March Madness is finally here and it didn’t disappoint.
The NCAA tournament is one of the few sporting phenomena that draws in diehard fanatics as well as casual fans.
Here’s how the first two rounds of the tournament unfolded.
College basketball has taken a hit recently in light of pay-for-play scandals that bubbled up, but that was all quickly put on the back burner due to an exciting weekend of basketball.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Remember when men’s college basketball was doomed? Remember when the public had finally gotten fed up with all the corruption, skulduggery and FBI gumshoeing and decided to abandon the sport forever?
Remember that? Wasn’t that like…six days ago?
Yeah, I don’t remember it, either. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament has roared into action and immediately overwhelmed all the cynicism and pearl-clutching about the future of the game.
College basketball is irredeemable? How could you say that, after watching the University of Maryland, Baltimore County stun the tournament’s top seed, Virginia—the first time a No. 16 seed has beaten a No. 1?
How could you say it after Sunday night, when the Retrievers, newly anointed as America’s Most Adorable Team, hit the court against Kansas State and…OK, so the game against Kansas State didn’t go as well. Sigh.
How about this then: Nevada crawling back from a 22-point second half deficit to beat two seed Cincinnati. That was nutso.
With all of this insanity happening, how could anyone claim to be suffering from “March Sadness?” Explain your melancholy to the 98-year-old Loyola-Chicago superfan Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt, who’s headed to the Sweet 16 after back-to-back upsets by the Ramblers.
(I mean, I’m sure you’re experiencing sadness if you’re an Arizona fan. Or a North Carolina fan. Or a Cincinnati fan. Or a Virginia fan, even though Journal Sports Team wunderkind Andrew Beaton warned you that an upset could be coming, and is going to dine out on it the rest of his life.)
Without question, the story of the first two rounds was the Cinderella upset to end all upsets: UMBC defeated top-seeded Virginia in blowout fashion.
After everyone checked the box score and did a double-take, they promptly googled “UMBC” to find out where the school was located.
The Retrievers will forever be immortalized in college basketball history.
March 16, 2018 11:33 PM eastern #16 The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) 74 #1 University of Virginia 54 It’s even better with Titanic music! (@UMBCAthletics with the upset to end all upsets) 🏀🚢🎶 https://t.co/0JKG4ur6Ko
As for the rest of the action, here’s how the Sweet 16 has taken shape.
From CBS Sports:
The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament was the perfect example of why they call it March Madness. Half of the 1-3 seeds didn’t make it to the Sweet 16, a 16 beat a 1 for the first time ever, and two double digit seeded teams remain in the hunt for the national championship.
Only two days after the top-seeded Virginia Cavaliers were bounced by 16 seed UMBC, Xavier, the top seed in the West, also tripped up. The Musketeers suffered a stunning defeat to No. 9 seed Florida State in the second round on Sunday, 75-70, leaving just two 1 seeds still in the hunt.
That means of the eight Sweet 16 games upcoming this week, only four will involve a No. 1 or No. 2 seed. It’s the type of parity that makes March so fun, unpredictable gut-wrenching, especially for those who bowed out early.
Now that the first weekend is in the books, however, the field has been whittled to 16 as the road to the Final Four is now beginning to take shape. Here are the teams that are still in the hunt.
No. 5 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Kansas State
No. 7 Nevada vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago
In Los Angeles
No. 4 Gonzaga vs. No. 9 Florida State
No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 7 Texas A&M
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 5 West Virginia
No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 3 Texas Tech
No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 5 Clemson
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 11 Syracuse