U May Be Cinderella
By John Ventola
March Madness turned into full blown insanity Friday night. For the first time a No. 16 tournament seed beat a No. 1 as UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) embarrassed this year’s top seed Virginia, 74-54.
Virginia, which won the formidable Atlantic Coast Conference by four games and captured the
ACC tournament, entered the game 31-2 and was a 20.5-point favorite over the light regarded Retrievers, 24-10 on the season. The outcome had basketball analysts throughout the country calling it probably the biggest college basketball upset in history
The Cavaliers, who held thirteen opponents this year under 53 points, gave up that many to hot-shooting UMBC in the second half. The Retrievers had the usually proficient Cavs back on their heels and connected on 12 of 24 three pointers in the game. Virginia, meanwhile, shot a horrific 2 of 22 from beyond the arc.
The game marked the 136th game between No.1 and No. 16 seeds. The first 135 went to the higher seed, with two games won by one point, and another going to overtime before No. 1 took over.
While the UMBC group secured their place in NCAA tournament history, there were two other South Region upsets in the first two days of action. Loyola of Chicago (No. 11) hit a last second three-pointer to send Miami (No. 6) packing, and Buffalo (No. 13) embarrassed Arizona (No. 4) 89-68. Embattled Wildcat coach Sean Miller, under investigation for alleged payments in recruiting star freshman center Deandre Ayton, probably coached his last game. Ayton, to show his loyalty, announced immediately after the game that he was going pro. (My thoughts on the one-and-done approach to recruiting will be covered in a subsequent blog).
In the East Region, No. 13 Marshall upset No. 4 Wichita State, setting up Sunday’s game against bitter in-state rival West Virginia (No. 5). Mountaineer Coach Bob Huggins discontinued a
decades long series with the Thundering Herd in 2015, and despite pleas from West Virginia politicians, says he will only play Marshall on his home court in Morgantown. His reasoning—WVU has nothing to gain by going to Huntington and playing Marshall, a basketball program that has been down in recent years. This one could be interesting! Cue the banjos, The Hatfields and McCoys are a brewin!
It was interesting to note that the four No. 4 versus No. 13 games either resulted in upsets (by Buffalo and Marshall) or close, competitive games, Gonzaga over North Carolina-Greensboro and Auburn defeating Charleston, both won by four points.
The Southeastern Conference posted a 6-2 record in opening games, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas A & M, Alabama, Florida, and Auburn winning, while Arkansas and Missouri bowed out.
Syracuse became the first “play-in” team to ever win two games by defeating Arizona State in the play in No. 11 matchup in the Midwest, and then handling No 6 TCU. Coach Jim Boeheim of the Orangemen keeps rolling along. The other No. 11 play in had St. Bonaventure upsetting UCLA before losing to Florida in the East.
Karma is a bitch. Arizona Coach Sean Miller, and an underserving Oklahoma Sooners basketball team got it full barrel in the opening rounds. Miller and his freshman Ayton took it on the chin, while Oklahoma and its high scoring guard Trae Young—-put into the tournament over more deserving teams that had easily defeated the Sooners—were beaten in overtime by Rhode
Island. (NCAA had me thinking, if a 18-13 Oklahoma was selected strictly because of a high-scoring guard, then LSU at 20-8 in 1970 should have been in with Pete Maravich. Of course, it was not a 68-team field at that time, and theNIT was big-time then—-Tigers went 2-2, Pete the Pointmaker showed off in Madison Square Garden).
Well, follow the bouncing ball. The first two days have been great, and I would expect another upset or two. Remember longshots Gonzaga, Oregon, and South Carolina joined eventual champion North Carolina at the 2017 Final Four.
Still like Villanova, probably the best all-around team, or Kansas (although it probably has the toughest path with Duke and Michigan State standing in its way), They would play in the national semi-finals if all goes the way I see it. However, my crystal ball gave me no hint of UMBC over Virginia, either.
If the first two days are any indication, the next couple of weekends should provide some exciting collegiate moments before the 2018 title is decided in San Antonio on April 2nd.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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