Busted! My NCAA bracket is as broken as LeBron James’ nose. When I picked the number one seed Wichita State Shockers to win it all, I never dreamed they would lose in the round of 32 to the Kentucky Wildcats. But then again, I never saw Kentucky as a No. 8 seed. Adding insult to injury, another of my Final Four teams, the No. 6 seed North Carolina Tar Heels lost to the No. 3 seed Iowa State Cyclones.
I knew I was taking a risk with the Shockers. While the Wildcats were an eight seed in the Mid-West region, many picked them to beat the top ranked Shockers in the second round. The Wildcats were ranked number one in the preseason poll, but they did not even make the tournament in 2013. However, star head coach John Calipari had led the Wildcats to the national championship in 2012.
The game went down to the wire, with Shockers sophomore guard Fred VanFleet heaving up a three point shot at the buzzer in hopes of pulling out a Wichita victory. But destiny came up short; the shot hit off the back of the rim, ending the Shockers chase of perfection. With the Shockers out of the tournament my new prediction is the Florida Gators will win it all.
There have been upsets galore this year. Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State each failed to advance to the Sweet 16. This is the first time in 35 years that at least one of these legendary programs has not made it past the round of 32. The two seed Kansas Jayhawks were also knocked out of the big dance by No. 10 seed Stanford Cardinals.
The Blue Devils were eliminated by the upstart No. 14 seed Mercer Bears in the first round, the second time in three seasons Duke did not make it to the round of 32.
Many games have gone down to the wire. There were 14 games that were decided by 5 points or less and six games that went into overtime.
Other memorable upsets include 11th seeded Dayton Flyers beating the 6th seeded Ohio State Buckeyes and the No. 3 seed Syracuse Orange to advance to the Sweet 16 in the South region. Harvard was another surprise team this year, defeating the 5th seeded Cincinnati Bearcats in the round of 64. Former Cinderella darling and 5th seed in the South region VCU (Virginia Commonwealth) was part of the upheaval losing to No. 12 Stephen F. Austin Friday night.
Because of all the stunning victories, there were no perfect brackets remaining in Warren Buffet's billion-dollar perfect bracket challenge by the end of Friday’s action. Buffet came out recently and mentioned he would like to bring the competition back again next year, but make it easier to win.
With two of my Final Four teams now out of contention, I believe that Michigan State, Florida, Arizona, and Michigan will make the national semi-finals with Florida and Michigan advancing to the championship round in Dallas with the Gators and head coach Billy Donovan winning their third title for the program.
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