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|
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.
#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|
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.