The first weekend of the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments is in the books -- are you still alive in your office pool? Not if you took the Road to the Final Four less traveled.
If you went with the favorites, chances are you're sitting pretty. With the exception of the toothless male Badgers of Wisconsin, all first and second seeds in both tourneys advanced to the Sweet 16. That's not to say that a few high seeds didn't get a scare or that some middling seeds will never get a chance to germinate into full-blown Cinderellas, but overall, both tournaments are sticking to the script.
In the men's bracket, as we predicted, the only Bay Area entry, the Stanford Cardinal, slept through the first half of their game with Louisville like it was 8:00 AM World History en route to getting dropped by the Cardinals, 78-58. Meanwhile, the 11-seed Rams of Virginia Commonwealth gored a substandard Duke team, while sweethearts of the Big Dance Winthrop lived up to expectations by rolling Notre Dame like a barrel of lucky charms. All four seven seeds prevailed. Not counting the 8/9 matchups (we don't really count a nine seed beating an eight seed as an upset), there were only two upsets in the entire first round.
It's been tough for the little guys and gals in this year's NCAA basketball tournaments. Sweep the leg, Marist! Photo from Comedy-zone.net.
In the second round, another smattering of high seeds got whacked, but not many. Vanderbilt sewed up a victory over Washington State, and Butler graciously showed Maryland the door. Tennessee volunteered fourth-seeded Virginia for a loss and USC lassoed the Texas Longhorns, but that was about it. Erstwhile second seed Wisconsin is the highest seed to go down thus far and their conquerors, the Runnin' Rebels of UNLV, are the highest remaining seed at #7. Not exactly a banner year for the underdog.
A few high seeds did get pushed, but ultimately prevailed. In the first round, Oregon barely ducked a haymaker from Miami, Wisconsin came back from 18 down to swamp the Islanders of Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, and Virginia Tech had to do the Hokie-Pokie to fight past the 12th-seeded Illini. Over the weekend, defending champs Florida had to work hard to knock back the Boilermakers of Purdue, and the Michigan State Spartans did their best 300 impression before falling to the Tar Heels. Xavier dueled mightily with the Ohio State University, taking the Odens into overtime before succumbing 78-71.
For the record, of the 16 teams remaining, there are four #1 seeds, three #2 seeds, three #3 seeds, and one #4 seed. Three #5 seeds, a #6, and a #7 round out the remainder of the field. Once again, it looks like the powers that be knew what they were doing in setting the postseason matchups.
In the women's bracket, it was more of the same. Traditionally less upset-oriented than their male counterparts, the women's tourney has had some exciting moments thus far, but not many -- only three upsets in the first round.