“Welcome back to the best time of the year. Put your pens away, take your brackets out and let the games begin.”
Welcome to March Madness, the happiest time of the year! Coming from an area where college basketball is at least on par with college football in terms of devotion and attention, I’ve experienced quite the culture shock at BU — wait, it’s actually possible to get tickets to a basketball game? You mean, everyone wants to experience twenty-degree temperatures instead and watch hockey? Snarky jabs aside, it’s been difficult to find someone with whom to commiserate whenever my teams (Stanford, and Arizona – I’m from California, I’m obliged to love the Pac-10) slowly faded into obscurity with each new loss. Which is why March is my favorite month of the year; the NCAA tournament is the great equalizer, the party that everyone can be excited about — and much like aforementioned parties, if you don’t know anyone playing, it don’t matter.
Today marked the first day of March Madness, and as always, it didn’t fail to disappoint. The first and second rounds are especially known for their propensity for upsets, and today’s games lived up to all expectations. The prize for the biggest upset of the day may possibly belong to Ohio, who was seeded fourteenth in the Midwest and faced a tough first-round competitor in third-seed Georgetown. The Bobcats, who were the MAC tournament champions but hadn’t won an NCAA tournament game in 27 years, handed the Hoyas a first-round out with a score of 97-83. Georgetown had been seen by many as a possible contender for a Final Four run, and it’s true that after the game ended, I was catapulted to the top of my pools. (When filling out my bracket last night on Facebook’s Citizen Sports application, the percentage of people who had chosen Ohio to win the game was ~4%.)
As per tradition, there were plenty of other upsets during the day’s sixteen games — the Pac-10 showed some grit with eleventh-seed Washington beating sixth-seeded Marquette and extending its late NCAA run to the second round for the second year in a row (originally, Cal was the only team expected to play in the big dance from the Pac-10 conference). In another 6-11 pairing, Old Dominion handed Notre Dame a 51-50 loss, with the latter team shooting only 36% from the field. Thirteenth-seed Murray State also narrowly slipped by fan favorite and fourth-seeded Vanderbilt by 1, and tenth-seeded St. Mary’s beat seventh-seeded Richmond to extend their postseason a bit longer. It wasn’t all just upsets, though — heavily favored teams such as Kansas, Kentucky, and Kansas State sailed by their opponents in the first round.
For a complete listing of today’s results, click here.
Here’s a listing of tomorrow’s games — you can watch them on espn.com if you don’t have access to a TV. All game times are listed as EST:
12:15pm – (15) Morgan State vs. (2) West Virginia
12:25pm – (11) Minnesota vs. (6) Xavier
12:30pm – (12) Cornell vs. (5) Temple
2:30pm – (13) Siena vs. (4) Purdue
2:35pm – (10) Missouri vs. (7) Clemson
2:45pm – (14) Oakland vs. (3) Pittsburgh
2:50pm – (13) Wofford vs. (4) Wisconsin
4:45pm – (12) Utah State vs. (5) Texas A&M
7:10pm – (9) Florida State vs. (8) Gonzaga
7:15pm – (10) Georgia Tech vs. (7) Oklahoma State
7:20pm – (12) New Mexico State vs. (5) Michigan State
7:25pm – (16) Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. (1) Duke
9:30pm – (16) Vermont vs. (1) Syracuse
9:35pm – (15) UC Santa Barbara vs. (2) Ohio State
9:40pm – (13) Houston vs. (4) Michigan
9:45pm – (9) Louisville vs. (8) California