Ben Lepper ‘25
Chief Sports Editor
At the conclusion of March Madness’ chaotic first round, the Associated Press reported that there were no perfect brackets remaining. And no, not just on ESPN, not just on CBS, not just in a certain region – NO perfect brackets. Out of the over twenty million brackets filled for this year’s tournament, not a single one survived to the second round. So, what happened to cause all of these brackets to bust? Easy: the most insane first two rounds of a March Madness tournament in recent history. Let’s take a look back at some of the more surprising outcomes.
#14 Furman Takes Down #3 Virginia
We couldn’t even get through a few hours of basketball without a major upset. UVA, who were on the losing end of one of the most famous upsets in March Madness history, went into their matchup against the Furman Paladins as huge favorites. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shake Furman for the entire game, as it remained a close match deep into the second half. However, the Cavaliers were up 67-65 with less than 10 seconds to play, and had possession of the ball. A victory was in reach – a few quick passes after the inbound would win it. UVA guard Kihei Clark did not get the memo. After he caught the inbound, he did his best Jakobi Meyers impression and launched the ball into the middle of the court, only for it to be intercepted by Furman’s Garret Hien. Hien then passed the ball to JP Pegues, who sunk a beautiful three-point shot and plunged the dagger into Virginia’s heart. Furman had done it, and the Paladins were moving on. Unfortunately for them, their tournament would end two days later at the hands of San Diego State, but regardless, nobody will forget that ten second sequence for a long time.
#15 Princeton Advances to the Sweet 16
I don’t think anyone saw this coming. I’m always a huge fan of picking the Ivy League’s representative to make it to the second round, but Arizona came into the tournament hot. And yet, they went ice cold against the Tigers, losing 59-55. Princeton then took on the #7 Missouri, who were projected to be upset fairly early in this tournament, but still should have been able to beat a 15 seed. This one wasn’t even close: Princeton crushed Missouri 78-63 and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1967. Not bad for a decidedly non-sports school. Princeton will take on Creighton next, and hopefully they can keep this hot streak going.
I think everybody knows what I mean by this one. All other upsets in this tournament pale in comparison to what happened between Fairleigh Dickinson and Purdue. Before this match, UMBC was the only 16 seed to ever win a game in March Madness, taking down UVA in 2018. But, on Saint Patrick’s Day, another team joined that hyper-exclusive club: the FDU Knights, who took down Zach Edey and the Boilermakers by a score of 63-58. This win was completely improbable. FDU didn’t even win their conference’s tournament, but made it to March Madness anyhow due to NCAA rules regarding teams moving from D2 to D1 (Merrimack was not eligible to play). The smallest team in the tournament went up against the tallest team and took them down in convincing fashion. After the game, a FDU player was heard saying “They told us we weren’t supposed to be here!” That quote sums this team’s story perfectly. Everybody wrote off FDU, and yet they prevailed. This is why March Madness is so great— extremely unknown teams take the spotlight and capture the hearts of sports fans worldwide. FDU’s story ended in the second round with a loss to FAU, but that doesn’t take away the fact that they are only the second 16 seed to ever win a game in the tournament. They will have that forever.
#1 Kansas Misses The Sweet 16
The curse continues. With their loss to Arkansas on March 18th, Kansas became the fifth straight reigning champion to lose in the round of 32. Now, at this point, most everyone’s bracket was busted, so the loss wasn’t as bad for a lot of people as it could have been. But, regardless, it’s always a bit of a shock to see a team who dominated a year ago to bow out in the early stages. The Jayhawks will be watching the rest of the tournament from their couches, while Arkansas will face UConn in the Sweet 16.
Here are some other notable upsets from the first four days of March Madness: #11 Pittsburgh defeated #6 Iowa State, #10 Penn State took #7 Texas A&M out of the tournament, and in the Round of 32, #7 Michigan State handled #2 Marquette, and #6 Creighton knocked out #3 Baylor. This tournament so far has been one for the ages, and one can only hope the excitement continues as March rolls on.
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