Foul Play: March ain't no Madness
Hoo boy, I love March Madness. It perfectly encapsulates what college sports should be like: messy, confusing, and on the whole just plain fun.
Just plain fun being something a lot of top seeds didn’t really get the opportunity to enjoy. See, the great thing about this storied month is the upsets. We aren’t tuning in to see a No. 1 seed slap the hell out of a No. 16 seed again; we want to watch something magical happen, or a Cinderella run where a team that nobody saw coming goes far enough to go down in history. And man, did we get those upsets. It started simple: No. 4 Virginia got taken down by No. 13 Furman on a last-second game-winning three. There’s only a couple things constant in the world: death, taxes and Virginia underperforming in the big dance.
Of course, the basketball gods were not content with just one upset. My beloved Arizona got their asses handed to them by a bunch of prep school nerds in a 2-15 upset. Arizona’s second upset versus a 15 seed, making them the only such school to that in history. But even that wasn’t enough.
The Purdue Boilermakers boiled over, and in what was completely expected for a team that relied extensively on tall boy Zach Edey to score, got taken down by 16-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson. That’s right — Purdue now joins Virginia in the hallowed cathedral of biggest choke artists in history. So add in one more constant, the state of Indiana being terrible at sports. That FDU loss was even more devastating considering FDU only got in the game on a technicality. They lost to Merrimack in the Northeast Conference finals, only to see Merrimack get disqualified over the division transfer four year time frame. Because of how absolutely godawful the NEC was, this one bid conference didn’t even get the decency of playing directly in the first round; they had to play Texas Southern in the play-in, and beat them. So Purdue didn’t lose to a mid-ranked 16 seed, they got whacked by a virtual 17 seed that shouldn’t even have been there.
FDU, unfortunately, didn’t make it past the second round, taking an eight-point drubbing by Florida Atlantic, a team which… then proceeded to make the Final Four, over No. 4 Tennessee and No. 3. Kansas State. It just keeps getting better. FAU is the third No. 9 seed to make it to the Final Four, and they will be playing San Diego State after a nail biting, last-second free throw from Darion Trammel put away the Bluejays for good. Of course, with a second left on the clock, it was a solid minute before we could actually see the game get called, but hey, it’s always fun seeing good basketball get played.
The other No. 1 seeds, Alabama, Kansas, and Houston, all got upset as well, though Kansas lost to Arkansas in yet another postseason. Congrats on Jayhawk basketball for reaching the same levels as their football program. The result? The first-ever No. 1 seedless Final Four, and after Texas lost to Miami, we've got a Final Four with no one, two or three seeds. Depending on who takes care of business, we could see UConn play in another championship, or maybe even the all south Florida basketball tournament between Miami and FAU. Easily the prediction everyone had when this postseason started.
March Madness delivered what’s on the tin – madness. The upsets this year have been phenomenal, and watching the Cinderella run of a team like Florida Atlantic has been entertaining as hell. Seeing No. 1 seeds collapse left and right has been a breath of fresh air, and even if Arizona couldn’t win it all, it’s going to be fun watching these last few games.