The Madness has begun and it has been, well, absolute MADNESS!
More than 40 million brackets were busted before the first round even ended. At least fans can be comforted by the great games that went down over the first weekend and all the great games to come.
The tournament started off with a bang with a matchup between the Florida Gators and Virginia Tech Hokies. The Gators came out on top over Virginia Tech with a score of 75-70, which probably ruined many people’s brackets right away. However, this game had everything from injuries to blood, to a double-double and a shot that sent the game to overtime in the last few seconds.
Scottie Lewis, a first round NBA prospect, impressed fans and scouts with his ability to get to the rim and his defensive potential due to his length and size, but so did Colin Castleton who, essentially, won the game for the Gators.
After that result, many college basketball experts and fans expected the first upset would come from the Colgate Raiders. However, that thought didn’t last long.
The No. 14 seeded Colgate’s Cinderella run only lasted for about five minutes when the Arkansas Razorbacks turned up their defense and ran away with the game.
Even though Colgate didn’t come through, upsets were bound to come on the first day of the tournament, which they did.
The biggest one was the 15th seeded Oral Roberts taking down the No. 2 seeded Ohio State Buckeyes in an overtime classic.
Duane Washington Jr, an Ohio State guard who happens to be the nephew of NBA great Derek Fisher, missed a wide-open three ball to tie the game for Washington.The upsets continued with the No. 12 seeded Oregon State Beavers, who ousted the No. 5 seeded Tennessee Volunteers in a surprising blowout. Then, the No. 13 seeded North Texas Mean Green ruined many brackets after they beat the fourth seeded Purdue Boilermakers, 78-69.
To round off the upsets on the first day: the No. 11 seeded Orange of Syracuse took down the Aztecs of San Diego State who were on a roll before the tournament, and the No. 10 seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights beat down the No. 7 seeded Clemson Tigers. That win from Rutgers was their first victory in the Big Dance in 38 years! Congrats Scarlet Knight fans! Sadly, it didn’t last long, as the Knights lost their next game to the Houston Cougars.
Also on day one, two No. 1 seeds, Baylor and Illinois, both took care of business. West Virginia made quick work of Morehead State. Cade Cunningham and the Oklahoma State Cowboys took down Liberty in a closer-than-expected matchup where, in the second half, Cade Cunningham showed off why NBA draft experts are projecting him to be the number one pick in the next draft.
The Villanova Wildcats also silenced many critics as they won their first round matchup against the No. 12 seeded Winthrop Eagles.
Villanova came into the tournament vulnerable having lost their starting point guard, Collin Gillespie, to injury. However, on the back of a great performance from Jeremiah Robinson-Earl — who posted a double-double of 22 points and 11 rebounds — Villanova ousted Winthrop and advanced on to face North Texas.
There weren’t as many upsets on the second day of March Madness as the higher seeds were not in the mood to fall victim to the underdogs.
Most higher seeds won on the second day of the tournament, except for BYU, Virginia, Texas and UCONN who weren’t able to advance.
James Bouknight of the UConn Huskies fell to the No. 10 seeded Maryland after their offense was not up to par. Also, the No. 11 seeded UCLA Bruinsadvanced over the sixth seeded BYU Cougars. In fact, the Bruins are on their way to the Sweet 16 after destroying the No. 14 seed Abilene Christian in the second round.
Speaking of Abilene Christian, even though they got blown out by UCLA, what a win they pulled off against Texas. The Wildcats came away victorious in the dying embers of a game against the No. 3 seeded Texas Longhorns who many predicted would make the Final Four.
The No. 3 seeded Ohio side knocked off the No. 4 seeded Virginia Cavaliers to move on to the second round where they faced off against the No.5 seeded Creighton Blue Jays, who defeated UC Santa Barbara in their first round matchup.
Colorado stopped the march of Patrick Ewing’s Hoyas, while the No. 1 seeds, Gonzaga and Michigan, blew out their competition and advanced easily into the next round. The Kansas Jayhawks and Florida State Seminoles also advanced, while Evan Mobley propelled the USC Trojans past the Drake Bulldogs.
Rick Pitino’s Iona also almost gave Alabama a scare, but the Crimson Tide closed out well to move on. Luka Garza and the Hawkeyes also advanced, as well as the Oklahoma Sooners and LSU Tigers. Lastly, one of the biggest surprises of the tournament thus far pertains to the VCU Rams. VCU was hit by COVID-19 and could not compete. As a result, their first round opponent, the Oregon Ducks, advanced to the next round.
The second round of the Big Dance was even more surprising than the first, with Loyola Chicago eliminating the Midwest No. 1seed, Illinois.
Loyola came out strong from the opening tip and did not take their foot off that gas pedal until the final buzzer. Their excellent defense contained one of the best players in the nation, Ayo Dosunmu, and managed to contain big man Kofi Cockburn.
The other No. 1 seed on the third day of the tournament, Baylor, did not lose and advanced with a win over Wisconsin who knocked off UNC to get there.
Another major surprise came once again from Oral Roberts in the second round. The No. 15 seed went on to oust the No. 7 seeded Florida Gators following their win against Ohio State in the first round. An incredible run is being put together right now.
Another team pulling off an incredible run is Oregon State. The Beavers spelled curtains for Cade Cunningham’s college career and bested the No. 4 seeded Oklahoma in the 32nd round.
In other games on day three, Syracuse upset West Virginia and Arkansas closed out a nail-biter against Texas Tech in a 68-66 win, to advance to the Sweet 16. Houston, Baylor and Villanova have all advanced to the next weekend of the Big Dance.
On the last day of the first weekend of the tournament, Luka Garza and the Iowa Hawkeyes fell victim to yet another upset as the Oregon Ducks scored an impressive 95 points, sending Luka Garza to the cleaners.
Gonzaga took care of business against Oklahoma. UCLA and Creighton have also continued on to the Sweet 16 as they picked up victories against Abilene Christian and Ohio respectively. Michigan survived an impressive performance from LSU and Colorado fell to a rolling Florida State Seminoles team who many have penciled in for the Final Four.
To round off the night, the Crimson Tide of Alabama advanced comfortably over Maryland and the Mobley brothers put on a show to get USC through to the Sweet 16 with a victory over Marcus Garrett and the Kansas Jayhawks.
Overall, the first weekend, the first two rounds were, well, absolutely mad! It’s not called “March Madness” for nothing. There were excellent performances from players like Evan Mobley and Corey Kispert, and many upsets.