Bracket Busters (So Far)
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It happens every year. You put your undying faith in a team, whether it be an entitled number one seed, an alma modern, a family favorite, or an underdog sleeper team. You pledge to your friends that this year is going to be your year. Win the pool or even win it all, with 100% correctness. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, in the end, it doesn’t matter the seed number, the mascot, or the statistics; there is a reason March Madness is called March “Madness”. The upsets are crazy, unexpected, and aggravating.
This year, especially this weekend, we’ve seen some epic upsets that left us all gasping. In less than a week, the hopes and dreams of many March Madness participants were shattered. I can relate, all of my brackets are either dead or on life-support. I could pull the plug and stop watching, but that’s no fun in the end. Besides, I’m not alone, only 18 people (out of roughly 18 million brackets) correctly predicted the Sweet 16. So I ranked the top teams that completely ruined your (and my) bracket this year.
- DUKE. How could you, Blue Devils? After being ranked second seed, I would’ve expected some of that rage to pay off in the second round and eventually in the finals. Unfortunately, you fell to the South Carolina Gamecocks, a no. 7 seed. 12% of game brackets had you going all the way. *sigh*.
- Villanova. More like, Villa “No” Va. After being the champion in 2016, most were expecting a steady run. Several pros were convinced you might even be a back to back title winner. Much to my dismay, you fell to the Wisconsin Badgers, a no. 8 seed. 13% of brackets had you being a repeat champ.
- Louisville. Louisville, Louisville, you fell short. Many of us were counting on you to destroy the Kansas Jayhawks, but without a trip to the Sweet 16, that dream will have to wait. Michigan Wolverines, though survivors of a plane accident, were not expected to survive your team. Still, they pulled through. For those who called Michigan as a major upsetter, it was something out of a dream. Others… could disagree.
- SMU. SMU was called as a sleeper team from the beginning. Coming in off a winning streak, many expected the ponies to make their way through rounds before conquering the East (Duke/Villanova included) or falling to Duke’s demise. Unfortunately, SMU fell short first round to the USC Trojans. The expected upset was incredibly upsetting…
- Florida-State. Ugh, Xavier! In the first round, Xavier (no. 11) pulled past Maryland (no. 6) and provided points to all those who predicted such an upset. But barely any believed Xavier would get farther than that… Nevertheless, they did. In Orlando, the Musketeers powered over FSU for a satisfying slot in the Sweet 16. Florida State, unfortunately, left too early and empty handed.
- UVA. UVA is not a bad team, and brackets don’t seem to disagree. I know several people who had UVA as the team to trample over no. 1 Villanova or no. 2 Duke while claiming a spot in the Final Four. But the Cavaliers never got the chance. They were slaughtered by no. 4 Florida Gators, along with plenty of brackets.
- Wichita State. Wichita State, a no. 10 seed, was expected to bypass Kentucky despite their being a powerful no. 2 seed. Many had faith in the upset, believing the Stingers could make it all the way if they truly wanted it. But Wichita State lost its grip on the second round game and ended up a few points short from a spot in the Sweet 16.
There’s still plenty of games left to be played and plenty of teams thirsty for a spot in the Final Four. But which high-class team will be the next to kick the bucket? Kentucky and UNC barely survived the second round, will they fall short in the Sweet 16? Or will it be more unexpected, could we see the powerful Kansas Jayhawks fall or the mighty UCLA Bruins? Maybe the upsets are over with, and teams like Xavier and South Carolina will be routed from a lock in the Elite Eight? We won’t know until the games start back up on Thursday. But if March Madness has taught me one thing, I know it’s to expect in the unexpected.