Well, How many brackets are in shreds?
The answer MANY of them!
The 2021 version of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has been full of surprises. From play-in games with power, five teams, #11, #12, and #15 seeds, dancing past the first round. Also, the first NO contest due to a pandemic! This year's tournament has had it all and ALL being held in one state!
The play-in games had one particular interest as it matched the Michigan State Spartans 9th in the Big Ten 15-13(9-11) vs. the UCLA Bruins 4th in the Pac-12 19-9(13-6) for an 11th seed slot in a game against BYU. Not sure what the committee was smoking here, but UCLA won in OT 86-80.
Upsets, you want upsets? We GOT EM!
Then the first day, six teams fell to the upset bug.
First was #2 seeded Ohio State 21-9(12-8), who lost OT 75-72 to #15 seeded Oral Roberts 16-10 (10-5).
The #9 seed in the South, the Wisconsin Badgers 17-13(10-10), ripped up the #8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels by 23 points 85-62.
Then came the North Texas Mean Green 17-9(9-5), upsetting the #4th seed Purdue Boilermakers 18-9(13-6) 78-69 IN OT!
Rutgers 15-12(10-10), the #10 seed in the Midwest, managed to squeak by the #7th seed Clemson Tigers 16-7(10-6) 60-56.
Finally, not to be outdone, the #11th seeded Syracuse Orange 18-9(9-7) swept away the #6 seed San Diego State 23-3(14-3) by the score of 78-62.
Day two saw four more upsets, one involving a play-in team. It also saw a game called a no-contest due to covid. Near Midday announced that the Virginia Commonwealth Rams had multiple positive cases of COVID-19 and would be unable to play. The committee decided to declare the Game a no contest and award the "win" to the Oregon Ducks.
The first upset was the 10th seeded Maryland Terrapins 16-13(9-11), defeating #7th seeded UConn 15-7(11-6) 63-54.
Then it was the Ohio Bobcats out of the MAC to get in on the upset craze. #13 seeded Ohio 16-7(9-5) took down the 4th seed Virginia Cavaliers 18-6(13-4) by a slim 62-58 margin.
Next, the #11th seed play-in winner UCLA 20-9(13-6) stepped up and sent #6 seed BYU 20-6(10-3) home 73-62.
Rounding out the upset was the #14 seed Abilene Christian Wildcats 23-4(13-2), taking down the three seed Texas Longhorns 19-7(11-6). AC was tested but held on for a 53-52 win.
Round Two would prove just as fun as the day started. With the #1 seed Illinois 24-9 being toppled by the #8 seed Ramblers of Loyola 24-4 to the tune of 71-58.
Then #11 seed Syracuse 19-9 decided one upset wasn't enough, so they beat the #3 seed, W. Virginia, 19-9 by three, 75-72.
#15 seed Oral Roberts, 17-10, told Syracuse to hold my communion wine. Then they recorded their second upset as well, taking down #7 seed Florida 15-9 by three as well 81-78
The #12 seed Oregon State Beavers 18-12 decided they might as well join the two upset clubs as they took down the #3 seed Oklahoma State 21-8 by the score of 80-70.
The second round's final day lacked a little luster from the previous days but still featured two upsets.
The first game of the day Oregon 21-6. Who was essentially given a bye into round two trounced Iowa 22-8, 95-80.
Then #6 seed USC 22-7(15-5) sent #3 seed Kansas 21-7(12-6) home, Cruising past the Jayhawks 85-51
A couple of notable items from the first two rounds the Big Ten started with nine teams after two days, only one is left the conference went 7-8 so far.
The Pac-12 with only five teams in is 8-1
So the sweet 16 shapes up like this.
Saturday, March 27th
#12 Oregon State 19-12 Vs. #8 Loyola 25-4
Oregon St. has played very well in both of its upset games. But Loyola is no slouch when it comes to a high-energy offense and VERY stingy defense. I look for this to be a close game until someone makes a run. My money is on Loyola to do that.
#5 Villanova 18-6 vs #1 Baylor 24-2
The Wildcats have an uphill battle here. While Wisconsin did push Baylor a little, the game was never in danger. Villanova has shown a stout offense against lesser opponents. I think, though, that Baylor's defense and scoring punch will give Villanova a reality check.
#15 Oral Roberts 17-10 vs. #3 Arkansas 24-6
Oral Roberts has played very well and showed a lot of grit and determination. While Arkansas has had some issues falling behind early, they have found a way to fight back. This may not be the 40 minutes of hell from the Nolan Richardson era, but it is close. However, I think that if the Razorbacks don't guard well on the perimeter, the Golden Eagles will make it a long night. Upset to Oral Roberts
#11 Syracuse 18-9 vs #2 Houston 26-3
Buddy Boeheim has been phenomenal so far. He will need one of those games to get by a powerful Houston club. I think Houston has a lot going for them and won't let a coach's son stand in the way.
Sunday, March 29th
#5 Creighton 21-8 vs. #1 Gonzaga 28-0
Crieghton is an excellent club, well-coached and good discipline, but they will be no match for this bunch of Bulldogs.
#4 Florida State 17-6 vs. #1 Michigan 22-4
The Seminoles have one of their best defensive teams in a while, and they can score as well. Oh, and they are BIG. Michigan was playing terrific basketball before they shut down for Covid. Without forwarding Isaiah Livers, they may not have enough to take Florida State. Give the upset to Florida State.
#11 UCLA 20-9 vs #2 Alabama 25-6
UCLA has been on a roll playing one more game than everyone else, and they have a great run. Alabama has been doing it all season, and I think against better competition. So all I can say is Roll Tide.
#7 Oregon 22-6 vs #6 USC 23 -7
In a conference match-up, the Ducks of Oregon will avenge an earlier conference loss to USC.(the Trojans won 72-58). It was the only game played between the two teams this year. Oregon did put 95 on Iowa. However, USC just took down a Kansas team with relative ease. I think this will be closer than the earlier contest between the two, and I think the Trojans come out on top.
So I am calling for two upsets here.
Oral Roberts over Arkansas and Florida State over Michigan.
Gonzaga looks to be the odds-on favorite here to win out from here, but I would not count out Baylor. The dark-horse teams that I think can pull off four more wins; Florida St and Houston. All in all, it should be fun the next few weekends.
See ya next week.
* team logos courtesy of the NCAA