By: Carter Caldwell
This March, and every March since 1939, college basketball fans have gotten to participate in one of the most frustratingly exciting games of all-time: March Madness. Every year, 68 schools in the NCAA’s Division I get to send a team to compete in the alluring tournament, out of which just one team will come out on top. This year, just as every year, has certainly lived up to the madness.
The games began on March 13, when the “First Four” played–the games occurred at the University of Dayton. There, 16-seeds Radford and Texas Southern, along with 11-seeds Syracuse and St. Bonaventure secured a spot in the Round of 64. From there, the games continued. In the Midwest, Kansas, Seton Hall, Duke, and Clemson all saw decisive wins over their opponents, while the other four winners had to fight a bit more for their victories. In the end, Auburn and Michigan State fended off their would-be upsetters by a narrow four points, while Rhode Island escaped by five. Unfortunately for TCU fans, the 6-seeded Horned Frogs could not escape 11-seeded Syracuse, who won the game by five points to advance onward.
In the East, Villanova, West Virginia, Florida, Texas Tech, Butler, and Purdue all easily bested their opponents, while Alabama and Marshall fought closer games to upset their opponents. Thirteen seed Marshall pulled away from number 4 Wichita State with less than four minutes in the game, finally winning by just six points. The West was similarly predictable, having only one upset, Florida State (9 seed) over Missouri (8 seed), although Houston and Gonzaga fought close battles to best their opponents. In fact, Houston (who held a lead for most of the game) was marvellously outscored in the second half by San Diego State, even coming down to a tie with one minute to go. In the end, Houston pulled away in a final score of 67-65, rounding the West’s advancers out to Xavier, Florida, Ohio State, Gonzaga, Houston, Michigan, Texas A&M, and North Carolina.
It was the South, in fact, where upsets ran rampant. There, just half of the advancing teams had higher seeds than their opponents (including the University of Tennessee, who beat out Wright State). On the other hand, Kansas State finished ten points ahead of Creighton (in another 9-8 upset), 11 seed Loyola-Chicago (with the help of Sister Jean) upset Miami in a nile-biting back-and-forth game that ended with Loyola-Chicago’s Donte Ingram making a three-point jumper with just one second left in the game to secure a two point lead. In a less exciting fashion, 13 seed Buffalo upset Arizona by 21 points, marking the second 13 seed to advance.
The biggest upset though, of all sports anywhere, came out of a small school in Maryland. The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a 16 seed, was set to play the University of Virginia, who had the number one overall seed. Although a 16 seed had never bested a one seed, UMBC and UVA fought hard for the first half, going into halftime tied. About three and a half minutes into the second half, however, the tides changed. Joe Sherburne made a three-point basket to bring UMBC’s lead to 11, and the Virginia Cavaliers simply could not fight back. UMBC guards Jairus Lyles and K. J. Maura led their team to become the first ever 16-1 upset, and the nation was ballistic. Brackets everywhere were destroyed, and the game was forever changed.