Only UCLA remained from the West after the turmoil in Gonzaga, Arizona

Sweet 16’s games on Thursday night left us all breathless and wishing we could accurately predict everything that will happen in this year’s NCAA tournament.

If Thursday was an indication of what is to come on Friday, perhaps St. Peter can become the first n. 15 seeds to make the Elite Eight. Perhaps North Carolina will overtake UCLA and organize a potential Final Four battle against Duke, which would be the first meeting between bitter rivals at March Madness (and of course that would happen in Manager K’s final season).

The point is, it’s all on the table after Thursday’s assault on No. 1 seeded, Arizona and Gonzaga, the undisputed favorites to win everything by entering the tournament.

Here are four takeaways from one of the most shocking Sweet 16 game quartets in history:

UCLA, now it’s all up to you

The Bruins are once again carrying the banner for the West after Arkansas shocked Gonzaga in San Francisco and Houston bloodied Arizona in San Antonio.

As of now, UCLA’s theoretical path to the national league match would be through the No. 8 seeds from North Carolina, No. 3 Purdue suits (if Cinderella dei Pavoni strut ends) and the winner of No. 2 Duke seeds and n. 4 Arkansas seeds Saturday.

The Bruins could not have hoped for more help.

But now Mick Cronin’s team must play with the consistency and balance they should with veteran guards Tyger Campbell and Johnny Juzang pulling the strings. UCLA isn’t flashy, but it doesn’t have to be to win this time of year.

Arizona’s high-wire act collapsed

When the Wildcats were on the court, they were the funniest team to watch in college basketball. They became a trendy choice to win the championship in manager Tommy Lloyd’s first season mainly because people liked the idea of ​​seeing them play six more times.

But in the end they ran into two tougher teams in Texas Christian and Houston, who love to grind wins. Arizona were lucky enough to escape the TCU in the second round, surviving due to the electric performances of Bennedict Mathurin and Christian Koloko.

The Horned Frogs’ skillful handling on them recorded a lot for Houston manager Kelvin Sampson this week, and Sampson, one of the best coaches in the country that everyone somehow forgets about, took advantage of it.

Arizona were certainly able to have a deep run and win it all, but this tournament is all about matchups and the group did not do any favors to the Pac-12 champions, as it turned out.

Closed Gonzaga’s two-year window as a favorite

Gonzaga may return to the national championship game in the next few years, but he probably won’t be No. 1 seed or favorite to win his first title.

Last year, the Zags had a squad full of future professionals and little clashed against a Baylor side that were more cohesive and better on defense. They lost a lot of talent, including point guard Jalen Suggs and marksman Corey Kispert, but quickly made it back to the top by convincing Drew Timme to come back and involving rookie Chet Holmgren.

The Bulldogs have wasted a golden opportunity against an Arkansas team that have lost eight games this season and were 10 points underdogs.

Next year, Holmgren will be in the NBA and, while Timme may return for another year, he will feel the pressure to turn pro.

It might be a relief to coach Mark Few after the last two years for Gonzaga to enter the tournament with less than a bull’s-eye on his back and feel a little more of that underdog mojo.

Coach K’s children are almost maturing

I was lucky enough to see Duke’s end-of-season defeat to North Carolina in Coach K’s Cameron finale from row to press, and it really felt like the weight of his retirement tour had sank the young Blue Devils. They just looked tired.

Then, when a week later they failed to beat Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament championship, it really was fate.

Well, having overtaken Michigan State in the closing minutes of a tight match and playing late against Texas Tech once again, the Blue Devils are now a real threat to send their legendary manager to the top with a sixth national championship. They will not see another no. 1 or n. 2 seeds up to the championship match.

The average age of Duke owners is 19. The average age of Texas Tech is 22. That experience gap didn’t matter because Duke’s point guard Jeremy Roach figured out how to close games, trusting freshmen Paolo Banchero, AJ Griffin and Trevor Kels.