By Aaron Hampton
March Madness is staring wide-eyed at your tattered brackets during the midnight hours of the morning trying to make sense of one of the most anarchic sporting events in the world. Less than 24 hours into this year’s edition of the NCAA Tournament, and madness might just be underselling what a wild first day of the tournament we’ve seen. So while we brainstorm superlatives to put Thursday’s insanity (hey that’s it) into perspective, let’s take a look at how two of Thursday’s biggest upsets transpired.
2015 marks the third straight year that a 14-seed has advanced over a 3-seed in the opening round of the tournament, and we narrowly missed having 3 straight 14-seeds advance in one day as Northeastern University almost joined shock winners UAB and Georgia State in the second round.
When thinking about what goes into making a great upset, certainly luck has to be listed in there somewhere. Georgia State made their own luck Thursday, using an aggressive defensive approach to force Baylor into 21 turnovers, and a stifling full-court press to shutout Baylor for nearly the last three minutes of the second half.
It just hasn’t been a good year for Big 12 postseason aspirations in both basketball and football, dating back to the College Football Playoff committee overlooking TCU for a playoff berth due in large part because the conference does not have a postseason tournament. Having both Baylor and Iowa State, both two of the upper echelon teams in this year’s Big 12, flame out in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament has to rank right beside that disappoint.
Iowa State were seen as many as a dark horse pick to reach the Final Four in this year’s tournament, and played uncharacteristically mediocre against a team that was barely .500 in the Conference USA. Take nothing away from the Blazers, they dominated the glass, kept Georges Niang from having any type of imprint on the game, and forced Iowa State into questionable decisions with the ball that led to have nine turnovers heading into halftime. Never have I been a fan of the logic that one team wanted a game more than the other, but the Cyclones just could not match the effort and intensity of the Blazers and ultimately it led to the win slipping from their grasp.
At the end of the day, upsets are what make this tournament what it is. Upsets are the reason over 70 million brackets have been filled out and over $2 billion dollars has been wagered on the tournament. So grab the tape and put the tattered pieces of your bracket back together, if Thursday’s any indication we’re in for an unforgettable March.