Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Yep, it's time to dive right into March Madness.
Yep, it's time to dive right into March Madness. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
At this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament the biggest surprise has been a lack of really big surprises.
After all, upsets are what make the spectacle so much fun — and office pools such sweet agony.
But as the Sweet 16 took shape this weekend, some underdogs began to bark a bit.
Sunday saw a No. 2 seed fall as No. 7 seed UNLV pounced on Wisconsin, 74-68. The Badgers were briefly the top-ranked team in some of the regular-season polls before injuries and two late losses to Ohio State showed their vulnerability. They are now the highest-rated team bounced from the tournament.
Saturday — as several games went into overtime — it took two extra sessions for No. 6 seed Vanderbilt to polish off No. 3 seed Washington State, setting up a future date with Georgetown in the Meadowlands.
And let's not forget Butler and Tennessee. The No. 5 seeds handled No. 4 seeds Maryland and Virginia, respectively, to earn the chance for much bigger targets: No. 1 seeds Florida and Ohio State.
Meanwhile, the Winthrop Eagles — who many felt might fly high in this tournament — were grounded by a no-less majestic bunch of birds Sunday. Winthrop, a No. 11 seed, lost 75-61 to the Fighting Ducks of Oregon, a No. 3 seed.
Three other Saturday games featured near-misses:
No. 9 seed Xavier coulda, shoulda and woulda beaten No. 1 seed Ohio State. But the Muskateers left a tiny little window open for the Buckeyes after holding an 11-point lead late in the second half. After sending the game into overtime with a 3-point shot, OSU overpowered its deflated Ohio rival in the extra period to win 79-71.
In other near-upsets, No. 11 seed Virginia Commonwealth roared back from 19 points down to take No. 3 seed Pitt into overtime before the favored Panthers advanced. And No. 6 seed Louisville came within a basket of knocking out No. 3 seed Texas A&M.
Even so, this tournament is as short on stunners and shockers as any in recent memory. Only five of the 32 first-round games defied the bracket-makers' expectations.
So on to Sunday, where the game carrying the most potential for bracket-busting features No. 11 seed Winthrop testing its mettle against No. 3 seed Oregon.
Now, take a last look at the Davids — and the Davidsons — who showed up, slingshots in hand, hoping to knock a Goliath or two upside the head: