16 observations about the Sweet 16

That most feel-good of films, "The Sound of Music," turns 50 this month, and there's no way I'm letting the opportunity escape without somehow getting a basketball column out of it.

I've written about "The Sound of Music" and hoops before, but that was in 2002. You should be allowed to do it at least once a decade, right?

So now as the regionals are upon us, here are 16 (going on 17) observations about the Sweet 16.

1. How do you solve a problem like UConn? Umm ... good luck with that. It's been a decade since the Huskies lost in the regional semifinals. That happened in Kansas City in 2005, and it actually wasn't an upset then, as No. 2 seed Stanford topped No. 3 seed UConn 76-59.

UConn lost the next two years in the regional finals: to Duke in 2006 and LSU in 2007. The Huskies have been to the Final Four every season since, winning four of the seven. This year in the Sweet 16, it will be No. 5 seed Texas' turn to try to pull the major upset against the top-seeded Huskies in the Albany Regional.

2. How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? Not sure. But if you figure that out, then try to determine how foes should deal with UConn guard Moriah Jefferson. She has 169 assists to just 56 turnovers, while averaging 12.0 points and shooting better than 50 percent from both 2-point and 3-point range. And there's her 83 percent shooting from the free throw line, plus 89 steals.

You might want to just stick with trying to catch a cloud.

3. How do you keep a wave upon the sand? You don't ... just like you don't keep Florida State off the glass. The Seminoles have won the rebounding battle in every game this season except in the ACC tournament final, when champion Notre Dame dominated them on the boards, 39-27.

On average, though, Florida State -- the No. 2 seed in the Greensboro Regional -- has out-rebounded its opponents by almost 13 a game, which makes a team with such offensive versatility even tougher to face.

4. I have confidence in sunshine ... To try to pump up her spirits, Maria sings an ego-boosting song on the way to her first meeting with Captain von Trapp and the children. Her confidence evaporates, though, when she gets to the gates of the estate.

You know who would never need to sing such a song? Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who virtually always radiates confidence that her players soak up. Baylor, the No. 2 seed in Oklahoma City, is in the Sweet 16 for the seventh year in a row and is coming off its fifth consecutive Big 12 tournament title.

5. I have confidence in rain ... Other than Betty White, is there any celebrity more universally beloved than Julie Andrews?

That's about how popular coach Geno Auriemma and his Huskies are in UConn territory. But elsewhere, let's just say they don't get exactly get showered with bouquets of edelweiss.

The Huskies are used to that, though. They've won nine NCAA titles, including the last two, and have had five perfect seasons. No wonder they are supremely confident come tournament time, much to the chagrin of those who suffer from UConn fatigue.

6. I have confidence that spring will come again ... With one last nod to this ode to optimism, we bestow the title of "most positive-looking" coach to Maryland's Brenda Frese, who typically seems to find "Something Good" to say to her players from the sideline.

7. So long, farewell? Maryland, a founding member of the ACC, left that league and moved to the Big Ten this season. In women's basketball, Maryland and Duke met 80 times as members of the ACC, most famously in the 2006 NCAA title game won by the Terrapins.

But after last season's meeting, you had to wonder when Duke and Maryland would face off again. Turned out their "farewell" was brief. The No. 1 seed Terps and No. 4 seed Blue Devils meet in the regional semifinals on far-away neutral ground in Spokane, Washington.

8. Climb ev'ry mountain: No. 7 Dayton and No. 11 Gonzaga -- the two lowest seeds left in the tournament -- have scaled peaks so far. Both won second-round games on their higher-seeded opponents' home court, with the Flyers knocking off No. 2 seed Kentucky and the Bulldogs beating No. 3 seed Oregon State.

Now, Dayton and Gonzaga each have another mountain to face. In the Albany Regional, the Flyers meet No. 3 seed Louisville, a program that's been to the Final Four twice.

In the Spokane Regional, the Bulldogs will be in their home city, but they'll be facing No. 2 seed Tennessee, an eight-time NCAA champ that's been to the Final Four 18 times.

9. When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad ... Ah, if those were the only things that basketball teams had to worry about. Instead, there can be painful and season-ending laments like, "When the ACL tears, when the Achilles ruptures, when I break my leg."

Two of the more prominent serious injuries this season were to senior post players who were leading their teams in scoring and rebounding when they got hurt: Texas's Nneka Enemkpali (January) and Tennessee's Isabelle Harrison (February). Both suffered ACL injuries.

Yet both Tennessee and Texas made it to their leagues' tournament finals and have advanced to the Sweet 16.

10. God bless what's-his-name: When saying her prayers after first meeting the children, Maria remembers all of their names except one. (Hey, six out of seven isn't bad.) What's-his-name, she is soon reminded, is Kurt.

Two teams that probably felt forgotten when this season started are now in the Sweet 16, and one of them is guaranteed to make the Elite Eight. In the Greensboro Regional, Florida State and No. 3 seed Arizona State meet in the semifinals. Neither of them was ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll. The Seminoles were picked to finish fifth in the ACC, while the Sun Devils were picked seventh in the Pac-12.

11. Dancing experience: Speaking of Kurt, he's the one who asked Maria to teach him the steps to the Landler, a folk dance. Then the captain, an expert dancer, cuts in. (And the Baroness realizes she'd better hustle Maria back to the abbey ASAP.)

So which program in the Sweet 16 is Kurt, with the least experience in the Big Dance, and which one is the captain?

"Kurt" is Dayton, which first reached the NCAA tournament in 2010 and is now making its sixth appearance. The "captain" is Tennessee, which has appeared in the NCAA tournament each of the event's 34 years.

12. Let's start at the very beginning ... Incidentally, Tennessee was 19-9 going into the first NCAA tournament, yet was seeded No. 2. That 1982 bracket had just 32 teams, and perhaps the game of the tournament came in the Sweet 16, when Tennessee edged Southern Cal 91-90 in overtime.

13. Director's choice: If "The Sound of Music" director Robert Wise were still alive, what school might he be rooting for in the Sweet 16? The right answer is "Who knows?" but we'll say the Indiana native would go with Notre Dame.

Another of Wise's many famous films is "The Day the Earth Stood Still," which is something that might happen if UConn is upset in the Sweet 16.

Oh, and looking down the road, if the Huskies and Lady Vols meet at the Final Four, it might be almost as contentious as the Sharks vs. the Jets in another Wise-directed classic, "West Side Story."

14. Dynamic duos, part I: "The Sound of Music," of course, started as a stage musical written by one of the most famous creative duos in show-biz history, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. It was the last musical by the pair, who were also responsible for "Oklahoma," "Carousel," "South Pacific" and "The King and I," among other megahits.

Who are some of the best duos in this Sweet 16? How about South Carolina's Tiffany Mitchell and A'ja Wilson vs. North Carolina's Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga in a battle of both teams' top scorers? They meet as the No. 1-seeded Gamecocks take on No. 4 seed North Carolina in Greensboro.

15. Dynamic duos, part II: Baylor's Niya Johnson is the delivery specialist, and teammate Nina Davis knows how to finish. Baylor will try to control the pace against a No. 3 seed Iowa team led by guard Samantha Logic (262 assists) and forward Ally Disterhoff (15.2 PPG).

16. Dynamic duos, part III: Considering how successful both programs have been for many years, it's odd that this is the first time Notre Dame and Stanford will meet in the NCAA tournament. The No. 1 seed in Oklahoma City, the Irish are led by guard Jewell Loyd, a candidate for player of the year, and Brianna Turner, among the best freshmen in the country.

Stanford, the No. 4 seed in OKC, has been led by its all-Texan backcourt of Amber Orrange and Lili Thompson.

17. 'Fa' -- a long, long way to run: Or to walk, as it were. As great as "The Sound of Music" is, there are a few flaws. For one thing, the movie's finale flunks geography. Salzburg is a couple of hundred miles from the Swiss border, and even the plucky von Trapp children couldn't hoof it that far. (In reality, the family escaped Austria by train to Italy, and eventually made it to the United States.)

And there are smaller issues. Like how did Maria sew so many clothes that fast out of curtains? And who believes a dumped baroness would exit so gracefully?

But like March Madness blooms and grows forever, so does the love each new generation of fans develops and keeps for a movie that so many count as one of their favorite things.

OK, so I've pushed this as far as it can go, and then some. Regretfully they tell me, but firmly they compel me, to say goodbye to you. Enjoy the Sweet 16.