Last week when I tried foolishly to give specific tips for filling out your NCAA Tournament Bracket, I did admit there was a good possibility it could go all up in flames.
My bracket has done just that. I think it’s a pretty safe bet to say that yours truly won’t be bringing home first prize in the office bracket pool.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Yes, I’m pretty stunned and ecstatic that my alma mater Syracuse decided to come out of nowhere and qualify for the Sweet 16, but my enthusiasm and excitement for this year’s tournament goes beyond just the Orange.
This NCAA Tournament has been a basketball junkie’s dream. The wall-to-wall excitement of game after game combined with the drama and theater on full display. Pure bliss.
I’ve never had more fun watching the NCAA Tournament in my life.
Friday may have been the single greatest day in tournament history. A 15, 14 and 13 seed all advanced, there were multiple buzzer beaters, and the action was relentless.
We witnessed one of the biggest upsets in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Middle Tennessee State stunning Michigan State, a team that was one of the top favorites to win the entire competition.
Of course, Michigan State probably busted every bracket inside the United States, but as a sports fan, how could you not enjoy rooting for Cinderella?
I’m more than happy to trade in my bracket for that.
The Sweet 16 is usually prone to give us one matchup you never possibly expected. Raise your hands if you had 11th seed Gonzaga and 10th seed Syracuse matching up against one another on Friday night!
The matchups dictate everything regardless of regular-season record.
The beautiful part of this tournament is seeing a team go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.
That was on full display with Northern Iowa.
Northern Iowa had one of the most dramatic wins in NCAA Tournament history with a buzzer beater from half court against Texas.
Euphoric, exhilarating, as good as it gets.
On Sunday, Northern Iowa had the worst collapse I’ve ever seen in a sporting event.
On the verge of a Sweet 16 appearance, Northern Iowa had a 12-point lead with 35 seconds to go.
Your chances of winning are right about 99.999999 percent. Consider no team in NCAA D1 college basketball history had lost a 12-point lead inside the final minute!
Instead, Northern Iowa turned the ball over four times in 25 seconds, they saw their 12-point lead evaporate at the snap of a finger and ended up losing the game in double-overtime.
I’ve seen some horrific collapses in my years of watching sports: 2003 ALCS Game 7, the 2015 NFC Championship game between the Packers and Seahawks and, of course, Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds against the Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals, but this one takes the cake!
A 12-point lead with 35 seconds to go. You should never ever lose that game.
This weekend, the beauty of March Madness was on full display. As a fan, you honestly had no idea what to expect, game by game, minute by minute, hour by hour.
One can only hope that the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8 can provide as many chilling moments after what we witnessed over the first weekend of the tournament.
The weekend provided the greatest upset arguably in tournament history, the greatest collapse in a sporting event I’ve ever seen and countless buzzer beaters and dramatic finishes.
What’s next? Only the Madness can decide that.
JJ’s Amended Bracket (I need a do-over) • West Region
Oregon over Duke, Oklahoma over Texas A&M
Oklahoma over Oregon
• Midwest Region
Iowa St. over Virginia, Syracuse over Gonzaga
Iowa St. over Syracuse
• South Region
Kansas over Maryland, Miami over Villanova
Kansas over Miami
• East Region
North Carolina over Indiana, Wisconsin over Notre Dame
North Carolina over Wisconsin