Is your bracket broken? Join the club.
If your sheet wasn''t dismantled in the first weekend, chances are it was in the second as March Madness has lived up to its billing with one of the most exciting and upset-laden NCAA tournaments in recent memory, if not ever.
What started with a magnitude of double-digit upsets will end with a No. 5 seed in the championship game on Monday night. A pair of 5-seeds meet in the Final Four two nights earlier. It''s just the second time since the field was expanded to 64 teams that two teams seeded fifth or lower will meet in a national semifinal (2000).
That''s all fine and good, but what about that national championship matchup most of the country was looking for?
If the tournament had panned out according to seeding - and in case you''ve been under a rock, this tournament couldn''t have gone much further astray - a veteran-laden and NCAA tournament-tested Kansas Jayhawks team was on a collision course with the freshman phenoms at Kentucky.
Instead, both teams will be watching on TV.
The Jayhawks, the clear-cut favorites to cut down the nets in many analysts'' eyes, fell victim to the bracket-buster bug in just the second round in what will likely go down as the biggest upset in a bracket that''s chock full of them.
Sure, three teams with double-digit seeds made it just as far, but how many of them took out teams that seemed like legitimate picks to run the table? And while two five seeds in the Final Four seems like a crazy feat, the roads for Michigan State and Butler don''t look all that rocky in hindsight.
Instead, the biggest folly goes to Northern Iowa. Led by Ali Farokhmanesh, the Panthers dictated the pace of the game and looked like the better team throughout, dismantling Kansas every step of the way to win by two points and knock the favorites out before the Sweet Sixteen even rolled around.
Kentucky vs Kansas - 1,001 Simulations
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score|| |
|Kansas Jayhawks||72.3||78||Simulate Game|
Sherron Collins, a candidate for national Player of the Year who was supposed to help lead the Jayhawks to another championship, made just 4 of 15 shots for 10 points and turned the ball over five times and forced many around the country to rip their brackets in half.
In Kentucky''s case, the argument can certainly be made that there was no upset at all.
Many had argued the case for West Virginia to have received a No. 1 seed when the tournament started, though that didn''t mean that the Wildcats were underdogs whatsoever when they ran into the Mountaineers in a Regional Final game this past weekend.
West Virginia couldn''t seem to miss from beyond the arc in the first half - and coincidentally didn''t make a first-half bucket from inside of it - while Kentucky couldn''t buy a basket from 3-point range.
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Potential No. 1 overall NBA pick John Wall performed admirably with 19 points, but was outdone by Joe Mazzulla, a backup point guard whose career was supposed to be all but over.
Instead, Mazzulla will play this weekend in the Final Four.
But what if the nation, including its president, got the matchup it was looking for on Monday? The veterans or the rookies? KU or UK?
That''s what we''re here for.
Chalk one up for the youth, but only over the first 20 minutes. Down the stretch, hand it to the favorites.
Kentucky capitalized from deep early on, making its first 3-point basket on its very first try while jumping out to the early lead.
The Wildcats led by as much as seven points in the opening half and held on for a three-point advantage at the break as coach John Calipari looked to avenge a 2008 loss in the title game with his new team.
From there, it was back and forth all the way to the seven-minute mark in the game as the teams traded blows and kept would-be bracket champions everywhere on the edge of their seats.
But, leading 60-59 with seven minutes to go, the Jayhawks took over from there.
Tyrel Reed and Markieff Morris came off the bench and buried a pair of 3-pointers that sparked an 8-0 run and the Jayhawks never looked back in a 76-67 victory over the youngsters of UK.
Wall scored 17 points but needed 16 field goal attempts to do so, while Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins each came up just shy of a double-double.
And while the game might have been billed as veterans against rookies, it was a Kansas youngster who made the biggest difference. Xavier Henry scored a game-high 20 points and handed out five assists, outscoring Collins and Cole Aldrich, who combined for just 16 points.
It might not fix the bracket woes of those of you who had Kansas to win it all, but let''s face it, just about everyone has put their bracket through the shredder by now.
If you have any questions, comments or just want to talk sports, shoot us an email at BtB@whatifsports.com.
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