NCAA Tournament Notebook, March 26

Upsets, upsets, upsets

More than 8.15 million brackets were submitted to the Tournament Challenge, and by the end of Friday, there was not one perfect bracket remaining. Look no further than the West region as the reason.

It all began when No. 12 Ole Miss toppled No. 5 Wisconsin 57-46 thanks to the Badgers’ horrific shooting down the stretch and Marshall Henderson’s clutch 3-pointers for Ole Miss.

Many are a bit befuddled by Wichita State’s surprising push to the Sweet 16. The ninth-seeded Shockers powered by Pittsburgh in the opening round and outmuscled No. 1 Gonzaga to knock out the first No. 1 seed of the tournament. Wichita State will face No. 13 LaSalle for a trip to the Elite Eight.

Against all odds, No. 14 Harvard – which entered the Big Dance with zero tournament wins in program history – upset No. 3 New Mexico. The Crimson held the Lobos to just 37 percent shooting while putting forth a 52 percent effort themselves from the floor. Harvard then lost to No. 6 Arizona.

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast to Sweet 16

In the South region, No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast ruined plenty of brackets when it took care of business against Georgetown 78-68. The Hoyas, thought to be a safe bet for an Elite Eight appearance, had 14 turnovers, and Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr. was held to 5-of-17 from the field.

Last year, two No. 15 teams advanced to the third round, as Norfolk State defeated Missouri and Lehigh beat Duke. However, a No. 16 seed has yet to defeat a No. 1 seed.

Three No. 12 seeds advance

Of the four No. 12 seeds in the bracket, three pushed past their fifth-seeded foes. California, Oregon and Ole Miss all moved on to play another day. The fourth team, Akron, was obliterated by Virginia Commonwealth.

Basketball analysts and many fans believe these teams were seeded too low. Oregon won the Pac-12 conference tournament and had plenty of momentum heading into its opening match with Oklahoma State. Oregon knocked off the Cowboys and No. 4 Saint Louis, and the Ducks have a tough Sweet 16 matchup with Louisville this Friday.

Ole Miss won the SEC tournament by upsetting top-seeded Florida, and the Rebels found themselves in the same situation as the Ducks, another low-seeded team coming off an impressive conference tournament run.

Team of the Week

No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast

It’s safe to say nobody saw this run coming. The No. 15 Eagles are en route to the Sweet 16 to face in-state rival Florida on Friday. The team is taking advantage of its first-ever tournament appearance, especially after a disappointing season last year, when FGCU went 15-17 overall and 8-10 in the Atlantic Sun.

The Eagles beat heavily favored Georgetown on Friday to become the seventh No. 15 seed to advance past the first round. FGCU became the first No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet 16 when it glided past San Diego State on Sunday.

Will the Cinderella story continue against Billy Donovan and the talented Florida Gators? Based on the unexpected results from this weekend, don’t count the Eagles out just yet.

Game of the Week

Michigan State vs. Duke – Friday

This will be a matchup between two highly respected coaches – Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. The two coaches have combined for nearly 1,400 wins and 31 Sweet 16 appearances. The No. 2 Blue Devils hope to rebound from last year’s dismal tournament appearance, when they fell to No. 15 Lehigh. The Spartans have now advanced to the Sweet 16 in five of the last six seasons but would likely need to get past No. 1 Louisville if they hope to get to the Final Four.

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