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Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It: 2012 NCAA Tournament Opening Weekend Edition

March 19, 2012

It was a weekend befitting of the title “March Madness,” and here are the things that I liked, loved, and had to have about the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

Like It: The Big Ten showing why they were thought as the best conference this year

Now, I’m not a huge fan of the style of basketball that the Big Ten plays.  It’s slow, it’s super-physical, and it’s a bit boring if I’m being honest.  But make no mistake, this league has some very talented players and they now possess 25% of the teams in the Sweet 16.  The Big East may also have 4 teams in the Sweet 16, but that’s less impressive considering they had 8 in the tournament to start with and are a bigger conference anyway.  These Big Ten teams have some star power with Draymond Green, Jared Sullinger, Jordan Taylor and Cody Zeller representing Michigan St, Ohio St, Wisconsin and Indiana respectively.  They have some good coaches running these programs, and the way this tournament has gone so far, I may have made the right call putting two Big Ten teams in my Final Four, which leads me to the next portion of this post…..

Love It: My Final Four in my bracket is still intact

Filling out a bracket is something that gives the NCAA tournament a unique aspect, because most of the people that fill one out have no clue about 95% of the schools in the tournament (and those are the people that often end up winning).  It’s fun to do (especially when your school is still in the running), and it provides some friendly competition with friends and family.  My Final Four picks are all still possible, and since I am in striking distance of winning in every bracket pool I’m in, I’m pretty happy with how the first weekend turned out in that regard.  For the record, my Final Four is Kentucky, Michigan St, Ohio St, and UNC with UNC defeating Kentucky in the championship.  Of course, I made that pick prior to Kendall Marshall’s injury and uncertain status, but I’m still very hopeful that he will play and lead my bracket (and school) to victory.

Gotta Have It: The Upsets

This was the first tournament to ever feature two 15 seeds winning against 2 seeds.  To put that in perspective, since the tournament expanded in 1985 to the 64 team field, there had only been four times when a 15 seed beat a 2 seed.  It hadn’t happened since 2001.  Then it happened this year.  Twice.  On the same day.  Norfolk St. beat trendy Final Four pick Missouri 86-84 and Lehigh beat the team everyone loves to hate, the Duke Blue Devils, 75-70.  Neither made the Sweet 16 (a feat that no 15 seed has ever accomplished), but their legends will live on.  In all, there were nine double-digit seeds in the round of 32 in the tournament this year, and three of those teams (10 seed Xavier, 11 seed NC State, and 13 seed Ohio) advanced to the Sweet 16.  There is nothing in the world like this tournament, and the unadulterated joy of watching a Cinderella team upset one of the big boys is amazing to behold (that is, as long as you aren’t a fan of that particular big boy team).

Hope you liked this post, and I hope you like what else I have to say.


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