By WC Peters
We saw history on Friday and a bunch of surprises throughout the first weekend of the tournament. This tournament was like the regular season I suppose, a bunch of good teams with no real dominant team to speak of. The madness started on Thursday with fourth-seeded Arizona Wildcats getting upset by the MAC Champion Buffalo Bulls, and Miami (Fla) losing to Loyola-Chicago and their super-fan Sister Jean! Then on Friday, the college basketball world got turned on its collective head, as for the first time in history, a sixteen seed upset a number one seed as UMBC blew out Virginia 74-54. Also on Friday, Syracuse, who won a play in game on Wednesday, beat TCU, the sixth seed out of the Big Twelve. Saturday, the only real upset was Loyola-Chicago beating up on the three seed Tennessee, but other than that the seeding pretty much held thanks to a last-second three by Michigan to hold off a feisty Houston team. Then today the mayhem hit a fever pitch when the second game of the day, Syracuse playing their third game in five days forced Michigan State to miss their last 15 shots and beat the third-seeded Spartans 55-53. Shortly after that, second-seeded Cincinnati was beating Nevada by 22 points in the second half and looked to be cruising to the Sweet Sixteen, but the Wolfpack had other ideas and closed the game on a huge run to win the game after taking their first lead with 9.1 seconds at 75-73. Clemson, whose Coach Brad Brownell was squarely on the hot seat at the beginning of the year, blew out Auburn to secure their position next weekend. Also, in the vain of blowouts, Texas A&M disposed of North Carolina’s junior varsity since their real team refused to show up. Unfortunately UMBC lost to Kansas State, and Xavier lost to Florida State.
Next weekend is going to be wild! As of right now, Loyola-Chicago or Nevada will be playing in the elite eight in the South Region. Also in the South, this is the first region ever where none of the top four seeds made the Sweet Sixteen. Kentucky will have to beat at least one single digit seed to get to the Final Four, as UMBC fell to Kansas State tonight. Kentucky was pretty bad at the beginning of the season and now are the favorite to go to the Final Four out of the South. The East Region will have Villanova playing West Virginia and Purdue taking on Texas Tech, which are all seeds inside the top 5. Not a whole lot of upsets outside of Marshall beating Wichita State on Friday. The Midwest Region will feature the top seed Kansas vs the upstart Tigers of Clemson. Look for a lot of points in this game. Both teams like to get up and down the court and shoot the three. In the other contest, second-seeded Duke will face the daunted 2-3 zone of the Syracuse Orangemen. This will be an interesting matchup. The key will be if Duke can make perimeter jumpers and if Syracuse can score the basketball, as they average less than 70 points a game. The West Region is interesting. In my opinion, Gonzaga is the best team in the region as the four seed and they have already punched their ticket to Sweet Sixteen. They will play either Xavier, the number one seed, or the ninth seed Florida State, neither of which I think can beat the Zags. In the other half of the region, Michigan, who hit a buzzer beater Saturday night to get to the Sweet Sixteen, plays Texas A&M who, blew out UNC today.
Here is to an exciting Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight! Use the next three days to get rested up for the best weekend of college basketball.