Analysis: Shocking upsets pursue as March Madness tournament goes underway


Ashley Xie

There may not have been a No. 16 and No. 1 seeded upset, but fans have been met with other great games.

Tyler Perry, Sports Editor

The first few days of the annual March Madness tournament were full of action. There were many bracket-busting upsets as high-ranked teams met their demise. Every seed except the 16 seed won at least one game in the first round, this happened for the first time in NCAA history. When last year’s tournament was canceled, fans were disappointed because they were looking forward to the tournament. This year has made up for the lack of action from last year, and we are only a few days in. 

The First Four opened up with a couple of exciting games on Thursday. There were four matchups, and each game was close. The combined difference for all the games was 16 points, the largest difference in score was an eight point win by the Texas Southern Tigers against the Mt St. Mary’s Mountaineers. The Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Wichita State Shockers both lost by one point while the UCLA Bruins escaped the Michigan State Spartans in a six point overtime win.

The following day, the round of 64 started, and half of the first round teams took action. The Florida Gators and the Virginia Tech Hokies started everything off with a great game. The Hokies were in control for a large portion of the game but after a short run, Florida took the lead in the second half. Mike White and the Gators could not fend off the Hokies and the game went into overtime. Virginia Tech saw little success and could not pull off the upset as they lost 75-70. 

During the next few games, all the outcomes ended off as what most people would expect. The Arkansas Razorbacks beat the Colgate Raiders, the Illinois Fighting Illini thrashed the Drexel Dragons, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders finished off the Utah State Aggies. In the next game, the Ohio State Buckeyes faced off against the No. 15 Oral Roberts. Most people had the Buckeyes dominating the Golden Eagles, but Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas had different plans. After a 7-0 start to finish the game, Oral Orberts kept the game in their control until late when Ohio State took a small lead. Their lead did not last long and the game finished in overtime as the Golden Eagles stunned the Buckeyes.

Another great upset was the Oregon State Beavers and the Tennessee Volunteers. No. 5 and No. 12 seeds historically end up in an upset 35% of the time, which is why those games are highly looked at. This matchup was the only five and 12 upset this year as the Beavers ended the Volunteers in a fun but not too close of a game. The history of the No. 5 and No. 12 seeds is great to look into, and it was amazing to see one take place in this year’s tournament.

The second half of the day gave fans more bracket-busting upsets along with a couple more beatdowns. Projected number one pick in the draft Cade Cunningham is looking to prove his worth in the tournament. The star guard got the opportunity when he and the Oklahoma State Cowboys went up against the Liberty Flames. Cunningham put up 15 points, but Avery Anderson led the team with 21 points to put away Liberty.

The North Carolina Tarheels and the Wisconsin Badgers was the next game to start. The country was split on which team would make it farther. The Tarheels were expected to keep things semi-close, but that went out the window when Badgers guard Brad Davidson went out of his mind and dropped 29 points. His effort, along with a 21 point performance from D’Mitrik Trice, ended North Carolina’s tournament progress.

The next three out of four games ended in upsets. The one game that did not was an underwhelming beatdown by the Houston Cougars on Cleveland State Vikings. No. 13 North Texas took on No. 4 Purdue. The Mean Green unexpectedly beat the Boilermakers 78-69, backed by a 24 point performance from Javion Hamlet. The game was one of several games that ended in overtime.

Following the Purdue and North Texas game, Rutgers and Clemson went underway. The No. 10 and No.7 matchups were a close game, but Geo Baker, Jacob Young, and Caleb McConnell all dropped 13 points to close the Tigers’ season. 

Joe Boeheim and the Syracuse Orange have done well in tournaments recently despite their low seedings. In 2016, they reached the Final Four as a 10 seed, and in 2018, they reached the Sweet 16 as an 11 seed. This year, they are coming into the tournament as an 11 seed, and their first round matchup was against the San Diego State Aztecs. The Aztecs do not have as good tournament capabilities as the Orange, and it showed. Coach’s son Buddy Boeheim stepped up and dropped 30 points to put away San Diego State, and their odds of making a Cinderella run this year stay alive.

The next No. 5 and No. 12 matchup was the Villanova Wildcats and the Winthrop Eagles. Most of the country chose the Wildcats to win despite Collin Gillespie’s absence. Gillespie tore his ACL earlier in the month, and it was a huge blow to Villinova. Winthrop was previously 23-2 on the season, and it was looking to be a good game. The people who picked the Eagles to win did not account for their horrid tournament record (1-10). Villinova went on to win the game 73-63, backed by Jeremiah Robinson-Earl’s 22 point performance.

The second day of the first round was not as action-packed as the second round, but it was still a sight to see. No. 14 Eastern Washington and No. 3 Kansas turned into a stellar matchup between the two schools. The brotherly duo of Tanner and Jacob Grove exceeded expectations as they played their hearts out against the Jayhawks. The brothers combined for 58 points as they gave Kansas a run for their money. 

The next big upset of the first round was the Ohio Bobcats and the Virginia Cavaliers matchup. The Cavaliers are the current reigning champions, and they had high hopes for this year. The Bobcats had different plans this time around and pulled off the amazing upset against the No. 4 seed. Multiple fans had the Bobcats beating the Cavs because Ohio won nine out of their last 10 games and almost beat Illinois earlier in the season. 

The last two games of the first round ended in upsets that really hurt people’s brackets. The Bruins and the BYU Cougars game ended up in a big win for UCLA as they upset No. 6 Cougars. Many fans originally thought it would be MSU in the round of 64 instead of UCLA, but just like in the First Four game, guard Johnny Juzang came up clutch and helped the Bruins win both games.

The final game of the day was a great game that unfolded late in the evening. The No. 3 Texas Longhorns battled against the No. 14 Abilene Cristian Wildcats in a match that almost everyone thought would be an easy win for the Longhorns. Abilene Christian proved to be the better team despite them having a lackluster 29.9 field goal percentage. Everyone on the Wildcats elevated their game and just barely escaped Texas 53-52.

The first few days of March Madness have been really amazing to see. All the close games make the tournament even more exciting. With all the crazy upsets, it is almost unpredictable on who the National Championship will be.