NCAAB 

Underdogs Shine in Opening Weekend of the NCAA Tournament

Every dog has its day and that couldn’t be more true in the NCAA Tournament.

On Friday night, the University of Maryland Baltimore County shocked the world and made history. The Retrievers stunned the No.1 overall seed Virginia 74-54 to become the first men’s team ever to be seeded 16 and knock off a 1-seed.

In 1998, the Harvard women’s basketball team was a 16-seed and upset No. 1 Stanford. Harvard is still the only women’s team to ever accomplish the feat. Now, they have company in the history books.

Many brackets were busted, but the historic win will be one that is remembered forever, which outweighs any prize in a bracket pool. Heading into that game, 1-seeds were 135-0. Not anymore.

UMBC did not bow out of the tournament without showing a tremendous amount of heart, before running out of gas and falling to 9 Kansas State. For the majority of the game, UMBC was in striking distance, often within, one-possession, but midnight struck for Cinderella and the historic run was over.

Hats off to head coach Ryan Odom and his staff for what they were able to do with and for their program. Odom will surely be getting phone call after phone call to gauge his interest in coaching elsewhere. No matter what he does going forward, no win will outdo what he was able to accomplish Friday night.

To borrow the verbiage of Paul Heyman, the advocate for the reigning, defending WWE Universal Champion, Brock Lesnar, the UMBC Retrievers are now the one in 135-1.

UMBC was not the only double-digit seed to make some noise over the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. 13 Buffalo knocked off 4 Arizona on Thursday night. This marks the 19th consecutive season the PAC 12 did not win the championship.

Another 13-seed, Marshall knocked off 4 Wichita State on Friday. A pair 11-seeds not only defeated 3-seeds in the opening round, but now find themselves in the Sweet 16. 11 Loyola-Chicago upset 3 Tennessee and then 6 Miami. Syracuse, a team many believed did not belong in this year’s tournament, defeated Arizona State in the First Four Game. Then the Orange upended 6 TCU and 3 Michigan State.

Jim Boeheim is at it again. When nobody believed in Syracuse and didn’t think they belonged in the Big Dance, here they are in the Sweet 16.

Sunday saw three lower-seeded teams knock off high-seeds. 7 Texas A&M ran 2 North Carolina off the court, something the Tar Heels usually do to teams. Then the comebacks occurred.

First it was 7 Nevada rallying from a 22-point deficit to shock 2 Cincinnati. The Wolf Pack led just one time in this game and it was when it mattered the most. Then later in the night, 9 Florida State erased a nine-point deficit with five-and-a-half minutes left to knock 1 Xavier out of the Tournament.

There are just as many 11-seeds (2) in the Sweet 16 as there are 1-seeds. The five-seeds went 3-1 in making the Sweet 16. This is the fifth-straight season, an 11-seed will make an appearance in the Sweet 16 and this year has two, vying for the Final Four.

The South Region has no top-four seeds in the Sweet 16, a first in tournament history.

For the Bluebloods of college basketball that bid farewell to the season, there are still plenty left that are all capable of cutting down the nets. 1 Villanova, 1 Kansas, 2 Duke, 3 Michigan, 4 Gonzaga and 5 Kentucky are all continuing to dance.

This year the NCAA Tournament has proved yet again why this is better than any reality show on television. You simply cannot script this kind of stuff. Nobody ever gives the 16-seeds a chance, yet finally, we saw history made. There is so much raw emotion just pouring out from the players, coaches and fans watching all over the world.

The joy of winning and agony of defeat is always on full display during March Madness. This year was no different and will continue to be that way until one team is cutting down the nets and being the last remaining team.

Survive and advance is the biggest key of this tournament. On top of that, the history that is made only heightens the drama that comes with these games.

Brackets were busted as history was made. No prize in any bracket pool compares to what unfolds in a tournament of this nature, especially this year with a 16-seed finally defeating a 1-seed in the men’s tournament.

Chances are, you will never forget where you were when you either watched or found out that UMBC beat Virginia, and not only beat them, but beat them senseless. That’s what this tournament is all about. If you are a fan of college basketball or basketball in general, there is no better time of the year.

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