By Daniel Gaona
Multiple buzzer beaters, 15 upsets, 15 games decided by five points or less, four games that went into overtime.
I forgot to mention that the overall No. 1 seed Kansas fell in the second round.
Wow. There is just no word to describe the first two rounds of March Madness this year. The only thing missing was the Arizona Wildcats.
After that pandemonium, there are No. 9, 12, 11 and 10 seeds still alive.
The question is, which one will be the Cinderella? Possibly all or maybe none of them will advance.
The Big East was the tourney shocker, in a bad way. Of the eight teams that made it, only two are still alive: No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 West Virginia.
That says a lot about the conference that was supposed to dominate the tournament. Six losses in the first two rounds spells overrated, especially when you look at the caliber of teams they faced.
No. 11 Washington and No. 8 California were the only Pacific-10 teams to make it, and both knocked off a Big East squad in the first round. The Huskies beat Marquette with a basket in the final seconds and the Golden Bears blew past Louisville.
Washington is the lone Pac-10 team in the Sweet 16. It will beat West Virginia but then lose to No. 1 Kentucky. The Kentucky Wildcats will take out No. 12 Cornell and then the Huskies to win the East Region. They’ve already scored 190 points in the tourney.
Down in the South Region, No. 10 St. Mary’s and No. 3 Baylor will be close but Baylor will take it. That gives them a date with No. 1 Duke, which will beat No. 4 Purdue easily.
The Bears and Blue Devils will set up another exciting game. It will go down to the final seconds and probably overtime too, but Duke will end up winning.
No. 9-seeded Northern Iowa is a candidate for the Cinderella this year as it pushed past tournament favorite Kansas. After a win like that, the Panthers have momentum in their favor.
However, they face No. 5 Michigan State, the team that lost the national championship to North Carolina last year.
The Spartans are my pick to win the Midwest Region, or “Bang Bus region” as Clark Kellogg called it on Selection Sunday. But No. 6 Tennessee or No. 2 Ohio State could be a brick wall in the Elite Eight.
Syracuse probably has the easiest road to the Final Four. It just has to beat No. 5 Butler, which has won 22 straight and is destined to fall apart, and then most likely No. 2 Kansas State.
That will set the Final Four match-ups: Michigan State Spartans against Syracuse and Kentucky against Duke.
The Spartans will fall short of a title once again while Syracuse will move on to the finals.
On the other side, Kentucky and Duke would set up a great championship game but only the Wildcats will get to play for a title. Once again, the game will go down to the wire.
In the national championship, the Orange defense will slow down the Wildcats but the Syracuse offense will still have to throw up big numbers. There will be no room for error on either side and one mistake could decide the game
As long as those two things occur and the Orange doesn’t get sloppy, they will win and possibly redeem respect for the Big East. I did say “possibly.”
But from now until the title game on April 5, there are still plenty of college hoops to watch- 14 games to be exact. Let’s just hope that the Madness continues to be wild.
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