Upsets… Buzzer Beaters… and more Upsets… this March has been wild.
The NCAA tournament has been full of several upsets, and unpredictable games. ZERO perfect brackets remained after the round of 64 games. You could try to pick these games anyway you wanted. Head. Heart. Chalk. Coin flip. Team colors. It didn’t matter. The first weekend was brutal. Down went Arizona. Down went Virginia. Down went Michigan State. Down went North Carolina. Down went Xavier. Down went Cincinnati.
This trend continued in the sweet 16.
Kansas State, Loyola-Chicago, Michigan and Florida St. all advanced and are the only ones remaining on the left side of the bracket. Loyola-Chicago paved their way to the Elite 8 by beating their first three opponents by a combined four points. They have hit clutch shots when the clock was winding down in each of these games. Donte Ingram hit a 28-foot heave at the buzzer to knock off Miami, Clayton Custer hit a fade away mid-range elbow shot to beat Tennessee, and Marques Townes hitting a deep three as time winded down to put away Nevada. On the other side, Kansas State has beaten Creighton, UMBC and Kentucky to clinch their spot in the elite eight. Kansas State has done all this with their leading scorer Dean Wade nagging a stress fracture in his foot that occurred during the Big 12 quarterfinals. Michigan cruised to a blowout victory over Texas A&M, which displayed their offensive firepower. Michigan hit 14 threes and was clicking offensively. If they put on a similar display, Florida State will have their hands full. Florida State, the most surprising of the four to me, beat 8 seed Missouri, 1 seed Xavier, and 4 seed Gonzaga. Florida State’s aggressive defense and relentless interior play has placed them in the elite eight vs. Michigan. I see Loyola-Chicago and Kansas State in a low scoring, grind it out type of game but ultimately, I like Loyola-Chicago’s big play making ability and aggressiveness and see them winning this game. However, my pick to advance to the Championship game from this side is Michigan. Michigan clearly has the most talent of the four teams, an experienced coach, and a good bench depth. But I would not be upset if Loyola-Chicago was able to upset Michigan. If Michigan is not hitting their shots they become very one dimensional and have no go to scorer or playmaker. I like Porter Moser’s systematical slow it down offense and think it could give Michigan problems but I just see the Wolverines edging out the Ramblers. Many of these upsets can be attributed to the inconsistent play of stronger or higher ranked teams throughout the season, but in many cases, the underdog played either a prolific game or the higher ranked team did not shoot well. Overall, this tournament has been one of the most interesting and unpredictable tournaments and has shown no signs of stopping.