March 17, 2012

March Madness Indeed

By - Kris Fletcher

It's safe to say that the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament got off to a start the likes of which no one could have imagined.

Few could have possibly predicted that Norfolk State, a historically black college from the MEAC, making its first tournament appearance in school history, would rise up and knock off the 30-win Missouri Tigers.

And as the Spartans sealed the first win by a #15 seed over a #2 seed in 11 years, 1,159 miles away in North Carolina, another #15 seed repeated the feat.

That #15 was Lehigh. The #2, Duke.

Photo by: Getty Images
Yes. That Duke.

As shocking as Norfolk State's win was, it wasn't unfathomable. After all, we'd seen 15-seeds win before (four times before, to be exact). However, the Mountain Hawks win over the Blue Devils pushed this tournament to a previously unseen level. For the first time in history, not one, but two #15 seeds advanced.

But that was Friday. Let's go back to Thursday for a second.

The action that day gave little indication as to what we were in for. In fact, Thursday was so pedestrian, that UConn's loss to Iowa State - the first time a defending champion had lost its first game of the tournament since 1996 - was greeted with little more than a shrug by most.

Then Friday rolled around.

The day began with #6 Cincinnati taking on #11 Texas, with the Bearcats holding off a furious second-half run from the Longhorns just long enough to preserve a 65-59 win. #11 NC State beat #6 San Diego State. #8 Creighton went to the wire with #9 Alabama before pulling out a 58-57 win. #14 St. Bonaventure gave #3 Florida State all it could handle before huge plays from Bernard James and Okaro White sealed a 66-63 victory for the Seminoles.

Deep breath...

#9 Saint Louis took down #8 Memphis. #10 Purdue blew a 13-point lead to #7 Saint Mary's before recovering late and winning the game on two free throws from senior forward Robbie Hummel. #12 South Florida upended #5 Temple, 58-44. #10 Xavier got a 67-63 win over #7 Notre Dame.

Oh, and by the way, #13 Ohio upset #4 Michigan. It was semi-easy to forget about that one. Easy to lose sight of another massive-magnitude win by a MAC team over one of the Big Ten's regular-season co-champions, considering the other events that transpired during the day, but the Bobcats not only beat the Wolverines, they handled them from beginning to end.

Photo by: Getty Images
On Thursday, we all pleaded for March Madness to really kick in. Then on Friday, as Ohio won, marking the first time in NCAA tournament history that three teams seeded 13th or lower won on the same day, we all came to the realization that we had just witnessed the most unprecedented six hours of hoops in college basketball history.

And still, for everything that happened, this tournament will forever be remembered for Lehigh and Norfolk State. Two #2 seeds dropped. Two #15 seeds advancing. Two massive athletics programs taken down by tiny schools from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Norfolk, Virginia. It's the kind of thing no college basketball fan - correction, no sports fan - will soon forget.

Within hours of each other, NCAA history was made twice. That doesn't happen. But it did.

We were all witnesses.


  1. Nice post. Seeing Duke go down to little Lehigh made my year. LOL

  2. Unreal that two 15 seeds advanced. By far the craziest start to the tournament that I can remember. Hope it continues to be just as unpredictable.

  3. Watch, all this craziness early on, then the favorites Kentucky will win it all. hahaha