CHICAGO -- Oh, I guarantee you the NCAA basketball committee is gloating. Maybe not gloating, but feeling pretty saucy about its Sweet 16 survivors.
All four of the committee's No. 1 seeds made it. Three of the No. 2s advanced, as did three of the No. 3s. A No. 4 is alive, as are three No. 5s, one No. 6 and one No. 7.
I saw the No. 7, UNLV, send Wisconsin's Bo Ryan and that gawd-awful red sportcoat back to Madison. That's why March Madness is now short a No. 2 seed. And then I watched (along with Michael Jordan) No. 1 Kansas leave a Rock Chalk mark around Kentucky at the United Center. The Jayhawks played as if their compression shorts were on fire.
So in review, 10 of the selection committee's top 12 teams and 14 of the top 20 are still dancing. Pontiac convertibles for every committee member, right?
If you could reseed the remaining field for the Sweet 16, would you still agree with the committee and keep Florida as the overall No. 1? Would Vegas, the lowest seed left in the tournament, be No. 16 on your list? Would you penalize Ohio State for needing three Act of God moments (the officials not calling an intentional foul on Buckeyes center Greg Oden, Xavier subsequently missing the second of two free throws with 9.3 seconds left in regulation, OSU's Ron Lewis hitting a trey with two seconds remaining to send the game into overtime) to beat the ninth-seeded Musketeers?
I'm not ripping the committee (wait, yes, I am: no Syracuse?), but it's obvious the tournament could benefit by a Sweet 16 do-over. Committee chair Gary Walters won't be thrilled, but there are two things to remember about that: (1) I don't care, (2) no Syracuse.
The New and Improved Seeds:
1: KANSAS (previous NCAA seed: 1)
It isn't just the margin of victories -- an, "Oh, did we just win by 40?'' over Niagara and a 12-point (felt like 22) win against Kentucky -- it's how the Jayhawks seem to improve every minute they're on the court. That's why they replace Florida as my new overall No. 1. Keep this up and they'll win the West Regional, the Final Four and possibly the NBA's Atlantic Division.
1: NORTH CAROLINA (previous NCAA seed: 1)
Only Florida has more talent, but the Tar Heels aren't exactly slumming. Tyler Hansbrough is hilarious to watch, mostly because he combines sweet basketball skills with a Joey-Porter-going-after-Levi-Jones-at-the-blackjack-table disposition. And ask Michigan State what it's like to be pulled down by the undertow of Carolina's 81-player-deep bench.
1: FLORIDA (previous NCAA seed: overall 1)
I think the Gators just get bored, so they screw around until coach Billy Donovan tells Joakim Noah he's instituting a no-ponytail rule -- effective immediately -- unless Florida starts kicking butt. No reason to panic over the defending champions' seven-point win against Purdue in the second round. The Boilers know how to play defense. Still, it would be nice if the best team in the tournament started acting like it. Until then, they're my third-ranked team overall.
1: GEORGETOWN (previous NCAA seed: 2)
A confession: I don't have the Hoyas reaching the Final Four in my office pool. Then again, I thought Johnny Depp was all wrong for the Captain Jack Sparrow part. Georgetown is sort of the chic pick to reach the F4 and maybe win the whole thing. I know this: I wouldn't want to spend quality time guarding or blocking out the Hoyas' Jeff Green or Roy Hibbert.
2: UNLV (previous NCAA seed: 7)
Don't laugh. Of the remaining field, no team has beaten a higher seed in the first round (No. 10 Georgia Tech) or in the second round (No. 2 Wisconsin). That doesn't mean they're going to beat Oregon on Friday night in St. Louis, but it does mean the selection committee totally underestimated Vegas. So I'm doing what the refs do sometimes. I'm issuing a make-up call.
2: OHIO STATE (previous NCAA seed: 1)
Is it just me, or does Oden look older than Bill Russell? Doesn't matter. I love watching him mess with shooters' minds as they try to teardrop or challenge him. He blocks so many shots it's like he's holding a snow shovel in front of the rim. I'm going to give the Buckeyes the benefit of the doubt on the Xavier game (they played an in-state rival with a grudge, the Musketeers were a tough 9-seed, and OSU showed some stones in OT), but they still drop from the top four teams.
2: UCLA (previous NCAA seed: 2)
The Bruins could have named their score in the blowout win against Weber State. And anybody who holds a team to 13 points in a half -- in this case, seventh-seeded Indiana -- gets my attention. But also getting my attention is UCLA's miserable 20 points in the same half. And who's teaching center Lorenzo Mata how to shoot free throws? Shaq? Either the Bruins rediscover their offense or they can forget about back-to-back Final Fours.
2: PITTSBURGH (previous NCAA seed: 3)
Yeah, the Panthers blew a 19-point lead against Virginia Commonwealth and needed OT to advance to the Sweet 16. But VCU was a No. 11 seed (it sent the Dookies back to Krzyzewskiville in the first round) like Vegas was a No. 7. The Panthers move up to the second line because they usually play killer D -- and that's what wins games as the tournament moves forward.
3: OREGON (previous NCAA seed: 3)
Can anyone outside the Pac-10 and the Pacific Northwest name me two Ducks starters? One? This isn't a criticism of Oregon's program; it's a criticism of anyone who hasn't paid attention to, say, star guard Aaron Brooks and a Ducks team that continues to trend up. I probably have them seeded too low here. Think of them as a 2½ seed.
3: MEMPHIS (previous NCAA seed: 2)
I want to believe, but I can't -- not yet. Maybe it's because I expected more in the North Texas opener, or that I thought Nevada would beat the Tigers in the second round (Memphis won by 16), or that I'm not convinced star Chris Douglas-Roberts' sprained ankle will be good to go after just four days of treatment. Prove me wrong, Memphis.
3: TEXAS A&M (previous NCAA seed: 3)
The opening-round win against Penn gave me the heebie-jeebies. The Aggies won by 16, but first they blew a 13-point halftime lead and actually trailed in the second half. Nothing against Tomorrow's Leaders, but the Ivy League team should have never been anywhere near the lead by then. And if Louisville's Edgar Sosa doesn't miss his last two foul shots in the second-round game (he was 15-for-15 when he stepped to the line with 29.8 seconds left, and A&M ahead by one), we might be watching Rick Pitino on the sidelines Thursday night in San Antonio, not Aggies coach Billy Gillispie. But I'll give A&M props for winning on a court only 80 miles away from Louisville's campus. And any team that has Acie Law is OK with me.
3: VANDERBILT (previous NCAA seed: 6)
The Commodores get bumped up big time because they crushed a fairly ordinary George Washington team, and then overcame a 10-point second-half deficit to upset third-seeded Washington State in double overtime. Vandy sort of grows on you, especially with the way SEC Player of the Year Derrick Byars has responded to the Madness.
4: USC (previous NCAA seed: 5)
No, I'm really not sure how they reached the Sweet 16. In fact, I don't think Trojans coach Tim Floyd is sure how they reached the regional semis. Taj Gibson is probably a nice place to start. Beating No. 12-seeded Arkansas in the opener wasn't a stretch. But all those who saw a 19-point woodshed win against No. 4-seed Texas coming, raise your hands. I'm still waiting.
4: BUTLER (previous NCAA seed: 5)
Butler was supposed to be the No. 5 seed most likely to be eliminated in the first round. Surprise! Or not. Butler overcame an Old Dominion second-half lead in the opening round, and then semi-stunned No. 4-seed Maryland in the second round. You know, that's not fair. Butler wins aren't stunners anymore. The Terps committed 17 turnovers and didn't take advantage of a huge rebounding advantage. Meanwhile, Butler guard A.J. Graves, who looks like he could use a home-cooked meal, found ways to score 19 points. Now the Bulldogs face the Gators.
4: SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (previous NCAA seed: 4)
I'm a sucker for defense in the tournament, and SIU held Holy Cross to 51 points and Virginia Tech to 48. Good luck putting the glove on Kansas like that, but who knows, right? The Salukis aren't the most exciting offensive team you'll ever watch (it won't help that forward Matt Shaw, the team's third-leading scorer, is doubtful for the KU game), but that isn't the point. Instead, admire the simple pleasures of hoops life, such as SIU's relentless defensive excellence.
4: TENNESSEE (previous NCAA seed: 5)
Someone had to be the final seeded team of my Sweet 16, so it's the Vols, who probably deserve better. They scored a zillion points against Long Beach State, and then were able to win a slow-down game against No. 4 (still trying to figure that seeding out) Virginia. UT coach Bruce Pearl, perhaps suffering from the aftereffects of too much orange body paint, made a great case to USA Today's Kelly Whiteside on why the Vols are overachievers: a 6-3 power forward, a freshman point guard, a freshman center, mid-major talent with high-major work ethic. Of course, the Vols also have the human microwave machine, guard Chris Lofton.
I now officially end my tenure as acting selection committee chairman. All that's missing is the CBS interview when Billy Packer rips me.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.