There’s a reason why sports fans get excited about the month of March, because of the craziness; the intrigue; the uncertainty; and the madness of college basketball, the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, this wasn’t any different. Yes it is called “March Madness” for a reason but you could also it “March Sadness” for so many Seniors whose expectations to go deep into the tournament was cut short, and the daunting feeling of knowing that college careers, and for some playing days were over.
There was a record 10 double-digit seeds that won in the first round. We can expect a few double-digit seeds winning; that isn’t a surprise; that happens every year. For some of the double-digit seeds like the Wichita State’s and the VCU’s and even the Northern Iowa’s; I don’t take as a surprise because they’ve been here before. Those teams have gone deep in the tournament, and been somewhat successful. But it was the manner in way a lot of these teams were doing it. Consider Gonzaga for a moment. No one is surprised that they have played well up to this point in the tournament. Head coach Mark Few consistently has the Bulldogs in the Sweet 16; they just need to find a way to win both games to get to the Final Four.
At no other time in my memory has there been an upset that simply crushed the hearts of the average fan of college basketball that saw 15 seed Middle Tennessee State derail 2nd seeded Michigan State. There have been 7 other 15 seeds defeating a 2 seed, but none with this kind of impact and social media talk. Maybe not since it initially happened when Richmond defeat Syracuse in ’91. When Middle Tennessee State defeated Michigan State I tweeted out, “90 percent of the nation’s brackets just go blown up thanks to MTSU”. Because I can assure you that unless you lived near or on the campus of MTSU you picked Michigan State to not only win, but like me go on to be one of the Final Four teams.
There were some buzzer beaters; shocking moments; there were some “wow” moments as always; and then there were the absolute meltdowns that make you want to ask, “What in the world just happen?” These are the moments that make the tournament so great for the fans; unless you’re a fan of the team(s) who had those down moments. Northern Iowa Friday night was in the highest of clouds coming off a great win thanks to Senior guard Paul Jespersen’s half court buzzer beater to defeat Texas – to the lowest of lows after letting a 12 point lead against Texas A&M dwindle away with just under 45 seconds to go in regulation, and losing in double overtime.
When it was all said and done for the first weekend 16 teams remain; 6 out of the ACC; 3 from the Big Ten; 3 from the Big 12; and 1 each from the SEC, Big East, Pac-12 and WCC. The East Region will consisit of another ACC/Big Ten Challenge in the Sweet 16 round Friday night when 6th seeded Notre Dame squares off against 7th seeded Wisconsin, and in the night cap two old familiar foes reunite in the NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed North Carolina faces off against 5th seeded Indiana.
The West Region is the only region were the top 4 seeds all survived to make it to Anaheim of the Sweet 16. No. 1 seed Oregon who a lot of people thought was a miss seeding for the Ducks will face No. 4 seed Duke in the second game. Where No. 2 seeded Oklahoma will face No. 3 seed Texas A&M, who won by the hairs on their chinny-chin chin to against Northern Iowa to get to Anaheim.
In the South Region the No. 1 overall seed Kansas doesn’t have any easy road to get to Houston. Kansas may be the most complete team, but No. 5 seed Maryland is not short on talent, and could have easily been a 4-seed. On the in the other game waiting will either been No. 2 Villanova, who has dominated the competition up to this point or No. 3 Miami (Fla.), who is playing with a lot of confidence right now.
The Midwest Region is not as intriguing because it could be said that the winner of the Virginia-Iowa State game will most likely be moving on to Houston and the Final Four considering the two teams waiting in the wings and the only double-digits seeds left in the tournament No. 10 Syracuse, who was fortunate had an easy time against Middle Tennessee State going up against No. 11 seeded Gonzaga. Now it may be easy to say Virginia or Iowa State can breeze by Syracuse and/or Gonzaga, but if last week showed them anything, especially in that region; the seedings don’t mean anything.