March is one of the best months for any sports fan. March can only mean one thing: the NCAA Basketball Tournament. More commonly known as March Madness, this tournament puts the 68 best college basketball teams against each other in a single elimination tournament.
Each year there are Cinderella stories, teams that knock off stronger teams against nearly all odds, and dominate teams. 2013 March Madness saw teams such as 12th ranked Oregon, 15th ranked Florida Gulf Coast and 9th ranked Wichita State have great success. This year, we may see even more lower seeds have great success in the tournament if the first round is any indication on how the rest of the tournament will go.
The first round of the tournament was played on March 18-19. 4 games were played over these two days to see which teams would move on to the greater field of 64 teams.
Albany and Mount Saint Mary's faced off first with a chance to play top seeded Florida on the line. Albany squeaked out a win by a score of 71-64.
North Carolina State and Xavier was the next game on the slate. North Carolina State handed Xavier a 74-59 loss.
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On Thursday, Cal Poly faced Texas Southern and Tennessee took on Iowa. Cal Poly and Tennessee took wins in those games and moved on to the second round of the tournament.
Out of these four teams, only one of them is still alive in the tournament and won the right to play in the third round.11th ranked Tennessee went on to defeat 6th ranked Massachusetts.
If you root for upsets, then this was your round. Out of the 32 games played, 8 of them were upsets. That's 25% of the games played. Out of those 8 upsets, 2 of them went into overtime, 4 were decided by eight points or less, and 2 games saw the lower seed win by more than ten points.
The biggest headline from the second round was 3rd seeded Duke losing to 14th seeded Mercer 78-71. Duke has been a dominant powerhouse in the NCAA tournament for many years. Under head coach Mike Kryzewski, Duke has made eleven Final Four appearances and have won the national title four times. But a notable statistic is that Duke has also been axed from the tournament in the first round five times. As much as it was an upset, perhaps it wasn't that big of a surprise.
Other notable upsets were 11th ranked Dayton's 60-59 victory over 6th ranked Ohio State, 10th ranked Stanford's five point victory over 7th ranked New Mexico, and 12th ranked Stephen F. Austin's overtime win against 5th ranked VCU.
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There are always a few teams each year that seem to have been ranked lower than they deserve. This year, it's 12th ranked Harvard. Harvard made it to the third round of the tournament by beating 5th ranked Cincinnati 61-57. Cincinnati is a team that was projected to make it far in the tournament. After seeing Harvard play, it's clear that they are a better team than their ranking suggests.
Harvard tore apart the Bearcats' defense, a defense that's had been terrorizing teams all season. Not only did Harvard perform excellently on offense, but they also held the Bearcats to 36% shooting from the field and 33% from beyond the 3-point line. Cincinnati star Sean Kilpatrick was held to just 18 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist. He also had 5 turnovers. During the regular season, Kilpatrick averaged 20.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and just 2 turnovers per game.
Wesley Saunders was the star for Harvard. The junior guard had 12 points and 4 assists in 30 minutes of play. Although Saunders had a standout game, he was not the only reason that Harvard won. Harvard played as a complete team, which was how they were able to secure the victory. If Harvard continues to play like they did against Cincinnati, they will make it far in the tournament.
The third round of the tournament starts today at 12pm ET. Games can be seen on WJZ.