March Madness lives up to the hype

AUSTIN ARVAY

The Dayton Flyers knocked off two higher seeded teams on their way to the Sweet Sixteen.

The Dayton Flyers knocked off two higher seeded teams on their way to the Sweet Sixteen.

Every March, 64 college basketball teams from across the United States compete for the National Championship in the March Madness tournament. The competition is  always full of upsets and wild endings, and this year’s tournament is no different.

Millions of people around the world make their brackets, trying to pinpoint the winners of all 63 games. To make things even more exciting, stock market tycoon Warren Buffett offered up $1 billion for anyone who could pick a perfect bracket this year.

Good luck though. There are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets to choose from. Experts say your chances go from 1 in 9.2 quintillion to 1 in 4.3 trillion if you have some background knowledge on college basketball.

Sadly, after just two days into the tournament the dream died for everyone following a plethora of underdog victories. The 14th seeded Mercer Bears were only one of the bracket busters, taking down the third-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the opening round of the tournament.

But this was just one of many surprise wins, as double digit seeds Stephen F. Austin State University, University of Dayton, Stanford University, Harvard University, University of Tennessee and North Dakota State University  were all victorious in the first round.

The opening round games took place March 20 and 21, followed by the second round over March 22 and 23.

Although the upsets were plentiful, 15 of the top 16 seeded teams won their first matchup and kept their championship hopes alive.

The weekend games saw the field  trimmed from 64 teams down to just 16.

March 22 and 23 provided us with some of the best games of the season as well as even more upsets. Entering the tournament as a number one seed, the Wichita State Shockers were considered a favourite to win with a 34–0 record. Instead, the eighth seeded Kentucky Wildcats shocked everyone with a victory over the undefeated squad.

Led by Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins, the Kansas Jayhawks were a second seed in the tournament but were defeated by the 10th seeded Stanford Cardinal. Another number two seed, the Villanova Wildcats were downed by the seventh seed Connecticut Huskies.

The biggest cinderella story of the tournament so far just might be the Dayton Flyers. If you’re asking, ‘Who?’ you are not alone. Dayton entered the tournament with an at-large bid and was relatively unknown. Matched up with in-state rival Ohio State University, the 11th seeded Flyers knocked off the Buckeyes 60–59 on a last second shot to move on to the next round.

The Flyers went on to play Syracuse, a heavy favourite in both the game and the tournament. Dayton stunned everyone by winning 55–53, with celebrations breaking out across the campus following the win. One such party had the university president crowd-surfing among the euphoric student body.

Dayton is now set to play Stanford in the third round and will look to keep their unbelievable streak alive. Top seeds University of Florida, University of Arizona and University of Virginia have also moved on to the third round, as well as University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin — both second seeds.

Last year’s champion, the Louisville Cardinals managed to keep their season alive following a scare against the underdog Manhattan Jaspers. The team rallied late to win 71–64 and move on to the second round.

The University of Michigan, Wichita State University and Syracuse University joined Louisvlle in last year’s Final Four. Of these teams only Louisville and Michigan remain in the tournament.

March Madness action picks back up on March 27 and runs until March 30, when it will be down to the Final Four.


Photo: Chadcooperphotos/flickr