March Madness Week 1 Roundup

By Nate Barcus

UMBC walks off the court after taking down the number one overall seed. Photo by

UMBC walks off the court after taking down the number one overall seed. Photo by

Basketball fans, take a breath and relax. You made it through the first weekend of March Madness still in one piece, even though, at times, it might not have seemed like you would. The events that took place across the country and throughout the basketball world this weekend can really only be described with one word: madness.

The first place to begin has to be the top of the South bracket. Heading into the tournament, number one overall seed Virginia was prime for a deep run into the late stages of the tournament. In essentially every bracket made across the country, no one even hesitated taking the Cavaliers over the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers. There’s no possible way they could lose right? How could the number one overall seed possibly lose to the presumably worst team in the tournament? But as the old saying goes: that’s why they play the game. The retrievers played a perfect game, not just getting by, but utterly dominating Virginia, winning by twenty points. It was truly historic, as it was the first time a 16 seed ever beat a one seed in the history of this famed tournament. The retrievers shocked the world, and for them, that win, was as good as winning a championship. Their run was short-lived however, as later in the weekend they lost to Kansas state.

Also in the southern region, was a shocking loss by the University of Arizona. The wildcats, lead by potential #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton, had the star power to compete at the highest level, and were looking to turn some heads in a tournament run. But in game number one against the University of Buffalo, Arizona got absolutely dogged. In every aspect of the game, they just did not show up to play. They took a win for granted, which is cardinal sin #1 in this tournament. No game will be easy.

In the Western Region, everything people thought they knew went out the window. Number one seed Xavier lost in the second round to the Florida States Seminoles, as the Musketeers dreams of glory crumbled in front of them, not even making it through the first weekend. They were the best team in their region, with a path to at least the final four, and they blew it. You never want to be a one seed seeing an exit in the first two games, but now both one seeds we have discussed have been shown the door.

The University of North Carolina is one of those gold standard programs. Every year you expect to see them late in the tournament. This year was not supposed to be any different. As a two seed in the west, the first real test seemed to be a sweet sixteen matchup against Big Ten champion Michigan. But UNC didn’t even make it that far, losing by 21 to Texas A&M in the second round. The Aggies absolutely dominated the Tar Heels, and deservedly moved on to play Michigan in the sweet sixteen. Michigan is now the clear favorite in this region, as they are the highest remaining seed, and have been playing excellent basketball the last few weeks. Hills Junior, and Michigan fan, Josh Cohen raved about the Wolverines and their hopes to make a run at glory: “Michigan has always been my favorite team, and they are playing incredibly. They can shoot the lights out, and have elite defense. Their size and athleticism make them true contenders.” Cohen shares the opinion of many fans, as Michigan are peaking at the right time.

Moving over to the East Region, things are playing out a little more to the norm, with the one, two, and three seeds all making it through the weekend, and five seed West Virginia filling out the final spot. One Seed Villanova won their two games by 26 and 23 points, and look the part of a one seed. Two seed Purdue suffered a huge loss, as center Isaac Haas got injured, and even if he returns later, he won’t be 100%. Villanova is the clear cut favorite, not just to win their region, but to potentially win the tournament.

Finally, we come to the Midwest region. Where like the east, there were not many surprises. Both of the top two teams won their games. As one seed Kansas and two seed Duke both made it to the sweet sixteen. But three seed Michigan State went down against 11 seed Syracuse, knocking a favorite out of contention. Clemson is the final team in that region, and have a date with Kansas this weekend. Kansas and Duke look ready for an elite eight matchup, with a shot to a trip to a final four on the line.

All in all, the NCAA tournament has been an exciting one. With so many twists and turns, just the first week has brought enough excitement to last a whole tournament. Stay tuned for next week’s recap, and Final Four predictions.