NCAA Midwest Region First Round Recap: Throw out the Logic
Well, the Midwest has panned out just like we all thought it would. Nothing abnormal about it, everyone who was favored won easily. Sounds pretty boring, huh? In a way, I wish I was writing an article like that. Instead, we are left with one of the most chaotic regions in the tournament. 5 of the 8 top seeds went down in the first round, and the arguably the biggest upset in tournament history happened when #15 seed Middle Tennessee State took down the mighty #2 seeded Michigan State Spartans. Millions of fans pencil in their picks every year, and the die-hards such as myself always think we have a shot at the elusive perfect bracket. The truth is, we can’t be perfect. The die-hards make their picks with sound logic and deductive reasoning. The problem with that? The NCAA tournament doesn’t like logic, it enjoys illogical torture which leaves us to wonder how in the world this team lost to that team. The Michigan State Spartans would probably beat a team like Middle Tennessee State 99 out of 100 times. The Blue Raiders are elated that the one time out of 100 came on Friday afternoon. Even the stats don’t add up on this win. Michigan State shot 55 percent from the field and 45 percent from three point range. They out rebounded and out assisted Middle Tennessee. So what were the problems? Turnovers, fouls, and, oh yeah, Middle Tennessee couldn’t miss. The Blue Raiders went on runs where they could throw an exercise ball into a jar of peanut butter and it would still go in. While they shot 58 percent from three for the game, really, they just found a way to win. Every time Sparty made a shot, Middle Tennessee would make one. After getting out to a 15-2 lead after the first four minutes, all you have to do is match your opponent and you’ll be sitting pretty. That’s what Middle Tennessee did, they never trailed in the game, and now they have the distinction of the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history. This is only the 8th time a 15 seed has defeated a 2 seed in NCAA history, but according to many, Michigan State should have been a number one seed. Of course, there were other key games as well. And, of course, the two teams I highlighted on the preview article both lost their opening round matchup. Because, why win when losing is so much easier, right? It’s frustrating when teams with so much talent just forget how to play basketball at the biggest moment of their life. That’s right, I’m talking to you, Isaiah Whitehead. Seton Hall lost big to Gonzaga on Thursday night mainly because of the ineptitude of Whitehead. Whitehead made just 4 of his 24 shots, and was 0/10 from three. He finished with 10 points, and the sad part is that he was their leading scorer. Seton Hall as a team shot only 32 percent from the field and 19 percent from three. Seriously one of the most disappointing tournament performances I’ve seen in a long time. And a message to Whitehead: Don’t you realize by about shot #15 that they aren’t going in? Did you really have to throw up those last nine bricks? I guess the joke is on me, because Whitehead has officially declared for the NBA draft following the loss. Although if I were NBA scouts, I’d do my homework on this guy. He’s not leaving a good taste in my mouth after that performance. The other team I highlighted in the preview article was Purdue. Of course it’s fitting that they lost, because they’re a great team that I raved about all year. Go figure, right? I will credit Arkansas Little Rock, because they made a hell of a comeback and when most of us thought the game was over. With just 3:33 left, Purdue led by 13 and were cruising to the round of 32. And then, Josh Hagins came alive. A few things here. First off, how Hagins made that jumper at the end of regulation, I’ll never know. Add that clip to the many examples of how there’s just something magical about March. Second, I’ll never know what the hell was going through the mind of Vince Edwards at the end of regulation. Sure, he led the team in scoring, but he also led the team in stupidity and terrible last second heaves. Seriously, did you see that last desperation shot at the end of double overtime? He nearly hit his own bench. Too many things went wrong for Purdue, and Josh Hagins would not be denied a trip to the second round. I’ll run through the other results that took place in this region of madness. Iowa State took down Iona with ease, as they literally couldn’t miss. At least, it seemed that way. Iowa State shot 50 percent for the game, and also 10/22 from three. Iowa State avenged their first round loss from a year ago, and are one of the few favorites who actually moved on from this region. Syracuse shut down Dayton to the tune 32 percent shooting, and Dayton missed 14 layups/dunks in the game. The zone defense of the Orange proves to continue to be a challenge for teams as Syracuse moves on to the round of 32. Also, Utah easily took down Fresno State, as Jakob Poeltl out rebounded the entire Fresno State team 18-15. The overall rebound difference between the teams was 38-15. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more lopsided rebound battle, and yet Utah only won by 11. Virginia and Butler also won their first round matchups in non-noteworthy fashion. The two teams play Saturday, which should set up a boring old game between teams in the boring old region. If you believe that last sentence, you obviously skimmed through this article. There’s nothing quite like the round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament, but it’ll be interesting to see the drama which is produced from the round of 32.