Spring is in the air-and so are upsets

Justine Sgalio

With March madness taking over most of the college basketball fanatic’s life during the early days of spring, it is safe to say the expectations of this year’s NCAA tournament are higher than ever. However, one would not be able to tell if they took a closer look at everyone’s bracket.

The first round of the tournament turned over eight upsets, including the losses of Syracuse, Iowa, California, Kansas, Marquette, Michigan State, Nevada and Oklahoma. Not to mention seven out of those eight teams upset were all members of at least one of the Associated Press top 25 poll, CBS Sportsline poll, ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, or the official NCAA RPI ranking.

“This year’s NCAA tournament is an all out calamity; I mean I love watching 13 seeds beat 4 seeds as much as any other.  But I think I speak for most when I say that Kansas needed to be in the Final Four,” UNCW student and NCAA bracket fanatic Kurt Kessler said.

“I simply think the ‘upsets’ in college basketball prove that there is not a great disparity between the school in the BCS conferences and some of the best ‘mid-major’ teams in the country,” UNCW men’s head basketball coach Brad Brownell said. “When mid-major schools get the opportunity to play schools from the BCS conferences on a neutral site, it usually makes for evenly contested games.”

Round two on the other hand gave hope to the world of bracketology, turning over just four second round upsets, but a few hit harder than others.

“I’ve got to give it to Bradley, but what about that UNC nonsense? This year is one for the books,” Kessler said.

Just when things were beginning to look normal, Duke went down in flames too. But their loss to an athletic LSU was the only real surprise game the sweet sixteen had to offer fans with the exception of 11 seed George Mason’s victory over seventh seeded Wichita State that is.

Good thing too, because nobody was ready for the madness the elite eight was about to bring.

Three-out-of-four games were pretty even match-ups, proving to be pretty decent games-but nothing could compare to George Mason beating top seed UConn, a team that a good portion of bracket enthusiasts had going all the way.

Mason’s win has made them the first-ever team from the CAA to advance to the Final Four. According to ESPN.com’s tournament challenge, out of over 3 million brackets submitted George Mason was picked in 1,853 brackets to get to the Final Four, with only 677 putting them in the championship game, and a mere 284 making them national champions.

“That’s what makes NCAA Basketball and March Madness so special. It speaks to the parity we have now in college basketball,” UNCW associate athletic director Joe Browning said. “Regardless of the size or stature of a program, the tournament presents an opportunity to bring your best game against an opponent on a neutral court. The underdog often gains the support of the crowd and provides an even bigger lift.”