If you’re a basketball fan of any type, March is most likely one of your favorite months out of the year. Whether it be making brackets, watching your favorite team winning or losing, seeing the upsets, seeing the heartbreak, March Madness is always at the top of the TV listings. This year may be different than most years. Mid-way through the second round, there has been a glaring lack of upsets, which people did not see coming.
When March Madness starts, most people talk about what upsets they think are going to happen or which big team is going to fall first. In this year’s tournament, it’s been a lack of both. In the first day of the first round, the madness started off right with Princeton taking Notre Dame to the final seconds. Princeton fouled Notre Dame with 10 seconds to go to put Matt Farrell on the line in a one-and-one situation. He missed the first shot to give Princeton a chance, but Notre Dame played good enough defense for Devin Cannady to miss the game-winning shot and avoid the big upset from Princeton 60-58.
In possibly one of the most called upsets, Middle Tennessee beat out the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the classic 12 seed beating a 5 seed. This was no ordinary upset. Gophers’ starting 5th-year senior guard Akeem Springs was not able to play as he tore his Achilles tendon in the B1G conference tournament against Michigan. This turned the tides for Minnesota after a brilliant turnaround season giving head coach Richard Pitino the B1G Coach of the Year Award. But losing Springs became too big of odds for Minnesota as Vegas even had the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders as the favorite in this game. The Blue Raiders proved to be just that as they had their way with the Gophers previously suffocating defense and drive-to-the-bucket offense. But Pitino’s squad didn’t show signs of quitting as the Gophers were down by 17 points at one point but got it back to a five point margin before the fouls piled up for Minnesota and they took the loss behind a solid Middle Tennessee squad who upset Michigan State last year as a 15 seed.
In another less than surprising upset, the experienced Xavier Musketeers took care of business against the Maryland Terrapins in a 6 and 11 matchup. Xavier’s defense proved to be the X factor as they held Maryland to 40% from the field shooting and 25% from beyond the arc shooting. Trevon Bluiett led the way for the Musketeers sniping 50% from three-point land and getting to the bucket as well. Maryland’s star Melo Trimble had a tough night all around shooting a putrid 1-9 from three and Maryland got crushed under expectations and fall to Xavier.
It was the year of the 11 seed beating the 6 as two more upsets came from that part of the bracket. USC shocked SMU and Rhode Island took care of business against Creighton. USC won in a thriller and sat behind stellar performances from Bennie Boatright and Elijah Stewart both scoring over 13 points. USC’s shooting and rebounding became the deciding factor in this one. A tough night for Creighton’s stars became the reason of their early dismissal in the big dance as Freshman star Justin Patton had a 3-12 shooting night. The Blue Jays also coughed the ball up 11 times to the Rams giving them the slight advantage and the next round bid.
Heading into day two in the less than exciting day one, it felt like a huge upset was looming. A couple shockers did end up happening as Wisconsin took out the overall number one seed Villanova. Also the Musketeers came up big again and shocked Florida State in a beatdown that nobody expected.
The senior dominated Badgers and defending champs Villanova went back and forth all game long, before Nigel Hayes pulled a trick out of the book with a beautiful spin move and reverse layup to take the lead and ‘Nova had no tricks left of their own as they fell to Wisconsin 65-62.
The score was not even close in the Xavier vs. Florida State game. Except the final box score was in favor of Xavier. The Musketeers demolished the Seminoles by 25 points behind a great overall shooting night for Xavier. The Musketeers shot 56% from the field and 65% from three compared to the Seminoles 40% from the field and very forgettable 19% from three. The combination of great looks and putting the ball in the bucket pulled Xavier away from Florida State. The Seminoles just couldn’t put anything in, and when it’s March Madness, every team has to be on their top game otherwise they could be in for a rude ending. In this case, Florida State was the victim and Xavier advances to the Sweet 16.
There have been a few shockers coming into day two of the second round and more Madness is bound to continue. The defending champion Villanova Wildcats took the heartbreaker to Wisconsin, so there will be a new king of college basketball crowned by the time it is all said and done. Many teams look hungry such as Wisconsin or Xavier, and more teams are looking at their chance to snatch the title.