The ides of March to the college basketball fan is analogous to Christmas morning. The tournament. The big dance. And so far, this year’s NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship has not disappointed. It’s given us heartbreak, thrills and plenty of bracket busting to go around.
Playing the first two rounds at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, the East region may be the most surprising. After the Round of 32, No. 1 seed Villanova University and the No. 2 seed Duke University are both out. Defending champion Villanova lost in a dramatic fashion to the No. 8 seed University of Wisconsin. The University of South Carolina—coming out of the always-strong Southeastern Conference—worked Duke. Wins from the University of Florida and Baylor University as the No. 4 and No. 3 seeds, respectively, rounded out the Eastern region.
Out of the West, the No. 1 seed, Gonzaga University, took down Northwestern University to end their first trip to the tournament. They will take on a strong West Virginia University in the Sweet Sixteen. No. 11 seed Xavier College upset No. 6 seed Maryland University and No. 3 seed Florida State University to prolong their unexpected tournament run to the Sweet Sixteen. University of Arizona, the No. 2 seed, defeated North Dakota State University and St. Mary’s College to round out the region.
The seeding in the South region, however, turned out to be fairly accurate. The No. 1-4 seeds all made it out of the Round of 32. No. 3 seed University of California-Los Angeles and their explosive offense will face the No. 2 seed University of Kentucky. No. 1 seed University of North Carolina will face No. 4 Butler University.
The University of Michigan Wolverines seem to be the sleeper out of the Midwest division. They upset No. 2 seed University of Louisville to face the No. 3 University of Oregon Ducks. No. 1 University of Kansas rolled over both the University of California-Davis and Michigan State University to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, where they will face No. 4 seed Purdue University.
The Sweet Sixteen contains plenty of high seeded teams, as well as sleepers that arguably should have been seeded higher. The teams are dynamic and strong, from Wisconsin’s excellent defense to the explosive shooting of the Kentucky Wildcats.
So yes, your bracket may be busted. Your team may be out, and you may have lost a little—or a lot—of money from your brackets. That, however, is the beauty of March Madness.
Watching groundbreaking performances is pure entertainment. March Madness has been the stage for some of the most exciting moments in all of sports. We tune in because at any given moment, we could see a play that will be shown on ESPN for decades to come.
These games offer something that is not normally seen in professional sports: they give us stories to follow that seem like they are straight off the big screen. This tournament has seen the first tournament berth of Northwestern University. It is the same stage where Christian Laettner made a name for himself.
We are blessed with buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and upsets. It is, without a doubt, the highlight of the college basketball season. March is when the players play. March is when hard work weighs more than talent.
March is the culmination of it all.