- Advertisement -
HomeBasketballNCAA BasketballLack of upsets in Men's NCAA Tournament not a bad thing

Lack of upsets in Men’s NCAA Tournament not a bad thing

- Advertisement -

I feel bad for the casual college basketball fan.

Upsets don’t happen in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as much as they once did. All of the metrics and information that’s available makes the likelihood of a Hampton/Iowa State situation very unlikely.

There were a couple of good upset moments in the first weekend of the tournament. Oakland (Michigan not California) knocked off a Kentucky team in a game seen as a shocker by many, but not if you wanted the Wildcats all year. Yale beat Auburn. North Carolina State made the Sweet Sixteen. The upsets weren’t as plentiful, but that didn’t temper the enthusiasm. This year’s tournament is among the most-watched in history.

That trend should continue with this weekend’s Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games.

The remaining field comprises many of the best teams in the country, and two teams from a conference that was sort of left for dead for much of the regular season. There’s intrigue across the board. We get a rematch of the 2023 National Title game when UCONN and San Diego State meet in an East Regional semi. The other East semi features the best defensive team in the country (Iowa State) and the best offensive team in the land (Illinois), according to KenPom.

The Midwest Region could be called the Breakthrough group. Purdue and Gonzaga meet in one semi. The Boilermakers haven’t been to the Final Four since 1980. Gonzaga has had great tournament success this millennium, even making it to two title games, but the Bulldogs have yet to cut down the nets. Tennessee and Creighton meet in the other Midwest semifinal. Volunteers coach Rick Barnes has more than 800 career wins, but just one Final Four appearance and it was 21 years ago. The Bluejays have started the last two seasons ranked in the top 10. Creighton last season got to its first Elite Eight, and has the personnel to go further.

The South Region could be viewed as the Party Crasher pod. Houston secured a No. 1 seed in its first year in the Big 12. The Cougars in a semifinal meet a Duke team that while talented has had its ups and downs in 2024. Marquette has had a really good season, but has fallen short in many of its biggest games so far. NC State remains on a helluva run, led by a MACK Truck in DJ Burns Jr. The Wolfpack finished the regular season on a 4-10 stretch after starting 13-4. NC State since the end of the regular season has won seven straight, including five in a row to win the ACC Tournament and steal the league’s automatic bid.

The West Region isn’t without spice, either.

The North Carolina/Alabama matchup features two of the most electric guards in the country in UNC’s RJ Davis and Bama’s Mark Sears. The game should be a track meet. The Tide has scored at least 100 points 10 times this year, and Bama on defense can easily give that up too. Arizona and Clemson meet in the other semi. That one is all about Tommy Lloyd and the Wildcats. Zona has been a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in each of Lloyd’s three years leading the team. The Wildcats haven’t gotten past the Sweet Sixteen since Lloyd took over. Wins by UNC and Arizona would set up a juicy matchup, as former Tar Heel and current Arizona guard Caleb Love would face his former team. Love in his first year in Tucson earned Pac-12 Player of the Year honors.

The names may not be as big as they once were, and there are a number of reasons for that. But this Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight weekend is shaping up to be one for the ages.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisment -

Most Popular