The Madness has begun! The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is the best event in sports and it has already lived up to its nickname with great plays and great players shining on the biggest possible national stage. Of course, the thing that March Madness is most well known for is upsets and Cinderella stories and we’ve already seen quite a few.
Number one overall seed Villanova went down to a tough, underseeded Wisconsin squad. In an even bigger upset, longtime NCAA committee favorite and five star studded Duke lost to an anonymous South Carolina team.
Elsewhere, fellow heavyweights North Carolina and Kentucky advanced to the Sweet 16, but not before being pushed to the brink by Arkansas and Wichita State respectively. Plucky fan favorite Rhode Island also made a run at a strong Oregon team before losing. All in all, it’s been a wild ride and there’s more to come.
Here is the official Inspector Pumphead analysis of the regions:
East (New York, NY): With the top two seeds (Villanova and Duke) gone, this is the most intriguing and wide open of the regions. Wisconsin and Florida meet on Friday; in many ways the programs are mirror images of each other. Both are football-oriented schools that have found consistent success on the hardwood; both have lost legendary coaches (Bo Ryan, Billy Donovan) but have soldiered on under second year men Greg Gard and Mike White, respectively. The game should go a long way to burnishing either program’s credentials for the future.
In the other game, look to see if long-suffering Baylor can finally silence the haters against Duke-slaying darling South Carolina.
South (Memphis, TN): The South region contains the most future pro talent in the tournament. North Carolina continues in its quest to avenge last year’s heartbreaking championship to Villanova against plucky upstarts Butler. The other game is an absolute must-see, with Lonzo Ball and his run-and-gun UCLA squad taking on Malik Monk and the Kentucky Wildcats. These teams already met in Lexington earlier this season, with UCLA triumphing in Lexington. Expect another high scoring affair.
Midwest (Kansas City, MO): Kansas looks to break through against Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan, who might just be the best big man in the country. Swanigan has been an inspiring story – he was once homeless – but Kansas probably has the better overall team. In the other matchup, Michigan looks to continue its hot streak against Oregon.
West (Los Angeles, CA): Out west, a well-heeled and poised Gonzaga team will try to avoid the upset against a stern West Virginia squad. West Virginia doesn’t have any stars but plays rugged defense and gives maximum effort on every position. It will be fascinating clash of styles, as the Zags will try to execute with precision, while the Mountaineers can settle for making the game ugly.
The other game will hence be dubbed the Sean Miller Bowl, as the Arizona coach takes on his former team, the Xavier Musketeers. If Arizona gets through to the Final Four, they will get to play in their backyard of Phoenix.