March Madness is in full swing. Catch up on the highlights so far
PIEN HUANG, HOST:
It's mid-March, and that means it's March Madness. Both the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments are in full swing. On the men's side, we've already seen some incredible surprise wins. And on the women's side, top-seeded teams are dominating. For the latest, we're now joined by NPR's Tom Goldman in Sacramento. Hello, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Pien.
HUANG: So, Tom, let's start with the men's tournament. There was a game today that caught a lot of people's attention. It was Furman against San Diego State. Tell us about that game.
GOLDMAN: Well, yeah. There was a lot of attention because of what Furman had done in the first round. It really pulled off the first big upset of the men's tournament, beat No. 4 seed Virginia. But sadly for Furman fans, Furman turned back into a pumpkin today against San Diego State. The Aztecs were just too good. They dominated. They won by 23 points, a great defensive team. And, you know, this is what often happens after those head-turning upsets in the first round. The underdog wins, but then moves on to play another good team. And a lot of times, the underdog isn't good enough to win more than that first big game. And that's why they came into the tournament as an underdog.
HUANG: If you could, just help us define what an upset is. And how does this year compare with other recent years in terms of upsets?
GOLDMAN: So there are 16 teams in each of the four regions of the tournament, and they're seeded by how good they are, No. 1 through No. 16. So I very subjectively consider a big first round upset as a win by a 13 seed down to a No. 16 seed. This year's first round, which was played Thursday and Friday, there were three big upsets, but they included the rarest kind, Fairleigh Dickinson's win yesterday over Purdue, a 16 over a 1. That was a second time that's happened in the men's tournament history ever. There was also a 15 over a 2, Princeton over Arizona, which means another bona fide title contender, Arizona, is out. So based on those dramatic results, I'm going to say this will be one of the more memorable tournaments' first rounds.
HUANG: So, Tom, you're in Sacramento for the first two rounds. So tell us about what you've seen. And what do you think is standing out to you?
GOLDMAN: Well, I did see that Princeton win over Arizona. And, you know, it's really interesting to be courtside. You can see the players' expressions, how their eyes look. And as Princeton pulled even and then ahead, I could see hesitancy and frustration and doubt in the Arizona players' eyes. You have to remember, some of these guys are huge grown men physically, but they are 18 to 22-year-olds, still very young, still susceptible to pressure. Now, as the game wound down, the Arizona players just looked and played like they were carrying a big burden with their No. 2 seed, the expectation that they'd win.
HUANG: OK. And then over to the women's tournament, how is that going so far? What kind of drama are we seeing?
GOLDMAN: Not a lot of upsets. And the bests are dominating. Generally, there aren't as many shockers in the women's tournament. There isn't the same depth as the men's game at this point. So you have some dominant teams, but not a lot of others that can challenge them. Hence we see overall No. 1 seed and defending champion South Carolina beating its first-round opponent yesterday, Norfolk State, by 32, or No. 2 Iowa beating Southeast Louisiana by 52. I think as the women's tournament goes on, we'll see more thrillers. But right now, South Carolina is the best. The other three No. 1 seeds - Virginia Tech, Stanford and Indiana - today all won their first-round games easily by an average of nearly 33 points.
HUANG: That's NPR's Tom Goldman in Sacramento. Tom, thank you so much for joining us.
GOLDMAN: You bet.
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