Mayhem and madness cover MarchBy ANDY RUSSELL
Well it’s March, and we all know what that means: March Madness. Throughout the past week there has been madness, mayhem and calamity as the 64-team tournament kicked off. This has been one of the craziest tournaments to date. Just look at the numbers: overall number one seed Kansas went down to a team from the Missouri Valley Conference (that’s the sound of brackets being ripped all across the country).
The Pacific-10 Conference, a conference that should have gotten only a single team in, now has a team in the Sweet 16 and the other team California, gave Duke a run in the second round. Another conference, the West Coast Conference, put Gonzaga and the Gaels of St. Mary’s in the tournament. Gonzaga got embarrassed by Syracuse in the second round, but the Gaels took out Villanova to get to the Sweet 16.
Moving towards the East Coast, the first mention has to be the Bobcats of Ohio University taking out Georgetown in the first round. This was a premier team for the Big East and a team that came on strong in the Big East Tournament. Cornell has also made a strong statement in the tournament by being the first team from the Ivy League to make the Sweet 16 in thirty years. However they play UK next, so it’s going to be tough for them to get to the Elite Eight.
The story of the tournament has to be the Northern Iowa Panthers making the Sweet 16 after knockingoff Kansas. Every expert had Kansas in their Final Four and if they tell you any different, they are lying. This was a huge upset that brings back bad memories of 2004 for most UK fans. There is no doubt that this has been a wild and crazy tournament. The best part is that there is more to come. The games resume tonight on CBS. Let’s look at the tournament by the numbers:
10 The number of games in which a lower seeded team beat a higher seeded team in the first round (Northern Iowa, Ohio, Georgia Tech, Murray State, Wake Forest, Cornell, Washington, Missouri, Old Dominion, St. Marys). This is truly a year for upsets.
0.35 The amount of time left on the clock when Ali Farokhmanesh made a three-point jumper to seal the deal against Kansas. Ali played the role of giant killer against the top team in the land.
8 The number of teams the Big East got into the NCAA Tournament. They were headlined by one seed Syracuse, two number two seeds, Villanova and West Virginia and three seed Georgetown.
2 The number of teams the Big East has left: Syracuse and West Virginia. Georgetown lost to 14 seed Ohio in the first round, Pittsburgh lost to six seed Xavier in the second round, Marquette lost to 11 seed Washington in the first round, Notre Dame lost to 11 seed Old Dominion in the first round, Louisville was taken down by California in the first round and Villanova lost to the 10 seeded Gaels of St. Marys in the second round. The Big East was a big flop.
7 The number of National Titles that the University of Kentucky has. Can they get past the Big Red of Cornell? A likely showdown is coming with the Duke Blue Devils as well. Does anyone remember Christian Laettner?
2004 The last time a one seed lost in the second round of the tournament. This feat was accomplished by the UAB Trailblazers when they beat UK, 76-75.
1 The number of times all number one seeds have made the Final Four (2008 with North Carolina, Memphis, UCLA, Kansas) and Memphis had to vacate this win because of violations. This feat won’t happen this year either.
37 This is how many points BYU guard Jimmer Fredette dropped in the opening round game of the tournament on Thursday against Florida. He helped BYU to the second round for the first time in 17 years.
In case you missed it…By ANDY RUSSELL
One of the greatest things about March Madness is bracketology. This is the time of the year when the college basketball experts earn their money because they have to put all of their personal opinions out there for others to feast on. Out of the 4.38 million brackets entered on ESPN.com’s bracket challenge there were zero that got all of the Sweet 16 teams right. However, there were four that correctly called the Northern Iowa over Kansas game. People love to fill out their brackets and compete against friends, coworkers and others to see who can get the luckiest. There are so many astounding stats out there that I’m sure no one has a correct bracket. This is the first time since the field expanded to 64 that there are three teams still in from one-bid conferences. Four out of the last five teams to eliminate Villanova in the tournament have gone on to win the NCAA Title. Is this a trend that the Gaels are going to follow? Cornell, a team from the Ivy League where basketball is second to academics is shooting the highest percentage of any team left at 58.8 percent. Who said physics and aerodynamics can’t apply to basketball? Here is a bracket in case your bracket was lost, never existed or was torn up after Kansas lost.