There seemed to be a lack of upsets in the first round this year, with only three higher seeds advancing. It was kind of curious given the relative volatility of the top 25 rankings this year. Maybe the teams in the power conferences have finally realized that you can’t take any NCAA games for granted. Or, more likely, it’s just the law of averages. Stuff happens.
1, 2, brackets go boom
Which brings us to the second round. Let the upsets begin! First, Gonzaga, just a few years removed from being Cinderella themselves, got whomped by Pacific 91-72. That’s about the most surprising margin of victory in an upset that I can recall. So, do we start putting the Zags in that list of underachieving major programs?
Next up to be fitted for their toe tags was Stanford. They blew a 13 point lead in the second half to an Alabama team that was on the bubble until the last week of the season. Fittingly, Stanford had a chance for yet another amazing last second shot to tie. This time, it missed. There’s that law of averages again.
ACC not perfect
The ACC finally lost some games. After running their record to 8-0 behind a yawner for Duke and a tight win for Wake, the ACC lost both Maryland and UNC.
Technically, UNC’s loss wasn’t an upset, as they were the six seed to Texas’ three seed, but really, anytime UNC loses an NCAA game, it feels like an upset. Three down years hasn’t fully changed that yet.
Maryland lost to Syracuse, in a matchup of the previous two NCAA champions. Maryland tried to reuse their recent pattern of getting down and coming back, but they came up one bucket short. I’m sure it was a particularly gratifying win for some Syracuse friends of mine who are tired of my ACC bragging. Not only did their Orangemen advance, but they knocked out an ACC team to do it. The first ACC loss of the tourney, even.
All season, there were two story lines out of the Pac 10. First was Stanford’s amazing season. The other, often brought up in relation to the first, was about how unbelievably bad the conference was as a whole. Talk about your law of averages. How is it that so many teams hit low points in the same year? Six of the ten teams finished with losing overall records! Well, the story of the Pac 10 sucking turned out to be the one with more legs. Stanford’s run ended today and not one Pac 10 team made the Sweet Sixteen. Three bids – two losses in the first round and one in the second. Ouch.
Tournament performance by conference:
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