From 9:05 a.m. Thursday morning till the clock hit 0:00 on the scoreboard in Denver on Sunday night, we saw the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament shrink from 64 teams to 16.
March Madness never disappoints — electric, dramatic and unbelievable.
Let’s recap …
It took only the second game of the tournament to spring a huge upset. Mid-major Furman took down ACC powerhouse Virginia in a game that shifted in the final seconds behind an errant pass that led to a game-winning 3-point shot to give the Paladins an unlikely win in their first appearance in the Big Dance in 43 years.
Next up in Orlando, the San Diego State Aztecs got off to a sluggish start, fought their way back and over a high-scoring Charleston team that won 20 games in a row this season. SDSU’s defense was tough and solid all game. On Saturday, the Aztecs had little trouble with Furman. Senior leadership and poise were the key factors in both games for the locals.
It didn’t take long for another tremor to shake the tournament as Princeton finished the game with a 9-0 run to shock Arizona and move on to the next round. It marked 25 years since the Tigers won a game in the tournament.
Then Friday gave us another 16 seed eliminating a No. 1 seed, as we saw in 2018 when UMBC took down Virginia, with Fairleigh Dickinson pulling the same trick by eliminating Purdue in stunning fashion. This result wrecked every perfect bracket left.
After Thursday, only 658 perfect brackets were left out of 20,635,335. After Friday night, there were none left, just wasted paper.
It continued to be wild and woolly throughout Friday and all weekend. That’s why they call it March Madness.
The Sweet 16:
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Creighton, Florida Atlantic, Gonzaga, Houston, Kansas State, Miami, Michigan State, Princeton, San Diego State, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Xavier.
Michigan State vs. Kansas State: The Spartans have the magic of Tom Izzo, who gets his team right for the month of March, and they are big down low. Kansas State has been playing well, and both teams are capable of a big game. Edge to Kansas State.
Florida Atlantic vs. Tennessee: This looks like the Vols’ game all the way. FAU is talented but doesn’t stand up to Tennessee. Edge to Tennessee.
Arkansas vs. Connecticut: This will be a battle. I have watched UConn for the past few weeks, and the Huskies are big, strong and loaded. Arkansas will be up against it all night. Edge to Connecticut.
Gonzaga vs. UCLA: Here we go again, shades of the Final Four a few years back. This will be a war to end the night. UCLA has been solid all year with senior leadership and defense. Gonzaga has been Gonzaga and has been playing well lately. Edge to UCLA.
SDSU vs. Alabama: The Aztecs move from Orlando to Louisville to meet the beast. Alabama has been a top 5 team all year. The Tide drills teams and is physical and athletic. SDSU will counter with the best defense ’Bama has seen all season. Edge to San Diego State.
Miami vs. Houston: Both teams are well-coached and can move up and down the floor. Houston knows how to get to the Final Four, and this gets the Cougars one game closer. Edge to Houston.
Princeton vs. Creighton: Both teams are playing tough and tight. Both can shoot and score. This game, to me, is dead even. Who knows?
Xavier vs. Texas: Two tough teams playing right. One will lose. I think Texas is a Final Four team and can create havoc. Xavier head coach Sean Miller has been excellent in rebuilding the Musketeers in his first season and a second stint in Cincy. Edge to Texas.
We’ll know the Final Four by Sunday … then off to Houston for the chip. It’s been a tremendous college basketball season. Cheers!
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