Let the Madness Begin

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Every basketball fan’s favorite month is in full swing. Attention ladies and gentlemen, in case you missed all of the chaos during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Conference tournaments, the NCAA tourney is upon us. The conference tournaments were action-packed to say the least. In the BIG 12 Tournament, we saw National Player of the Year favorite and BIG 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield knock in a double-pump half court shot at the buzzer to stun the Mountaineers of West Virginia. He proceeded to rush the scorers table and jump on it to celebrate, bringing his team into the stands to celebrate with Sooner fans. After all of the celebration calmed down, officials went to review the play and it was ruled that Hield’s shot was a fraction of a second late and West Virginia had won the game, advancing to the conference finals.

In the American East Conference we saw the Cincinnati Bearcats hit a three-point shot with .8 seconds left, which appeared to down the Connecticut Huskies by three. The game was all but over. Cincinnati ran down the court and gave UConn freshman guard Jalen Adams the opportunity to get up one last shot. Adams caught the ball with .8 seconds left, turned up court and threw up a 75 foot prayer. Adams banked in the three-quarter court prayer to send the game into the fourth overtime where Connecticut would defeat Cincinnati by seven. Long story short, March is here, and if you missed it, you should deeply regret it. However, the maddest of March has only just begun. Brace yourself college basketball fans.

On Sunday, the field of 68 was announced. Fans around the country were shocked and surprised at some decisions made. As with every year, some agreed with the selection committee and others were disgusted. The first shocker of the NCAA Tournament came with the announcement of the number one seeds. The Kansas Jayhawks, after winning the BIG 12 Tournament earned the first number one seed, being placed in the South Region. ACC Champion North Carolina, and runner up Virginia earned the next two number one seeds in the East and Midwest, respectively. The surprise came next. After sticking together and downing the Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday to win the BIG 10 Championship, it was almost a sure bet that the Michigan State Spartans and Denzel Valentine were in line to receive the final number one seed. A shock to many, Sparty was snubbed and the Oregon Ducks, after defeating No. 12 Utah to win the PAC 12 Conference Championship, earned the final number one seed in the West.

This was only the beginning of the madness as teams on the bubble would wait to hear their name called. The Iowa Hawkeyes and Head Coach Fran McCaffery were in the top 10 for a good chunk of the season, but they stumbled at the finish and eventually found out that they had only earned a seven seed on Sunday.  The Maryland Terrapins, after starting off the season 15-1 (their best start in school history).], were only able to manage a five seed, also after having hiccups towards the end of the season.

The Seton Hall Pirates, after upsetting sure number one seed Villanova to win the Big East Tournament, earned a six seed where they will match up with the eleventh seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs, who only earned a tournament birth after defeating the St. Mary’s Gaels in the West Coast Conference Championship. Some bubble teams fared well, the Michigan Wolverines, after defeating the Indiana Hoosiers at the buzzer in the BIG 10 Conference Tournament, saw themselves earn an eleven seed to match up against Tulsa in a play-in game.

The Pittsburgh Panthers, who defeated the Syracuse Orange in the second round of the ACC Tournament and lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels the next game,  earned a ten seed to play against the Wisconsin Badgers. After dropping their first matchup of the ACC Tournament, the 19-win Syracuse Orange team  was projected by many bracketologists to be one of the first four teams out. However, Hall of Fame Head Coach Jim Boeheim and his team earned a ten seed and are scheduled to play Dayton, a rematch from 2014.

To the surprise of many, the St. Mary’s Gaels were left out of the tournament, despite being the team with the lowest RPI to ever miss out on the NCAA Tournament, according to espn.com. To the disappointment of many, after being defeated by the Iona Gaels in the MACC Championship, the Monmouth Hawks and their wild bench celebrations were left out of the NCAA Tournament. Also, freshman phenom Ben Simmons, who was great for LSU all season and possibly the best player in the country, failed to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament and declined a bid to the NIT Tournament. 16-seed Florida Gulf Coast, formerly known as Dunk City for their 2013 performance, will kick off the NCAA Tournament against sixteen seed Fairleigh Dickinson in a play-in game Tuesday night at 6:40 PM on truTV. If you filled out a bracket this year, prepare for lots of red x’s. The 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament promises to be filled with upsets, buzzer beaters, head scratchers, and disappointment. Ladies and gentlemen, buckle your seat belts. March Madness is upon us.