Everyone loves a good Cinderella story. We love to pull for the underdog (see David defeat Goliath). And what better time is there to see upsets than during the NCAA Tournament?
March Madness is known for its Cinderella stories, and this year's tourney has certainly not disappointed. Many a bracket has already been ruined due to some great upsets.
|Photo by: Eileen Blass|
On Thursday, the No. 12 California Golden Bears took on the No. 5 UNLV Rebels in San Jose, California. It was close all game, with both teams leading on multiple occasions. The score was tied 28-28 after the first half, and both squads came out of the locker room looking to advance. With only 6 seconds remaining, Cal had the ball and the lead, 62-61. UNLV had no choice but to foul Allen Crabbe, who drained both free throws to give the Golden Bears a 3-point cushion. With two seconds remaining the Rebels had the ball with a chance to tie, but Bryce Dejean-Jones made a costly turnover and California managed to secure the upset win. The Golden Bears would go on to lose to Syracuse in the third round, however, 66-60.
Also on Thursday, in Salt Lake City, Utah, No. 3 New Mexico was facing Harvard. Since Harvard is a school more known for politicians than basketball players, many bracket challengers picked the Lobos to cruise to an easy victory. The Crimson held a surprising 31-27 lead at the half, but most people (myself included) were certain New Mexico was going to pull away in the second half. Boy, were we wrong. Harvard maintained the lead for the majority of the game and seemingly could not miss from the floor. The Lobos pulled to within 5 with a minute remaining, but the Crimson displayed some great defense and refused to let New Mexico get any closer en route to a 68-62 win. Unfortunately, Harvard's clock would strike midnight the following round, as they were destroyed by Arizona, 74-51.
On Friday afternoon in Kansas City, Missouri, No. 13 La Salle took on No. 4 Big 12 powerhouse Kansas State. The Explorers jumped out to a big lead early, going up 44-26 heading into the locker room. The Wildcats weren't about to go down without a fight, though, and surged to close the huge gap. Kansas State scored 35 points in the second half while holding La Salle to only 19. The last 10 minutes of the game were nerve-racking for both sets of fans, with the lead bouncing back and forth between the teams. No one was missing and it seemed that the winner would be decided by which squad had the ball last. Jerrell Wright, who scored 21 points for the Explorers, made one free throw to put La Salle up 2 with 8 seconds to go. Kansas State called on Angel Rodriguez to take the final shot, but his jumper clanged off the iron, and the Explorers advanced with a 63-61 victory. La Salle takes on another underdog, No. 12 Ole Miss, Sunday night.
By far the biggest upset of the tourney is No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast University upsetting number 2 Georgetown. Most people have probably never even heard of FGCU, much less expected them to beat the Hoyas. In fact, this is the first time the Eagles have been in the NCAA Tournament. Florida Gulf Coast started off strong. They were not missing any shots and displayed the defensive tenacity of a top 5 ranked team. The Eagles held a slight 24-22 lead at intermission, but came out with a bang in the second half. At one point, they led by as many as 19! Still, Georgetown wasn't going down quietly, and with less than a minute remaining, the Hoyas had closed the gap to 4. They had no other choice but to foul and pray FGCU would miss free throws. Unfortunately for Georgetown, it didn't happen. The Eagles went on to win by 10, ruining brackets everywhere. Florida Gulf Coast's next challenge will come against No. 7 San Diego State, Sunday evening.
Then on Saturday night, the first No. 1 team fell when Gonzaga was upset by No. 9 Wichita State in Salt Lake City. Bracket challengers everywhere wept. The Shockers lived up to their nickname, leading 36-31 at the half before Ron Baker, Fred Vanvleet and Malcolm Armstead made clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the win for Wichita and send the Bulldogs home earlier than most expected.
March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year. We love to see all the underdog teams pull upsets against the big names, yet hate to see our brackets busted. The excitement keeps us on the edge of our seats and keeps us coming back for more.
It's the one time of year where a bunch of boys playing Cinderella isn't a bad thing.