Sunday's NCAA tournament games definitely provided a jolt of electricity into this year's March Madness, which before that was missing a bit of the same buzz as last season.
Duke's nail-biting 77-76 win over UCF in the Zion Williamson vs. Tacko Fall game lived up to the hype and then some. Iowa's comeback from down 25 points to force overtime in a loss to Tennessee was an unexpected treat for even the casual college hoops fan.
Still, this is setting up to be a Final Four that will be lacking a feel-good, easy-to-root-for underdog story like last year with Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago. Sorry, Minneapolis, Cinderella won't be coming to your ball this spring.
Fourteen teams in the Sweet 16 are from Power Five conferences, including a who's who list of prominent programs such as Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, Michigan State and Kentucky.
The advancing teams look like this seed-wise: 1, 2, 3, 4 in the East, 1, 2, 3, 4 in the West, 1, 2, 3, 5 in the Midwest and 1, 2, 3, 12 in the South. The lowest seed still remaining is No. 12 Oregon, which defeated the last of the true Cinderellas in No. 13 UC Irvine on Sunday night.
The Ducks aren't exactly the new kids on the block, having made the 2016 Final Four. They were the preseason Pac-12 favorite when high-profile recruit Bol Bol was healthy, but he suffered a season-ending foot injury. Still, Oregon won the conference tournament in dominant fashion over regular-season champion Washington and blew out Wisconsin in the second round.
The West Coast Conference hasn't won the national title since Bill Russell's San Francisco teams in the 1950s, but Gonzaga's obviously not an underdog as a No. 1 seed in the West.
Houston is a No. 3 seed in the Midwest, but the Cougars are from the American Athletic Conference. They technically are still carrying the torch for non-Power Five programs. But even if Kelvin Sampson's team makes it to Minneapolis, this Final Four will have a different narrative than last year.
Here is a look at the updated paths in each region to reach the Final Four in Minneapolis:
Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, yet the Blue Devils are fortunate to still be alive after UCF had two shots for the win roll off the rim in the final seconds Sunday.
"We had a lot of foul trouble, and we are young, and we're not deep," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, "but we're good."
And now the Blue Devils face a regional bracket in Washington that still has the top four seeds.
Duke faces No. 4 seed and fellow ACC member Virginia Tech (26-8), and No. 2 Michigan State goes against No. 3 LSU — which is still without suspended coach Will Wade amid a federal investigation into corruption within the sport.
Gonzaga, too, sits atop a 1-2-3-4 bracket.
The Zags had little trouble reaching a national-best fifth straight Sweet 16. Now they find themselves in a familiar scenario: Playing Florida State in the regional semifinals for the second straight year.
The fourth-seeded Seminoles won last year's meeting and have plenty of confidence after beating Virginia in the ACC tournament semifinals.
"I thought they were really, really underseeded," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Thursday's other semifinal could be a rugged fight between No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Texas Tech.
No. 1 Virginia faces Oregon in pursuit of its first Final Four trip under coach Tony Bennett, and No. 2 seed Tennessee meets No. 3 seed Purdue after eventful second-round games for both.
The Vols survived in overtime against Iowa, and Carsen Edwards had a career-best 42 points in a rout of 2018 champion Villanova.
"I wouldn't say I knew I had a career night until the game was over," Edwards said. "I was just so focused on trying to get the win, especially in games like this where you value every possession."
No. 5 seed Auburn joins Oregon as the only surviving teams from outside the top 16 seeds and will face top-seeded North Carolina.
Kentucky plays third-seeded Houston, which set a school record for wins (33) when it beat Ohio State on Sunday.
P.J. Washington, the Wildcats' leading scorer and rebounder, missed the first two tournament games while wearing a hard cast on his sprained left foot.
"I know this, he really wants to play," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "But I also want to feel comfortable that if he gets on the court that there's nothing he can do to himself, and the doctors have pretty much said that. So it's just, 'OK, when is it healed enough that he can go?' "
The Associated Press contributed to this report.