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March Monontony? No!

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

After a “boring” first day, the NCAA Tournament picked up with unbelievable upsets and exciting finishes.

March Monontony? No!

Excuse me for this lame line, but there's a reason it's called "March Madness".  When you put 68 teams in a bracket and have them play in a single-elimination format, crazy things are going to happen.

Oddly enough, that wasn't the case on the tournament's opening night.  Of the 16 games, the higher-ranked seed won every game but two.  It was, in a sense, boring to see the bracket go chalk like that.  This tournament is characterized by upsets, and us fans were deprived of any real upsets aside from the traditional 12 over 5 (VCU over Wichita State) and an 11 over a 6 (Colorado over UNLV).

Everything changed on Friday though.  While the early games were decidedly chalk, N.C. State took down a tough San Diego State team (another 11 over 6).  Then things got downright crazy.  15 seed Norfolk State, led by Kyle O'Quinn, took down Final Four favorite and 2 seed Missouri in a shocking upset.  No one led by more than 6 the entire game, and each team just kept trading haymakers.  The whole time it was happening, I kept thinking "This can't be happening."  Phil Pressey missed a last-second three, and the 86-84 upset was complete.  Brackets had been busted, and March Madness was finally here.

This game set the stage for an even more improbable night session.  10 seed Purdue and Robbie Hummel took down 7 seed St. Mary's.  A wayward three point attempt by Gaels senior Rob Jones was off the mark, ensuring that Hummel's collegiate career would continue.  D.J. Cooper and 13 seed Ohio then won a wire-to-wire game against 4 seed Michigan, pulling off their second 13-over-4 upset in three years.  Tu Holloway and 10 seed Xavier took out 7 seed Notre Dame on a late shot by their senior leader.  12 seed South Florida overcame a dreadful first half (15 points) and stormed ahead to an upset of 5 seed Temple.  Then the Lehigh Mountain Hawks, led by C.J. McCollum's 30 points, dispatched of Coach K, Austin Rivers, and 2 seed Duke.  

To emphasize the craziness of the evening, prior to Friday, 15 seeds had beaten 2 seeds only four times, the last occurring in 2001.  It happened twice on Friday.  Madness indeed.

When I was younger, I used to get furious when upsets ruined my brackets.  As I've gotten older, I've learned to appreciate the aesthetic joy of the underdogs taking out the Goliaths (even though my underdog never seems up to the task, which I will elaborate on in the future).  I've put aside potential monetary gain to be able to enjoy watching these tiny schools enjoy glory for one night, and in the cases of Butler, VCU, and George Mason, for a couple of weeks.  

And that's what makes the NCAA Tournament so special.  In other sports, a team like the Giants winning the Super Bowl over the Patriots in 2007 really isn't as much of an upset as much as a slightly unexpected outcome.  It wasn't like it could never happen.  The Cardinals can make a run to the World Series  But Norfolk State over Missouri?  Lehigh over Duke?  Those are upsets of massive proportions.  Duke beats Lehigh 99 out of 100 times, and this one time happened to occur in the NCAA Tournament.

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to see the NCAA Tournament Final Four in New Orleans.


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