Getting the invite to the NCAA tournament is the goal of every team in Division 1 basketball at the start of the season. Some teams are never expected to end up there. Others, like Iowa State this year, are pressured to make it from day one because of all the talent they had on the roster.
This year’s ISU team was arguably the most talented that Head Coach Fred Hoiberg has had to work with to try and make a run in the national tournament. However, they were unable to advance past the round of 64. Last Thursday, ISU played the University of Alabama Birmingham. Iowa State was the clear favorite as the no. 3 seed playing the 14th seeded team in the South region of the NCAA tournament.
The team started out a little sluggish, and they just couldn’t get on top of UAB enough to put them away for good at any point. One could argue, and many TV personalities have, that it is Iowa State’s reputation for being a comeback team that cost them their run in the national tournament. On a stage of that magnitude, against the top teams in the nation, it is difficult to put start out behind and come back every time.
Now, many people thought it would be their downfall, but most thought it would come in the Sweet 16 round against Gonzaga or the Elite 8 against the most likely Final Four team from the south, the Duke Blue Devils.
The team, including star player Georges Niang, had some strong emotions after the loss. The Iowa State Daily reported:
“With all the expectations this team had and then you’re just bounced in the first game of the NCAA tournament, I just can’t tell you how terrible I feel,” Niang said.
Iowa State wasn’t the only upset that took place in the first week of the tournament. Baylor, Kansas, Villanova, SMU, and Providence all fell victim to lower seeded teams.
Overall, the biggest three upsets that upended brackets were Baylor losing to Georgia State, Iowa State losing to UAB, and Villanova losing to North Carolina State in the first two full days of the tournament, and Villanova, Kansas, and Virginia losing in the round of 32 further screwed up brackets.
ESPN reports that only 14 of the brackets filled out on their website are still perfect up to the Sweet 16. That’s 14 out of over 11 million. Winning the bracket pool is still possible if one picked just enough of the actual winners and end up with the overall winner at the end.
However screwed up the majority of the brackets are, many still have a saving grace. Kentucky is that saving grace. Kentucky, the only undefeated team in the regular season, is still in the tournament because they continue to play at the level that won them all of their games.
Not everyone is fully in love with the Kentucky reign of terror in Division 1 basketball this year, so not everyone has them winning the big dance.
One Simpsonian staff writer, Seth Albers, says, “Duke can win because of their great guard play like the University of Connecticut did a few years ago.”
So far the NCAA tournament truly has been Madness in March, and there is only more to come until it’s all over. Looking at the trend, though, puts Kentucky in the best position to take the cake this year.