Pretty much every bracket has been busted and nothing is actually a surprise anymore. But as we head into day of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, there are a few games that might show us a few new tricks and add to the lore and history of March Madness.
What have we had so far that shocked us? Arkansas Little-Rock (beating Purdue) and Yale (kicking out Baylor) set the pace on the first day of the first round, followed by Wichita State (not that big of a surprise) sending home Arizona. There were three 9 seeds who won their games, but that’s never a surprise, and despite being the #11 seed, Gonzaga beating Seton Hall quite easily stunned nobody.
Day 2 is when the s**t really hit the fan. It wasn’t the colossal number of lower seeds beating up on the favorites, but also the dramatic finishes in some of these games. Nothing shocked the world, the field and sent brackets spiraling into the abyss than Middle Tennessee beating Michigan State 90-81. Not just the 8th time a 15 seed beats a number 2. The Spartans were the popular pick for national champions and certainly the Final Four. It’s only the fifth time in Blue Raiders history they’re in the round of 32, and their first since 1989. They’ve never gotten any further.
Stephen F. Austin provided the 14 on 3 upset against West Virginia, winning by 14 points. The mayhem on the court and their defense suited the lower seed, although many saw this coming, as the Texas school is just the kind of team the Mountaineers are supposed to have trouble with. Hawaii won their first even tournament game a bit later, beating California, sending the #13 seed into uncharted territory.
Syracuse and VCU, both 10 seeds, winning their games wasn’t a surprise. And you know what? Northern Iowa beating Texas shouldn’t be too much of a shocker either. But the way it was done – a half court buzzer beater (not the only buzzer beater by an Iowa school during the day) defied logic and imagination. It provided one of the best pictures we’ve seen this year, and an all-time great moment in NCAA Tournament history.
So what happens in day 3, as the Round of 32 begins? Nothing is going to be a surprise now, but still, some games have bigger warning signs shining above them than others. No number one seed has been knocked out… yet. Virginia, Kansas and North Carolina are all playing, and one of them falling along the way would provide another interesting angle to this already hectic weekend.
Who is the most vulnerable of the three? I think Virginia (playing Butler) are the safest. While Kansas are deep, experienced and talented, UConn are hard to finish off, and might provide to be more troublesome than some expect. Providence aren’t going to be easy for North Carolina, but I do expect their size and experience to be enough to make it into the Sweet 16.
Yale and Duke has upset written all over it, because of how difficult it was for the Blue Devils to put away UNC Wilmington. Wichita State can drag Miami into something ugly and slow, Arkansas Little-Rock should have a trick or two up their sleeve against Iowa State and Gonzaga have a team good enough to send Utah packing.
There’s on rivalry game between Indiana and Kentucky. Despite the #5 vs #4 official seeding, the Wildcats aren’t your typical number 4 seed in terms of talent. A Hoosiers team that relies a bit too much on Yogi Ferrell can get through this one, but it’ll one of the biggest upsets of the day if they do.