Some teams just don’t have a shot. They are just happy they made it.. Then, something happens; they win. They keep winning, and upset all of the national powerhouse teams. That is why we love them.
They, of course, are our underdogs, our dark horses, our Cinderellas. While we have these teams in every sport, there is one particular sport that people seem to root for them the most: Men’s College Basketball.
Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, St. Johns, Syracuse, Purdue, Georgetown, and Louisville. They have all been upset early in the first two rounds (or three if you include the pointless “First Round”) of this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, or more affectionately called, March Madness. While some of these “upsets” could have been predicted, such as the evenly matched 10th-seeded Florida State Seminoles and the 7th-seeded Texas A&M Aggies, others are what makes this championship tournament the best in all sports, both collegiate and professional.
Take 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth for example. Most of the “expert analysts” on ESPN, and it’s affiliate stations repeatedly criticized the NCAA panel for snubbing teams like Colorado and Alabama, and putting in a team like VCU in their stead. Well, it seems like that must have offended the Rams and their star player, Joey Rodriguez. First, VCU played in the “First Four” round, beating USC by 13. VCU then went on to crush 8th-seeded Georgetown by 18 points in the first round of the tournament and then proceeded to torch 3rd-seeded Purdue by the same amount.
In another section of the Southwestern bracket, 10th-seeded Florida State has been on a Cinderella run of their own. Defeating 7th-seeded Texas A&M in a tightly contested first round game, they went on to beat down tournament favorite Notre Dame, the 2nd-seeded team in the Southwest. This sets up an interesting matchup between VCU and A&M, with one of the teams going on to the Elite 8 for the first time in either of the school’s history.
Staying in the Southwest, 12th-seeded Richmond narrowly beat 5th-seeded Vanderbilt, 66-69. Richmond then went on to trounce Morehead State, who had the first upset of the tournament over 4th-seeded Louisville. Richmond will now go on to play top-seeded Kansas in a true David vs. Goliath matchup.
On the other side of the bracket, 11th-seeded Marquette is stirring up quite the storm, as well. Upsetting 6th-seeded Xavier in the first round, the Golden Eagles played a great game against 3rd-seeded Syracuse, outlasting the Orange 66-62. They will play against a suddenly hot North Carolina team, that has aspirations of making it to the Final Four for the 19th time in school history.
In the Southeastern portion of the bracket, 8th-seeded Butler, last year’s Cinderella that made it to the championship game and was one half-court shot away from victory, came into the tournament determined to return to the championship game, but knew they had a tough road to get there. After narrowly escaping Old Dominion with a 60-58 victory, Butler was matched up with top-seeded Pittsburgh, and played in what is sure to be a Game of the Year nominee. After a back-and-forth battle in the final minutes, Butler’s star, Matt Howard, hit the game-winning free throws with less than a second left, sending the Pittsburgh Panthers home early. Butler now goes on to play 4th-seeded Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen.
This has been a very entertaining tournament, even more than usual. Personally, it has one of the most intriguing Sweet Sixteen rounds in recent history. There will probably be more upsets to come, but what lower seed team do you think will make it to the big dance? Or perhaps you think it will be a matchup of one seeds. Sound off in the comments below!
P.S. Now that my Longhorns have been knocked (cheated) out of the tourney, my vote is officially for sale, although my price certainly isn’t as high as this guy’s. So, who should I root for?