April 12th, 2018
March in college basketball is as infuriating as it is spectacular.
Two days into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, there are zero perfect brackets left, according to online reports. Big-name players like Trae Young and big-name programs like Arizona have already been bumped off, and we can’t help ourselves but be all in for the insanity.
Friday, March 16 was a historic day in tournament history, as for the first time ever a #16 seed knocked off a #1. A school that almost no one had ever heard of, the University of Maryland in Baltimore County Retrievers, took down the Virginia Cavaliers, a team picked by many to go all the way, 74-54. That historic upset is the one that broke all remaining brackets, but it was just one in an outstanding list this year.
The #13 Buffalo Bulls took down another favourite in the #4 Arizona Wildcats, 89-68 on the first day of the round of 64, on Thursday. The other big upset out of the South region bracket, in which Virginia and Arizona were playing, was #11 Loyola-Chicago over #6 Miami. The Hurricanes were considered to be one of the best teams in the country early on in the season, and despite injuries and a weaker second half of the season, they were expected to make a long run into the tournament.
For the first time ever a #16 seed knocked off a #1
In the East region, the biggest upset was #13 Marshall over #4 Wichita State. In the past few national tournaments, the Shockers of Wichita State have become a fan favourite and have earned themselves consideration as being one of the best programs in the country. A potential champion on a number of brackets this year, including mine, their upset was a huge shake-up in tournament expectations. The other upset of note in that region was #10 Butler over #7 Arkansas, by seventeen points.
One of the most impressive teams through the opening round has been Syracuse, a team that many were arguing had no right to be in the tournament in the first place. Not only did they win their play-in game against Arizona State to earn the #11 seed in the Midwest region, but they took down #6 TCU by five to move on to the round of 32.
There is still a chance that we could end up with a UNC-Duke matchup in the championship game, and we could see another extended run by Gonzaga after their appearance in the title game last year. But somehow more than any year in the past, this tournament feels like it is completely up in the air. It may be the historic nature of some of the upsets that we’ve seen, but all year long there has been a level of parity that was previously unheard of in NCAA men’s basketball.
At this point, most watching the tournament are hoping for a serious Cinderella story. If by some miracle UMBC is able to make a run, even get to the Final Four, there would be utter pandemonium on the internet and they would become the story of the year. As memes of dumpster fires and bracket smashing can testify to, we are all in on the insanity that is March Madness.