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‘Madness’ ensues for basketball

March 27, 2008

With two rounds in the books and the first games of the Sweet Sixteen looming later on today, the NCAA tournament has been expectedly unexpected with its predictably unpredictable twists and turns.

March 20 was relatively calm with only one “minor” upset when super freshman Michael Beasley and his eleven-seeded Kansas State Wildcats surprised the six-seed USC Trojans. March 21 was defined by the more typical craziness that makes the madness this time of year particularly exciting.

Twelfth seeded Villanova dropped Clemson, and twelfth seeded Western Kentucky stunned Drake with a buzzer-beating three point shot. The 13 seeds of Siena and San Diego also stunned its opponents, Vanderbilt and Connecticut respectively. More shocking is the fact that all of these improbable upsets took place in the Tampa, Florida regional, one after another, all day long. When the smoke cleared six of the sixteen lower seeds in action last Friday advanced to the weekend.

The weekend was not short on drama either as seven-seed West Virginia sent the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils packing and the tenth-seeded Davidson came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the second-seeded Georgetown Hoyas behind sophomore Stephen Curry’s 30-point performance.

The result of all this madness is thousands upon thousands of angry bracket managers with busted brackets and a group of “Cinderella” teams matched up against the elite division I basketball programs on the national stage March 27 and March 28.

Western Kentucky matches up against one-seed UCLA at 8:40 Thursday, and Friday Davidson matches up against Wisconsin at 6:10 and Villanova takes on Kansas at 8:40.

These match ups create the potential for classic David versus Goliath glory. Davidson, Villanova and Western Kentucky all have the potential to be a 2008 version of 2006 George Mason, but also the possibility of a 2006 Wichita State. George Mason upset teams all the way to the final four in 2006 whereas Wichita State made a miraculous Sweet Sixteen run before losing to George Mason.

Whether the upsets continue or if powerhouses like Wisconsin, Kansas, and UCLA prevail, there has already been plenty of madness to go around.