Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
They call the NCAA basketball tournament “March Madness” for a reason and without a doubt this year’s first weekend of the single-elimination tournament provided us with more “madness” than since the beginning of the quest to find basketball’s best began in 1939.
Those of you, myself included, that spend hours in front of the television, looking for the ultimate upset, were treated to not one, or two, but several upsets over the course of the first four days of the tournament.
By far, however, the biggest was University of Maryland in Baltimore County, better known as UMBC, not only beat, but trounced the tournament’s top overall seed Virginia. UMBC came in to the tournament as a 16-seed, dead last in the field of 66. They were a school that I and most others had no familiarity with, yet they did what no other 16-seed had done- beat a one seed. It has gone down in history as the biggest single upset in any sport, ever.
But there were other amazing upsets as well and as the field was narrowed to sixteen remaining teams by the end of Sunday night, many of the favorites were sitting in the sideline. One of those, Xavier, another #1 seed, was beaten by unheralded Florida State, leaving only two #1 seeds left in the field of sixteen.
The topsy-turvy tournament also saw an 11th seed, Loyola of Chicago advance, stunning Tennessee on a last second shot. What was so cool about their win, is that the team dedicated the game to their #1 fan, Sister Jean, 98-years-old, who sat courtside cheering like a 16-year-old.
Then there was Michigan, who was suppose to advance but needed a buzzer beater 35-foot shot from freshman Jordan Poole, to pull off a victory over tenacious Houston. It was the most dramatic win by any team to date in the tournament, and propelled Michigan in to the next round where they face upset minded Texas A & M who took out last year’s tournament winner, North Carolina.
And we wonder why Warren Buffett offers $1,000,000 each year to anyone who picks the winners of every tournament game? Because it has never been done, and this year’s version of March Madness will be no different. Heck I picked Arizona to win it all on my bracket, and of course, they were trounced in the first round by little known Buffalo. I can’t imagine a single person picking UMBC over Virginia.
Two #1 seeds are still alive. Villanova looked amazing, dispatching their opponents with ease, and Kansas, who struggled mightily against an inferior Seton Hall. The beauty of March Madness, however, is one week a team can look like a world-beater, and next week, well, they struggle mightily.
If you are a sports nut, and I admittedly am, this time of year is heavenly. I’ve got my potato chips on my lap, and my soft drink in my hand, with my feet propped up, and my big screen switching from game to game. For me it is the perfect set-up. Now if I could only get my wife to agree. But as most of us know that is never going to happen.