue and Houston.

The 4s: FSU and Virginia Tech.

When the betting favourite wins, gamblers call it going chalk, an old-school slang term still common in an era where pools are now nearly ubiquitous.

It might have to be bought in bulk for a tournament where the 12th-seeded Oregon Ducks are the only double-digit seed in the “Sweet 16.”

The casinos surely could have used a few more upsets to keep the sportsbook a winner.

If you're a fan hooked in March because of the upstart teams from conferences no one has really heard of knocking off the blue bloods while pandemonium ensues, try back next year.

But for fans who want the best teams still alive and playing for it all, this weekend could be as good as it gets.

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