Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the Madness.
The NCAA Tournament tipped off March 15 and brackets were busted immediately — including mine. The East and Midwest regions look somewhat normal: Two No. 1 seeds, two No. 2 seeds, one No. 3 seed, two No. 5 seeds and one No. 11 seed.
However, in the South and West Regions on the left side of the bracket, the highest seed left is No. 3 seed Michigan. The remaining teams include a No. 4 seed, a No. 5 seed, two No. 7 seeds, two No. 9 seeds and a No. 11 seed.
Loyola is one of the No. 11 seeds left, playing in the South region. Given all that’s happened so far in the tournament, don’t count the Ramblers out. If you really expect me to believe you had No. 16 seed University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) beating No. 1 seed Virginia in your bracket, I’m going to need to see some proof. This proves why the tournament is called “March Madness.” Anything can happen on any given night.
Loyola guard Ben Richardson put it best during a media session. He said he’s had people come up to him saying the road to the Final Four looks easier for Loyola now that No. 2 seed University of Cincinatti and No. 1 seed Virginia are eliminated. His response was great.
“[I was] like ‘Are you kidding?’” Richardson said. “‘Have you seen what happened? You think it’s going to be easier after seeing all that that happened?’”
Even the other No. 11 seed Syracuse could make some noise. The Orange got into the field via a 60-56 play-in game victory over Arizona State University March 14. It’s a wide-open field at this point and it’s only going to get more interesting from here.
None of the 17.3 million brackets created on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge picked all of the Sweet 16 correctly. Only three of those entries picked 15 of the Sweet 16 teams correctly, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. If I had to guess, those three people had Virginia in the Sweet 16. I could be wrong, though.
Even though bracket pools are getting thrown into tailspins, March Madness is still the greatest sports event out there. Come on, how often do you see so many people gather and cheer on a bunch of kids? It’s such an exciting event and it brings out so much school spirit.
Not only that, but the tournament is so unpredictable it’s hilarious. People have a one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 chance of filling out a perfect bracket, depending on the tournament field, according to Sports Illustrated. I guess what I’m saying is there’s still a chance someone could pull it off.
I won’t dare try to pick who I think will win. I saw what happened when The Athletic’s Seth Davis prematurely tweeted “Virginia. Sharpie.” before the Cavaliers lost to UMBC and got roasted on Twitter. However, I will say this: Watch out for the low seeds. Loyola, Syracuse and Texas A&M University are all really good teams. If one of them catches fire — and they already have — the Elite Eight field might be even more exciting than the Sweet 16 field.
With three games left to go before the final two teams standing face off in San Antonio, college basketball fans will be in for a treat these next two weeks. Upsets are sure to continue and people will still be crumpling up brackets, if they haven’t already. This is going to be a fun ride. Enjoy every minute of it.