After a first weekend, I do not know anyone that still has a perfect bracket. In four days which personified the moniker "March Madness," there were more upsets then there have been seen in quite some time. Perhaps one of the biggest upsets being Northern Iowa's defeat of tournament top-seed Kansas in the second round on Saturday. Many of the "experts" said Kansas had the most difficult road to the Final Four, and it proved true, despite many still picking them to move on to the Final Four. That same Midwest Region saw Georgetown fall to #14 seed Ohio in the first round, and #5 Michigan State once again getting some magic come tourney time, beating #4 Maryland on a last-second shot. But perhaps the biggest surprises are coming out of the East Region where #12 Cornell has advanced to the Sweet 16, after defeating #5 Temple, and then #4 Wisconsin, handling both teams with ease. And also in the region, #11 Washington is in the Sweet 16 after beating #6 Marquette, and then handling #3 New Mexico.
This weekend's Sweet 16 features three double-digit seeds (Washington, Cornell, and St. Mary's) and a #9 seed in Northern Iowa. And there was the potential for one more, as Butler was barely able to hold off #13 Murray St., winning by two. But how far will these low seeds advance, and will any of them still be around come Friday night? Perhaps the greatest chance is for Northern Iowa to advance to the Elite 8, they did the unthinkable by defeating Kansas in the second round. They get Michigan State, a five seed who have had some struggles in their first two games, winning both by only a combined five points. But the Spartans have coach Tom Izzo, and can never be counted out no matter who the opponent.
The toughest road might be for Cornell, the Ivy League Champion, who dominated in the first weekend of the tournament. But so has their opponent, as Kentucky won by 29 in the first round over #16 East Tennessee State, and by 30 over #9 Wake Forest. Averaging 95 points in the first two games, and holding their opposition to 65.5 points, Kentucky may be the favorite now that Kansas is out of the tournament.
Also in the East region, Washington will take on #2 West Virginia, who won the Big East Tournament, and have won their first two games by a combined thirty-six points. As one of two teams left from the Big East, the so-called best conference in Men's College Basketball, West Virginia may have something to prove this weekend. The clock may tick midnight for Washington.
And the other double-digit seed left, St. Mary's, a team that flew across country to Providence, RI, and took down #7 Richmond in the first round, and were able to hold off a Villanova team that had struggled two days earlier against #15 Robert Morris. After watching St. Mary's last week, they have the ability to move on to the Elite 8, but have a tough task in #3 Baylor, who has played well early on.
With all the upsets last week, it would only seem right to even out this year's bracket, and bring some sanity back to the office pools this weekend, with more of the top seeds moving on. But as the first weekend proved, nothing is for certain, except that it should be an exciting slate of games.