The first weekend of the NCAA Tournament is officially done. And it was crazy how many weird things have happened and what we just witnessed. Never before seen upsets, dominant performances from low ranked teams, so below we break down 9 facts that make this March Madness the most insane March Madness in recent memory:
1. A #1 Seed lost to a 16 seed for the first time in history
The biggest upset of the tournament was the number 16th seeded UMBC ( University of Maryland at Baltimore County) beating number 1 seeded University of Virgina on Friday night. This was the first time in history that a No.1 seed lost in the first round.
It was an upset that was going to happen eventually. Even though UMBC couldn’t keep the magic happening and get to the sweet 16, the Retrievers win that will never be forgotten.
2. Other top rated seeds aren’t playing well either
While Virginia’s first-round loss was by far the most surprising of the first weekend of March Madness, the Cavaliers were not the only colossal favorite to suffer a shocking defeat. Teams that were big favorites to advance like North Carolina, Arizona, Michigan State, Cincinnati and Xavier all got eliminated before the sweet 16.
3. The Underdogs aren’t lucky, they are dominating.
Not only are high seeded teams losing in surprising fashion, it’s how they are losing they are getting blown out.
UMBC beat Virgina by 20, Texas A&M blew out North Carolina and Auburn was down as many as 40 points to Clemson.
4. For the first time in history, a region didn’t have 1 top 4 seed in the sweet 16.
The upsets are so prominent that we have seen a few NCAA Tournament firsts. In addition to Virginia’s historic loss, this year represented the first time a region’s four highest-seeded teams were shut out of the Sweet 16.
In the South region, both No. 2 Cincinnati and No. 3 Tennessee lost in rather heartbreaking fashion in the second round, and No. 4 Arizona couldn’t even escape the round of 64, resulting in an unprecedented rate of lower-seed representation in the Sweet 16.
It makes for an exciting and unpredictable left side of the bracket moving forward, though the pieces all seem to be falling into place for a potential run from Kentucky.
5. Nevada Can’t Play a Boring Game
The 7th seeded Nevada Wolfpack seem to not be able to play a boring game.
In the first round Nevada forced OT against Texas by coming back from down 14 in the 2nd half, and winning 87-83 in OT.
In the 2nd round they topped their first round performance. Down by 22 to Cincinnati with 11 minutes left they pulled of one of the most improbable comebacks in NCAA history.
Nevada now will face off against the 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers in the Sweet 16.
6. Number 9 seeds have a presence like never before.
While the double-digit seeds have gotten the most attention for their upsets, No. 9 seeds are also celebrating the best Sweet 16 they’ve ever had — for the first time in history, two No. 9 seeds are moving on to the second weekend of action.
Just five of the previous 132 No. 9 seeds had ever made Sweet 16 before 2018, and now two have made it in one year.
This year though, Florida State and Kansas State have flipped the script, with the Seminoles taking down the top-seeded Xavier and the Wildcats having the advantage of being the first team in history to play against a No. 16 seed in the second round.
7. Overall, lower seeds are dominating the Sweet 16.
It’s not just the No. 9 seeds taking advantage of a volatile year in college basketball — lower-seeded teams across the bracket are enjoying more Sweet 16 success than almost any other year.
Of the teams heading into the second weekend of the tournament, more are ranked fifth or lower than fourth or higher. Should the upsets continue through this weekend, we could be looking at one of the oddest Final Fours in history.
8. Syracuse did it again.
What would be March Madness without an improbable run from a low seeded Syracuse team?
After sneaking into the tourney as a bubble team on selection sunday, The Orange had to win a play in game just to get to the 1st round of the tourney. Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone is giving offenses fits as Syracuse stunned 3rd seeded Michigan State for a spot in the sweet 16.
9. The the national title is still wide open.
The most thrilling part of this year’s March Madness is what’s still to come. While a few remaining teams — Villanova, Kansas, Duke, and Kentucky — are no strangers to the tournament, there’s no clear-cut champion yet, and it feels as if there’s any team left in the field could make a run at the national championship.
Can Gonzaga shake off the ghosts of last year’s championship loss to take home the title? Could Loyola-Chicago keep Sister Jean’s magic going all the way to the Final Four? Anything is in the realm of possibility, and if the tournament has told us anything so far, it’s to expect the unexpected.