The SEC managed to get eight teams into the NCAA Tournament, but entering Sunday, only three remained.
The Kentucky Wildcats already clinched their spot in the Sweet 16, but few thought they would be joined by the Texas A&M Aggies, who was set to face the 2-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels in the Round of 32.
UNC was the heavy favorite going in, so much that ESPN BPI gave them a 79-percent chance of winning.
Texas A&M proved everyone wrong by crushing the Tar Heels on Sunday, 86-65, to advance to the Sweet 16. It marked the largest margin of defeat for UNC head coach Roy Williams in an NCAA Tournament game.
That’s great news for UK, as it not only makes the SEC look better (UK went 1-1 against A&M), but it also makes the path to the national title game slightly easier.
FiveThirtyEight gave the Tar Heels a 14-percent chance of making the national title game before the Big Dance began in comparison to UK having just a 4-percent chance.
But since then, UK’s region has gotten a lot less daunting with Villanova, Arizona and Tennessee going down. The Cats even briefly became the favorite to win the South Region, though it looks like Cincinnati will go back to being the slight favorite if they hold on vs Nevada.
Now, UNC going down makes the path to the national title game easier, considering they were the favorite to win the West Region and face the South Region winner in the national semifinal.
And let’s face it: If somehow UK were to win the South and make it to the Final Four, teams like Xavier and Gonzaga look less daunting than the Tar Heels, who still have last year’s Final Four MVP in Joel Berry.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
First, UK has to win their game Thursday against the winner of tonight’s UMBC vs Kansas State matchup. Then, they’d likely be in what would effectively be a toss-up against the Bearcats in the Elite Eight.