By: PJ Glasser
In my last article I tried telling you guys that the NCAA Tournament was the best sporting event in the world- hopefully, now you believe me.
We all thought after Buffalo took down Arizona by 20 and virtually ruining almost everyone’s brackets that, that would be the biggest upset of the Tournament. A day later we then saw Marshall, another 13-seed like Buffalo, take down 4-seed Wichita State, and record their first Tournament win in their school’s history. Then later that night we had the upset of all upsets. The Number 1 overall seed, Virginia, played UMBC a mid-major school from the American East conference who got in on a last second shot thanks to their star guard Jarius Lyles. According to ESPN, UMBC had a 1.5% chance to win the game. 16 seeds were 0-135 entering the game against 1 seeds and it is one of those things in sports people were wondering if we would ever see. UMBC did a good job of hanging around with UVA in the first half and keeping it close. Virginia’s defense as we all know is the best in the country, but UMBC was just as good on the defensive end in the first half. The score was tied at 21 and it marked the first time that a 1 and 16-seed were tied at halftime. In the 2nd half UMBC came out guns blazing and never looked back. They hit two 3-pointers in the first minute of the half and slowly started to look more and more confident. After that, Virginia had no answer and UMBC’s lead reached as much as 17 points before they ended up stretching it out to 20 at the end of the game. UMBC outscored the Cavaliers 53-33 in the 2nd half and won 74-54. It was the first time all season UVA had given up more than 70 points. Some people wondered if we would ever see a 16 beat a 1 and not only did we see one happen, but we saw a plain old fashioned beat down. UMBC takes on Kansas State in the 2nd round with the winner moving on to play in the Sweet 16 while Virginia who was 31-2 on the season and 17-1 in the ACC goes home on the wrong side of history.
As for the rest of the tournament the team who has surprised me most other than UMBC, Buffalo, or Marshall has to be Loyola-Chicago. The 11-seed took down Miami on a last second shot and then 2 days later did the same thing to the 3-seed in the South region, Tennessee. Loyola awaits the winner of Cincinnati-Nevada and has now proven to the country that they can compete with anyone.
The teams that look the most dangerous right now are Duke, Villanova, and Kentucky. Duke and Nova have gotten past their first two opponents with EASE. Duke led by senior, Grayson Allen and all those talented Freshman seem like their clicking at the right time. However, Duke awaits a possible matchup with Michigan State in the Sweet 16, Kansas in the elite 8, and Nova in the final four so a lot of work left for the Blue Devils. As for Nova, they became the first team to hit 14 plus three pointers in consecutive tournament games. The Wildcats are an offensive juggernaut who can puts up points with the best of them and are looking very reminiscent of the championship team two years ago. Then there is the other wildcats in Kentucky who might have gotten the biggest break of everyone. Buffalo took down Arizona and UMBC beat Virginia so Kentucky now looks like a shoe-in for the elite 8 and you feel pretty certain that they will make the final four.
Should be a great day of action as 8 more teams look to punch their tickets to the Sweet 16. Some upsets to look out for are Butler over Purdue, Florida State over Xavier, and Syracuse over Michigan State.