March Madness update

The first two rounds of the NCAA tournament are complete, and four teams have already secured their spots in the Elite Eight, while four more games will be played tonight as the Sweet 16 continues. With multiple overtime games and upsets, the first half of the tournament certainly hasn’t disappoint.

The undefeated Wichita State Shockers were eliminated by the eighth seed Kentucky Wildcats in what seemed more like a Final Four matchup than a round of 32 game. WSU player Cleanthony Early fired a last second three pointer for the win, but it dinged off the rim, and the Shockers fell. Preseason number one Kentucky will meet in-state rival Louisville in what is sure to be a game worth watching, as two elite coaches and their squads battle it out in the Sweet 16. Also in the Midwest region, 14th seed Mercer upset third seed Duke. The loss marks the second time in the last three years Duke has been upset by a 14 or 15 seed in the first round.

Representing the Big 12, the Iowa State Cyclones and Baylor Bears took their spots in the Sweet 16. Baylor shot a stifling 63 percent from the field and beat Creighton and its Naismith Player of the Year candidate Doug McDermott by 30 points. However, Baylor lost in the Sweet 16, as  the second seed Wisconsin Badgers defeated Baylor to advance to the Elite Eight. Iowa State cruised to victory over North Carolina Central in their first game. They then got by the North Carolina Tar Heels in a game with a very bizarre ending. Iowa State guard DeAndre Kane banked in a shot with a few seconds left to give the Cyclones a two point lead. North Carolina then had the ball with 1.7 seconds left, and instead of heaving the ball from half court, they stopped and tried to call a timeout. The officials didn’t give the Tar Heels the timeout, the final horn sounded, and the game was over. Even with the weird ending, the Cyclones earned the hard fought win that kept them dancing–literally (see Fred Hoiberg’s post game locker room dance here:

In the South region, the highest seed left next to number one overall seed Florida is fourth seed UCLA. Eleventh seed Dayton defeated third seeded Syracuse, and 10th seed Stanford defeated Kansas. Both games came down to potential game winning or tying last second shots, and both Syracuse freshman Tyler Ennis and Kansas freshman Connor Frankamp missed their buzzer beater opportunities. Kansas, of course, missed Joel Embiid’s size and length in the paint. Stanford’s zone defense bothered Kansas all day, and they just couldn’t score against Stanford’s big men. Embiid certainly would have made an impact, and the game may have very likely had a different outcome if he had played.

From just a college basketball fan’s perspective, the 2014 NCAA tournament has been one for the ages. The first weekend’s games received more views than it had in 21 years. For a die hard fan of one specific team, this year’s tournament may have ended or may end in heartbreak. The emotion and excitement is undeniable, but ultimately, for 67 teams, the season ends in tears.

Only one team will cut down nets in April, and that’s what makes avoiding the upsets and winning it all that much sweeter.