By Matt Denhartigh
“The clocks winding down, one shot and they’re going to the big dance, 3… 2… 1… he pulls up for the jumper. It’s up. It’s good! Are you kidding me?! How clutch are these guys! They’re going dancing as hundreds of students storm the court!!!”
It’s that time of year again folks, as the Madness of March has returned! Teams have punched their ticket to the big dance, and millions of fans across the country have filled out their brackets.
Sports fans across the U.S. have tuned in to the first round games and are watching as their favorite teams take the court.
As we ease into the opening round of the tournament let’s take a look at some of the early storylines and Cinderella stories.
Day one of the tourney saw some hectic basketball action as many high seeded teams were knocked out earlier than most people expect
One of the favorites that were unexpectedly booted from the tournament were the number two seeded Kentucky Wildcats, who were favored in 96.6 percent of brackets according to yahoo sports.
They were outworked as the 15th seeded St. Peter’s Peacocks took the Wildcats to overtime, where they dominated their opposition and managed to scrape up a tough 85-79 victory, shocking the world!
This is only the 10th time a 15 seed has knocked out a No. 2 seed in the history of the men’s tournament. The last time a two seed was booted so early was in last year’s tournament when Oral Roberts defeated Ohio State, 75-72.
As the Peacocks were able to take out one of the tourney’s top competitors, the Spiders of Richmond were able to accomplish a similar feat. When they took down the fifth seeded Iowa Hawkeyes in a 67-63 thriller. The 12th seeded Spiders have been on a heater as of late winning their last five games, including the Atlantic 10 Championship game.
Another notable victory came from the Michigan Wolverines, an 11 seed when they took down the sixth seeded Colorado State Rams.
Michigan was down early in the game, but were able to come back as their star center Hunter Dickinson and point guard Eli Brooks led the way for the Wolverines with a combined 37 points in the comeback win.
After day one of the tournament there were only 161 perfect brackets remaining out of over 17 million submitted. Which leaves us “bracketologists” a little upset, as our hopes of another perfect bracket will have to wait another 365 days.
As we transition into day two action of the big dance, many new storylines have risen with a few bracket busting wins by unthinkable teams.
The biggest Cinderella stories of day two of the tournament would have to come from two of the tournament’s 11 seeds.
Both 11th seeded Notre Dame and Iowa State were able to knock off their respective sixth seeded opponents, Alabama and LSU. Making them the second and third eleven seeds to make it to the second round, following in Michigan’s footsteps.
While these were the only true upsets, there were a couple games that had sports fans on the edge of their seats.
As Illinois (No. 4 seed) battled all the way to the final buzzer, fending off the Scrappy Moc’s of Chattanooga (No. 13 seed). As the Moc’s fell short of the upset, losing 55-54.
Another barn burner from day two of the tournament was the game of the Michigan State Spartans versus the Davidson Wildcats.
The Wildcats and Spartans went back and forth throughout the game with many lead changes. It came down to the wire, but the Spartans were able to hold on to the lead that they acquired late in the game.
MSU forward Joey Hauser led the way for the Spartans as he put up a career high 27 points, shooting 9-12 from the field and 4-6 from beyond the arc.
Michigander sports fans live to fight another day as both Michigan and Michigan State have advanced to the next stage of the tournament.
At the start of day two there were 161 remaining perfect brackets, but that dwindled away fast with the upsets from Notre Dame and Iowa State.
With day two in the books there are no longer any perfect brackets left. Better luck next year folks!
The transition into round two of the tournament was quite fast as the 32 remaining competitors battled to make it to the Sweet 16, after a brief 24 hour rest.
With eight games taking place on Saturday, and another eight on Sunday there was plenty of action to take in, with a few historic and upset wins.
Saturdays slate of games brought several intense match-ups, including that of the North Carolina Tarheels (#8) vs. the Baylor Bears (#1).
The Tarheels came out guns a blazin, as they led the Bears 42 – 29 at the half. They managed to gain a 25 point lead through the second half, which soon shrank as the Bears were able to claw their way back into the game, forcing overtime late.
While the one seeded Bears battled and fought hard to get back into the game, the Tarheels were the ultimate winners as they found their touch once again in OT and came out on top, winning 93 – 86.
Two more games that caught the attention of fans, were the games of St. Peter’s (#15) vs Murray State (#7) and Michigan (#11) vs. Tennessee (#3).
Most people would’ve guessed Tennessee and Murray State to come out on top, however this was not the case, as both the double digit seeded teams came out victorious.
Michigan dominated their opposition, defeating the Volunteers 76 – 68. While St. Peter’s beat Murray State 70 – 60, becoming just the third 15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16 in tournament history.
While the Saturday games brought some unexpected upsets, Sunday also had some key matchups and surprises. With highly ranked Auburn (#2) and Wisconsin (#3), getting sent home earlier than most would have thought.
Auburn the saw their tourney cut short as the Miami Hurricanes (#10) beat them easily, as they took them down with a final score of 79 – 61.
The Wisconsin Badgers were also sent home quite early, as some brackets had them making it to the Final Four. The Badgers met the 11th seed Iowa State Cyclones, and battled in a very low scoring game.
The Cyclones seemed to control the flow of the game, and held the Badgers to only 49 points, as they beat them by a handful of baskets, 54 – 49.
With the round of 32 in the books, the Sweet 16 is right around the corner with the first four games beginning on Thursday, March 24, and the other four games taking place the following day, Friday, March 25.
The games can be watched on both TBS and CBS, as the remaining teams are looking to slot themselves into the quarterfinal Elite 8.