As well as a team may play in the regular season, even if its winning ends in a great seed position in March Madness, an upset is always possible on the basketball court. There can be Cinderella stories and miracles launched by upsets. Before March Madness commenced, 64 men’s teams entered the four bracket challenges. Experts said one of these five teams was likely to win it all: Michigan State, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
Middle Tennessee kicked Michigan State out in The Big Dance, the first round of games for all 64 teams. Indiana beat Kentucky in the second round. Kansas faces hometown favorite Maryland in the Sweet Sixteen March 24, North Carolina faces bracket buster Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen March 25. Oklahoma has avoided getting knocked out by a spoiler, but they play No. 3 seed Texas A&M in the Sweet Sixteen.
The most interesting part about this year’s March Madness is that there may be no perfect brackets after March 25. Even before the Sweet Sixteen, eliminations were dramatic. Middle Tennessee, a No. 15 seed, eliminated number two Michigan State, Stephen F. Austin University (SFA), seeded No. 14, beat No. 3 seed West Virginia and lucky 13 seed Hawaii knocked out No. 4 seed California. These unexpected losses all happened on the second day of the first round. This was the first time in men’s NCAA tourney history that the No. 13, No. 14, and No. 15 seed won on the same day.
The Steven F. Austin Lumberjacks played remarkably in their third straight time heading back to the Big Dance. They did it in style against West Virginia. Next, they lost against Notre Dame in a heartbreaker. The game was decided 76-75 by a tip-in basket that Notre Dame made with less than two seconds left on the clock.
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders victory over Michigan State marked the eighth time that the No. 2 seed was upset by a No. 15 since the NCAA tourney has expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The last upset like this was in the 2013 NCAA Tourney when No. 2 seed Georgetown lost to Florida Gulf Coast. The Blue Raiders didn’t really have a glass slipper in the next round. Once Syracuse drew its top player Jaqawn Raymond into foul trouble and locked into its powerful zone defense, the Orange crushed the Blue Raiders’ Cinderella dream.
Maybe Syracuse deserved better than its No. 10 seed. While the team struggled throughout the regular season with a conference record barely above .500, it had a decent overall record of 19-13. The program is recovering form a nine-game suspension of Coach Jim Boeheim imposed by the NCAA in March 2015. However, Syracuse had many good wins against Top 25 teams this year which could be the reason for its seeding in the top ten. Syracuse will face No. 11 seed, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, in the Sweet Sixteen.
The No. 5 seed Maryland did what No. 4 seed California couldn’t. In the first round, Maryland defeated South Dakota State 79-74 off a steal by former Duke star Rasheed Solumon. In the second round, the Terps knocked out Hawaii, 73-60, and notched some impressive NCAA stats. Maybe The Turtle should be fitted for glass slippers. However, they are going against the Kansas Jayhawks, the best number one seed in the tourney. A win against Kansas might be a miracle since Terps coach Mike Turgeon was an assistant coach under Jayhawks coach Roy Williams from 1987-1992. When Turgeon coached for Texas A&M (2007 to 2011) his teams were 0-6 against the Jayhawks.
Although, The biggest bracket buster was No. 2 seed Michigan State being eliminated by No. 15 seed Middle Tennessee was the biggest concern for many people who filled in their brackets. This was a concern because many people had their brackets favoring Michigan State to win it all.
Continuing though March Madness the upsets will pile up and your bracket will get closer to being busted whether you are competing in a bracket challenge or playing against your friends. Anything can happen in March Madness, so you will just have to wait until Final Four round comes. The huge aspect is that you may get a Final Four win or guess the national champ correctly. As the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight arrive, getting any matches right is huge.
Will Walde, 16, is a junior at the Lab School of Washington in the District of Columbia.
Please note: this blog entry should be dated March 24, 3:00 p.m.