Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sports: College Basketball (First & Second Round)

The path to the sweet sixteen is fraught with upsets, buzzer beaters, and predictable blowouts. All my brackets are already trashed as I expected especially this year where the top teams are so prone to sudden losses making upsets even more likely. Teams I thought were going to make it far have already been eliminated and teams I had never heard of are heading into the next round. The first four days of nearly non-stop basketball have been fun to watch as they lead to one team cutting down the nets.

The top right corner of the bracket was a little easier to predict while some things did catch me by surprise. Villanova took out the First Four winner Radford and followed that up with 9-see Alabama who got past Virginia Tech before elimination. The battle between two West Virginia teams was lopsided as West Virginia took out Murray St and Marshall upset against Wichita State. West Virginia didn't have much of a challenge from their in-state opponent Marshall.  Florida ended the run of another First Four team, St. Bonaventure but after Texas Tech beat Steph F. Austin, they took down the Gators too. Florida couldn't make the last two three-point attempts to save their season. I had Butler upsetting Arkansas and Purdue beating CSU Fullerton. Purdue should go far in this bracket after winning against Butler but Texas Tech won't go easily. 1-seed Villanova remains the top seed but they'll have to beat West Virginia and either Texas Tech or Purdue to make it to the final four.
The craziest side of the bracket made history this year when 1-seed Virginia lost to UMBC for a historic upset. I had a hard time believing that this had never happened before when I first heard this decades ago but of course, it's the year I picked Virginia, a top seed, to go all the way. Still, I'm rooting for the Kentucky Wildcats and the path has cleared for them after a win over Davidson. Kentucky's first challenge was supposed to be a 4-seed Arizona but a shocking upset from Buffalo put another double-digit seeded opponent in the Wildcats way to fall. Kansas State upset Creighton to take on UMBC, the furthest traveling 16-seed and win. The bottom part of the bracket had Loyola-Chicago magic as they took out Miami and then Tennessee who survived the first round against Wright State only to exit early. Cincinnati looked like they were traveling a normal 2-seed path but after they beat Georgia State they had a game nearly locked against Nevada. The Wolf Pack beat Texas and were nearly out against Cincinnati but a great comeback puts them into the Sweet Sixteen versus Loyola. 

Another crazy bracket saw Xavier take out their 16-seed opponent Texas Southern, a First Four survivor, and Florida State upsetting Missouri. This could have continued to make sense until the Seminoles upset the top seed in a great game. Below that Gonzaga moved through a 13-seed UNCG and 5-seed OSU to come out as a favored team. The bottom of the bracket saw Texas A&M power through Providence and the reigning champion UNC Tar Heels while Michigan topped Montana and Houston. The Big Ten Tournament Champions are the highest seed left in this region.
Finally, the exception to the rule in a chaotic tournament, this region came through a hundred percent for me in the first round but surprises like Syracuse over Michigan State and Clemson blowing out Auburn let me know the excitement is not done. Kansas and Duke could still be the top two seed surviving the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight but I'm still wary of upsets. 

I look forward to all of these games plus I'm celebrating because this is my thousandth post on this blog that I have done purely for amusement. I have a long way to go to improve my writing especially about sports as I do a very surface level analysis from very limited knowledge but I like to think this is working towards something just like these teams are working through these tough brackets. 

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