During the past two weeks, numerous upsets and heartbreaking losses have busted people’s NCAA March Madness brackets. With just four teams remaining, a team that some critics believed should not have even made the tournament now has a chance to win the national title. Once again, all of the 13 million ESPN Tournament Challenge brackets failed to correctly guess the tournament.
There are three different types of March Madness bracket participants. First, there are the fans who pick with heart, selecting teams based on interest and fanship. Then there are the fans who just participate for fun and select randomly. And of course, there are the idiots like me that use statistics and analytics just to have Middle Tennessee State University bust the bracket in the first round.
Despite the several formulas people use, only 0.4 percent of the 13 million brackets had Syracuse University advancing to the Final Four. Speaking on the Orange’s miraculous run, University of Pittsburgh fanatic and first-year student Nathan Smith said, “You know the madness is real when Pitt can beat Syracuse three times in one season, but then lose in the first round of the tournament while the Orange advance to the Final Four.”
Pitt was involved in one of the most exciting games of a first round that left all brackets shattered. The most notable game of the first round, however, came from the hands of Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. With only one percent of brackets choosing the Blue Raiders to advance over Michigan State University, Middle Tennessee pulled off one of the most unlikely upsets in NCAA history, showing the unpredictability in the single elimination tournament. In addition, almost 40 percent of brackets had chosen Michigan State to advance to the national title.
The second round came with a new set of surprises. Texas A&M University accomplished one of the most absurd comebacks in basketball history. A week after pulling off an unlikely upset against University of Texas with a half court buzzer beater, University of Northern Iowa blew a 12-point lead in the last 44 seconds. Texas A&M capped off a 14-2 run with a game tying basket to send the game to overtime, where they eventually won.
Iowa Native and second-year student Jeff Wang said, “It was disappointing to see none of the three Iowa teams make it past the Sweet 16. However it has been great seeing the Hawkeyes and Panthers improve so quickly and gain recognition in the tournament.”
Despite the elimination of all three teams, the displays put on in the first round gained notice of basketball fans with two buzzer beating game winners and a 94-point offensive clinic.
Late in the tournament, it has been the Syracuse Orange surprising basketball analysts and fans. After a late comeback against Gonzaga to advance to the Elite Eight, many analysts and fans wrote the Orange off against one seed University of Virginia. Early on, their likely demise seemed to be true as they trailed by 15 at half and had no offensive flow. However, after applying defensive pressure while behind 39-54, Syracuse went on a 25-4 run to take a six-point lead which would stand.
With all the surprises that have happened already, the Final Four can still bring more. The tournament continues Saturday, April 2 as Villanova battles Oklahoma and University of North Carolina hopes to stop 10 seed Syracuse’s run.