March Madness lives up to hype, continues to bust brackets
By STEPHEN RECHTER
March Madness 2015’s Round of 64 immediately kicked things off with a typical dose of bracket-shattering, upset-filled hysteria.
Right off the bat, the tournament saw the defeat of two highly-regarded No. 3 seeds in painful, single-point losses. Little-known No. 14 seed University of Alabama Birmingham knocked out the first, Iowa State, by a score of 60-59. Baylor followed soon after, losing to No. 14 seed Georgia State in a 57-56 killer. Both of these losses quickly shocked fans and ruined brackets across the country.
However these would not be the end of the first round’s upsets, though no others were quite so shocking. Continuing in the trend of tight-scoring losses, No. 6 seed SMU was upset by No. 11 seed UCLA 60-59, while No. 10 seed Ohio State took down No. 7 seed VCU in a 75-72 overtime game. The final upset of the first round was the surprisingly decisive loss of No. 6 seed Providence to No. 11 seed Dayton in a marginal 66-53 affair.
Every other victory went to the higher-seeded team, though there were a number of close calls, particularly in the No. 8 and No. 9 seed matchups. Both Cincinnati vs. Purdue and N.C. State vs. Louisiana State University ended in nail-biting 66-65 finishes, with Cincinnati and N.C. State prevailing respectively.
Those hoping for the next round to calm the upset waters were also sadly disappointed, as the next round of the tournament also saw a number of major, bracket-crippling upsets. Of course, the biggest upset of the round is the early departure of highly-regarded No. 1 seed Villanova at the hands of No. 8 seed NC State in a close 71-68 game. They are the first No.1 seed to depart the 2015 tournament and this marks the fifth straight time that Villanova has failed to make it out of the first weekend alive in the tournament.
Two other shocking upsets of the round came at the heels of two highly-touted No. 2 seeds. The first was the surprisingly decisive loss of No. 2 seed Kansas to No. 7 seed Wichita State 78-65. Then, of course, came the bracket-busting loss of No. 2 UVA to No. 7 Michigan State.
The remaining two upsets from the round were from less-surprising No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed matchups. No. 5 Utah managed to topple the powerful No. 4 seeded Georgetown team 75-64. In similar fashion, No. 5 West Virginia defeated No. 4 Maryland 69-59.
The first weekend of the 2015 NCAA Tournament provided the traditionally exhausting list of early March Madness upsets. We have already lost a No. 1 seed, two No. 2 seeds and two No. 3 seeds with the Sweet Sixteen yet to commence. Every matchup is an important one now, but all eyes will particularly be on No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 5 West Virginia on Thursday, as the Wildcats attempt to continue on their remarkable perfect record season. What upsets await in the Sweet Sixteen? One thing is for sure: there are not many brackets left intact to ruin.