A plane, officiating, and upsets headline 1st weekend of NCAA Tournament

Tricia Pearson
March 21, 2017

Duke goes down as a tease, a disappointment, a team that could only occasionally put it all together but seemed destined to finish in the most predictably unpredictable way possible: losing a de facto road game against a team nearly nobody predicted would beat them. Louisville was also a two, Florida State a three, Notre Dame and UVA fives. However, I was impressed with how SC beat Marquette in the first round, and in church Sunday morning I mentioned to a friend that Duke could be in trouble. Virginia (by 26) and FSU (by 25) were unceremoniously bounced in the Round of 32. I'm not sold on Gonzaga, and I didn't think West Virginia's press would bother Notre Dame, which had reached the Elite Eight the past two years.

Another big upset came when #2 Louisville, lost their place to #7 MI. However, the financial implications for the conference are significant, and there's perhaps a loss of profile when your teams don't do as well too. Can you go back and get better?

The college hoops world is laughing at us now, and deservedly so. That has been a strength of this team all season long. The Wolverines shot 63 percent in the second half Sunday to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and bested one of the country's top teams without a strong performance from Derrick Walton Jr., who's been one of the nation's best point guards over the past month or so.

Plenty of theories are abounding.

I'll debunk that one.

It was supposedly a down year for the Big Ten.

Terry Maston scored 19 points, King McClure added 17 and Manu Lecomte scored all 12 of his points in the final 5 minutes for the Bears (27-7), who advanced to play Duke or SC in the Sweet 16.

The Big Ten always is better than it appears because league play is like one of those National Geographic features on animals that eat their young. Teams from mid-major conferences that were short on size and depth can use their experience to take down the big boys in a single-elimination game. The critics are right.

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Supreme Court would later agree, ruling for the first time that certain for-profit corporations have protected religious rights. One case pending before the court tests whether a bakery can refuse to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

"This will just be more fuel for us". The analytics are what they are.

Also with three teams are the Big 12 (Kansas, Baylor and West Virginia) and the Pac-12 (Arizona, Oregon and UCLA). It may not have showed in November or December. The Musketeers lost their final six games of the regular season without starting guard and second-leading scorer Edmond Sumner, who suffered a season-ending knee injury. It landed nine in the field, but the top half-dozen was all considered potential contenders to get to Glendale and be one of the last four standing.

In what felt and sounded like a home game, the Gamecocks knocked off Duke. The 6-foot-8 junior was able to score 19 by halftime in the opening game, though, and he followed that up with 15 more points-including the game-sealing dunk off of a turnover with 3.5 seconds left-to help the Heels escape against Arkansas.

Wake Forest was the only team to participate in a play-in game in Dayton, Ohio. Kudos to the Hokies for giving Wisconsin a better game than 'Nova did before bowing out. This was the first time a Duke team coached by Krzyzewski failed to get out of the first weekend after winning the ACC tournament. Michigan's upset is huge and proves that this plane crash may be the life changing event that brought this team together and put basketball in perspective.

Duke ... is a disappointment.

"They were able to cause some turnovers and get some easy buckets", Luke Kennard said. Our prognostications pointless. Villanova vs. Duke was the presumptive regional final matchup in the East. The Cavaliers had to play the Gators in Orlando, effectively a road game.

Write these all off as excuses, fine. He was one of many, including myself, who made an argument for the ACC going down in history.

And, while there may be some who might think it's not fair to create another bracket, just consider this: almost 19 million brackets entered ESPN's Tournament Challenge this year, the most popular such contest out there.

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