March Madness Under Way, And What a Start So Far
All hands on deck, March Madness is officially in full swing. After an opening round wrought with ten-seeded upsets, the cream started to rise to the top, but the action did not lack for drama.
Villanova took care of business to start the day, followed by Miami, Oklahoma, Syracuse, and Maryland. With half of the Sweet 16 matchups set, Northern Iowa seemed poised to punch their ticket. With a 12 point lead and just 44 seconds remaining, they staged one of the biggest collapses in tournament history. Fueled by 4 turnovers in the final 33 seconds, the Aggies of Texas A&M were able to come all the way back and tie the game with just under 2 seconds remaining in regulation.
This set up an unthinkable overtime period between the two. Credit is due to Northern Iowa for shaking off such an epic collapse and still performing in the overtime to lead the game with less than a minute remaining. Danuel House, however, had something to say about that with a step back three to tie the game with under 10 seconds remaining. A Hail-Mary three pointer from half court with 4 seconds remaining in a tie game by Northern Iowa was more than head scratching.
It seemed time and fatigue had more than taken its toll on the Panthers of Northern Iowa by the second overtime as they stopped hitting the jump shots they had been settling for the previous two periods. This game ended abruptly, considering how it had reached its ultimate conclusion, but will go down as one of the most unfathomable collapses in the history of the tournament. Give credit where it is due, the Aggies made their shots when they had to, but most poised teams would have never allowed such opportunities in such a small amount of time.
That wasn’t the only exciting finish. Xavier had a three point lead with less than a minute to go against the Badgers of Wisconsin. Bronson Koenig hit a game tying three pointer setting up Xavier’s shot at the game winner with less than 12 seconds remaining. Xavier got called for an offensive foul with 4.3 seconds remaining and Wisconsin in-bounded it and advanced to half-court for a timeout with 2 seconds remaining. With few options, they threw it in to Koenig again who dribbled once and made a nice move to bounce to the corner and toss up a game winning three at the buzzer that was nothing but net! A play like that deserves nothing but praise, as it’s the shot the defense wants to force him into. So, if he makes it, there’s simply nothing you can do about it.
After the crazy finishes, the day ended with Oregon against St. Joe’s. It seemed as though this game was heading toward a familiar ending, but Oregon gained control late and was able to shut down the Hawks and secure a date with the Duke Blue Devils in the Sweet 16. This tournament has been crazy to say the least and it doesn’t look like that’s going to stop anytime soon. Especially since the ACC has set a record for more Sweet 16 teams from one conference in the tournament. There are several marquee match-ups and I, for one, cannot wait until Thursday when the March Madness continues.