March Madness brackets doomed
By Courtnie Martin, Sports Reporter
The 2014 NCAA March Madness basketball tournament usually has a few surprises, but it’s really exceeded those expectations this year. Many brackets have now been obliterated with the unexpected wins of four teams seeded 12 or lower. On March 22, ExtraMustard.si.com reported that so far only one person had created a perfect bracket. Just following the Duke upset where Mercer embarrassed the third-seeded team, only 3.3 per cent of the more than 11 million brackets submitted to ESPN were still in the running for a decent bracket—the majority had picked Duke to go to the championship game.
More unforeseen wins occurred in a pair of 12-5 match-ups when North Dakota State snatched victory from Oklahoma, and Harvard snuck away with a “W” against Cincinnati. Arizona State had the chance to upset Texas, only to choke in the final seconds of the game, allowing the seventh seed to claim the victory. Needless to say, after the action of many games, social media swarmed with angry and disappointed fans talking about how brutal their brackets were after their projected solid picks were eliminated early.
So where did all this underdog spirit come from? Many talk-show hosts have been guessing that most of the higher seeded teams simply developed a case of the pre-game jitters. After all, March Madness is one of the world’s most popular competitions, and millions of fans dedicate the entire weekend to watching and betting on the games. Maybe the players were nervous, and the coaches were unsure what to expect of their elite, but very much human, athletes.
On the brighter side to the madness, teams like North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan State, Wichita State, Syracuse, Kansas, Villanova, Arizona, and Louisville all did what teams seeded in the top four are predicted to do: win. In a play that will surely make highlights for years to come, J.P. Tokoto set up an amazing fast break in the NC game. Tokoto set his defender up to the sideline, spun viciously toward the centre court, and finished with a beautiful two-handed dunk.
In the west, Gonzaga barely survived Oklahoma State in a game that was more officiating and less basketball-playing. The game totalled 61 fouls (seven shy of the record for fouls set by Iowa and Morehead State). Both teams spent the final four minutes walking back and forth to the opposite end of the floor to shoot free throws—Oklahoma missed a total of 15 free throws in the game. The game was seemingly never going to end until the Bulldogs secured the last two free throws by Canadian native, Kevin Pangos (who sunk a total of 12 out of 14 free throws, and scored 26 points).
With the exception of the doomed billion-dollar race in the brackets, the tourney is a thrilling success as usual. The underdogs came out to play and left it on the floor. No one is guaranteed a win. Why wouldn’t they call this March Madness?