After perhaps the most underwhelming first day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in history, Friday delivered more than enough madness to make up for it.
Only four tmes in the 27 years since the tournament expanded to 64 (and now 68) teams had a 15th-seeded team knocked off a No. 2.
Friday, that happened in the span of a couple hours as Norfolk State topped perimeter-reliant Missouri and Lehigh eliminated Duke.
Here’s a quick recap of the action so far and a look ahead at the Round of 32:
Not many teams have worse karma surrounding them than No. 1 Syracuse. It almost carried over to its match-up with UNC-Asheville, which almost became the first 16 seed to advance in tournament history.
Syracuse may have survived for now, but look for them to depart the field prior to the Region final.
The rest of the field should feature three solid match-ups, with another potential big upset when red-hot No. 7 Gonzaga takes on No. 2 Ohio State.
Iowa State took care of defending champion Connecticut and will get rewarded with a date with this year’s favorite Kentucky.
The Cyclones will be big underdogs, but if Royce White has a big game, this could be an awful lot like another 8 vs. 1 match-up that featured an underdog school from Iowa against a prohibitive title favorite (see 2010: Northern Iowa vs. Kansas).
Lehigh stunned Duke to open up the bottom half of the bracket for No. 3 Baylor, which looks like it will need all of the help it can get after barely slipping past No. 14 South Dakota State.
North Carolina, Kansas and Georgetown took care of business, but the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh seeds weren’t as fortunate in the region with the most first-round upsets.
Regardless, none of those secondary teams had very strong Final Four cases, leaving most people’s brackets still intact beyond the opening games here.
Michigan State is a fairly shaky No. 1, leaving many people to scramble to Missouri.
So in my opinion the weakest region, or at least the most wide open, was blown even more so with the Norfolk upset.
The top-seeded Spartans could still very well advance, but I believe the winner of the tilt between No. 3 Marquette and No. 6 Murray State will have the best chance to advance to New Orleans.