Which team had the most disappointing pre-Sweet 16 exit?



Michigan State
Many people predicted this team to win the title, or at the very least advance to the Final Four (I know I did).  After all, the No. 2-seed Spartans entered the Big Dance on the heels of their fifth Big Ten Tournament title, having won 13 of their final 14 games of the season.

So mix in a hot streak with one of the best players in the nation in Denzel Valentine, and how could one not be optimistic about the team’s tournament chances?  Valentine is in the mix for Wooden Player of the Year honors, dropping 15 points, 10 boards, and 9 assists in the Big Ten title game against Purdue.

Valentine averaged 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.8 assists in 2015-16.

On top of that, throw in one of the best coaches in the nation in Tom Izzo, and you’re left even more dumbfounded on how in the world Michigan State was upended by lowly Middle Tennessee State in the first round.

Perhaps the Spartans overlooked the No. 15-seed Blue Raiders.  Maybe they just caught Middle Tennessee State on a hot shooting day (they did; the Blue Raiders shot 56 percent from the field, including 58 percent from 3).

But what remains clear is, with the 90-81 loss to Middle Tennessee State, Michigan State shattered the hopes and dreams of confident bracket builders all over the world.
And that is an absolutely unforgivable offense.
— Jake Mosbach

Northern Iowa
Northern Iowa not only should have been in the Sweet 16, but we here in Iowa City particularly needed them there.

Iowa won a close game in the first round but should have lost. The Hawks went on to get massacred in the second round.

The Panthers, on the other hand, also won a close game in the first round and did so with one of the most miraculous game-winners in NCAA Tournament history. Their trajectory was up, when the state of Iowa desperately needed a team to give people something to root for.

So Northern Iowa needed to be in the Sweet 16. But furthermore, more so than any team ever, the Panthers should have gotten there.

As well-known as the Panthers had become for being a clutch, show-up-when-you-need-to program, they suffered the biggest last-minute collapse in tournament history. A 14-2 run by Texas A&M, aided largely by a bunch of UNI turnovers, crushed the Panthers’ Cinderella dreams and further crushed the spirits of an already sullen and downtrodden state.

All things considered, the most disappointing, even disturbing, absence from the Sweet 16 is undoubtedly Northern Iowa.
— Kyle Mann

Stephen F. Austin
We all love Cinderella teams during the NCAA Tournament. And there were plenty to go around in the first round. But then, where did they all go? There are none in the Sweet 16. That is disappointing, man.

How much fun was it to watch 14-seed Stephen F. Austin dismantle 3-seed West Virginia in the first round? The Lumberjacks looked like the higher seed in that game.

And West Virginia was no slouch. The Mountaineers were a popular pick to make the Final Four, and they had wins over Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa State this season.

It does the game of basketball good when a Cinderella team advances in the tournament.

And dang it, Austin almost beat Notre Dame in the second round, too. It had a lead until the final ticks, when Rex Pflueger tipped in a Zach Auguste miss.

The Lumberjacks were the prototypical Cinderella. Why? Because no one had heard of them. Well, this was the third straight year they were in the tournament, and 2016 wasn’t the first year they pulled an upset. In 2014, the 12-seed Lumberjacks beat 5-seed VCU before running into UCLA.

You know how each Cinderella has that one polarizing player? Thomas Walkup was that guy. He averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, and five assists this year. He upped that to 27 points per contest in the tournament. Now people at ESPN are talking about his getting drafted in the NBA. Plus, he looked like a Lumberjack.

Walkup and the rest of the Lumberjacks will be sorely missed, as we watch the perennial powers beat up on each other the rest of the way.
— Blake Dowson


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