If anyone was wondering what the greatest tournament in sports is, all they had to do was watch the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament this past weekend.
The attraction to this tournament is the depth of teams, paired with unexpected upsets and buzzer-beaters. However, we don’t get that every year. Most years, the higher seeds advance and occasionally we have one Cinderella team that captures our hearts. The same cannot be said for this year’s tournament, as several teams have played the role of David and taken down Goliath.
The first three opening games of the tournament alone lived up to the hype, with a one-point game, an overtime game and a double overtime game. The day progressed with multiple buzzer-beaters, crushing the hopes of collegiate athletes and bracketologists.
There are 65 teams that begin in the tournament with dreams of earning a national championship. Realistically, there are usually about six or eight teams that have a shot at winning it all. That is not the case this year. At this point, just about anyone has the opportunity to win at all and cut down the nets.
For example, No. 14 seed Ohio destroyed Georgetown, who was one of the best teams in college basketball all season long. Another shocker came when No. 4 seed Vanderbilt was bounced by No. 13 Murray State. Also, two 11-seeds beat a couple of No. 6 seeds, and three No. 10 seeds beat 7-seeds.
The first round was a basketball fans dream. The madness did not stop there either.
Northern Iowa’s upset over Kansas, the tournaments overall No. 1 seed, on Saturday. Yes, you read that correctly, Northern Iowa. With just over 30 seconds left, Ali Farokhmanesh nailed a 3-pointer to put the game away and open the entire field for anyone to win it.
Heading into the sweet 16, there is a 9, 10, 11 and 12 seed remaining, with five teams coming out of mid-major conferences. I could easily make the argument that with some of college basketball’s best teams eliminated, it makes it easier on the remaining heavyweights, Syracuse, Kentucky and Duke, but that would go against the way this tournament is playing out.
When the tournament began, I had high hopes of filling out a great bracket and hopefully picking the winner. Unfortunately, since I had Kansas winning the championship, my bracket is officially busted, along with millions of others.
To show how crazy and unpredictable this tournament has been, out of almost five million brackets filled out on ESPN, no one has all 16 teams remaining and only four have 15 of the 16.
From here on out order could be restored, but I don’t think it will. Cornell, possibly this year’s Cinderella, is going to beat top-seeded Kentucky and Saint Mary’s will reach the elite eight.
Ultimately, the Final Four will consist of Ohio State playing Syracuse, and Cornell playing Duke. In the end the Orangemen will defeat the Blue Devils and cut down the nets in Indianapolis. Then again, in this wacky tournament season, what do I know?