Sweet Sixteen!

Last week I wrote about the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  The first round was played on Thursday and Friday. The second round was played on Saturday and Sunday.  I thought there would be major upsets and plenty of stories to come from the tournament.  Trust me, it is not hard to predict upsets and story lines.  They happen every year.  I wanted to touch on the upsets and what teams are still left.  I also wanted to see if any good stories would appear.

Sixteen teams are left standing after the first 2 rounds.  The NCAA takes a couple of days off before the 3rd and 4th rounds commence.  After this weekend, we will have four teams left standing. You will always have a few surprises and this year is no different.  The East region has lost the top 2 teams in the region.  The West region has an 11 seed that advanced.  The Midwest has a 7 seed that advanced and the South region is “chalk”.  Chalk is a term that means the top seeds have all advanced, like they should have based on their seeds. Even though 3 of the regions have upsets, I do not think they are that major.  The upset in the West region is courtesy of the 11 seed Xavier.  Seems like a “Cinderella”, but they were ranked preseason #7 in the country so some people thought they would be good this year.  They have had some injuries and they seem to have figured out how to play without their injured players.  The 7 seed in the Midwest region is seen as an upset, but that team is Michigan.  They finished the regular season on a roll, were in a minor plane crash, and won the Big Ten tournament. They carried that momentum over to the tourney.  I do not think they are Cinderella because they are not a small school with no expectations.  The East region lost #1 Villanova and #2 Duke.  Villanova lost to a very accomplished Wisconsin team. Duke lost to South Carolina.  In my opinion that is the closest team to a Cinderella that the tourney has left, even though their seed does not say that.

A few of the stories that have emerged are entertaining.  Here is a great one from the Gonzaga team.  I love the nicknames they got, “Shrek and Donkey”.  It is a great read and can give you a glimpse of what “Donkey” has had to deal with 5,000 miles from home. I have already mentioned the plane crash that the Michigan Wolverines survived.  A major story to me is the remaining match-ups.  We will have games this weekend that include two major programs in Kentucky and UCLA.  Xavier and Arizona playing each other is putting the coaches against each other.  Chris Mack was an assistant for Miller at Xavier and when Miller left, Mack got the job.  That will be a tough game for those two.  How about this, UCLA will have to beat Kentucky and North Carolina just to get to the Final Four!  That is brutal.

Regardless of the team you cheer for, you will be able to find a game that is interesting in the next few days.  If you are not able to, you are not a fan of college basketball.  Also, you should watch or pay attention just so you can follow your bracket.  I know you filled one out!

–Victor Mandalawi