Take a deep breath and relax. The first weekend of NCAA March Madness has come and gone leaving us with four days to reflect on one of the most shocking starts to a tournament since the 64-team bracket was introduced. Forget the fact that your girlfriend, who picked winners based on team colors, and your sister, who thought Lehigh was a ‘cool’ name, both have better brackets than you do. The field has now been reduced to the 16
most fortunate best teams in America.
All four Number 1 seeds have made it to the sweet 16. Both Kentucky and North Carolina (UNC) cruised through the first two rounds easily, but not without controversy. UNC guard Kendall Marshall suffered a broken wrist against Creighton and may not be available when they play against the surprising 13th seed Ohio Bobcats on Friday. Other Number 1’s, Syracuse and Michigan St., were not as impressive in the first two rounds, but managed to persevere and join their fellow top seeds in the last 16.
Perennial powerhouses and Number 2 seeds, Ohio St. and Kansas are both still in the running and are ready to compete for a National Title after escaping the weekend with two tough wins (OSU over Gonzaga and KU over Purdue).
As far as underdogs remain, two stand out and both reign from the Midwest Region of the bracket. #11 N.C. State defeated a talented Georgetown team in the round of 32 and will now face Kansas. #13 Ohio, who beat the
overrated Michigan Wolverines in the first round, prepare to face off against the aforementioned UNC Tar Heels.
I’d be lying if I said this is tough to say, so good riddance to Duke, Georgetown, Michigan, Missouri, and the fans that come with them. It might be the bitter UCLA fan in me, but seeing this group of highly ranked, overvalued schools eliminated from the tournament has made for a surprising and more exciting first two rounds of the tournament.
What to Expect
As much as a good underdog story really does warm the heart, it is hard to see any Cinderella teams making it to the Final Four. That being said, in a tournament where it is only one game, on one day with everything on the line; it would be hard to count out Ohio, N.C. State or even Xavier.
Only three people who entered a bracket on www.espn.com are currently perfect after two rounds and I am currently operating at 60% efficiency, but I would regret not offering an opinion on the Final Four (in case I’m right), so here it is:
Kentucky v. Florida and Ohio St. v. UNC