Basketball

Winners & Losers from the 2022 NCAA Tournament First & Second Rounds

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The first weekend of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament has been better than advertised. There have been upsets by double-digit seeds, teams who were expected to win did not advance, and the Blue Bloods came back with a vengeance. After a year in which the tournament was resigned to one central location, the fans were happy to have the tournament all over the country.

When the tournament started on March 15, there were 68 teams all vying to be called National Champions, now as we stand, that field has been lowered to 16 teams. By the end of the weekend, the field will be cut to four. So, let’s look at the first two rounds and see who the winners and losers of the 2022 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament for the first weekend were. Let’s see who exemplified the meaning of March Madness.

Winners

Saint Peter’s Cinderella Run

How about those Peacocks? Saint Peter’s University, a school that enrolls around 3,500 students, has become the talk of the tournament. The Peacocks qualified for the NCAA Tournament by winning the MAAC Tournament as the #2 seed. Their first-round opponent? The two seed Kentucky Wildcats and Coach John Calipari.

Those Jersey boys were not scared as they pulled off the overtime upset over Kentucky and busted a lot of brackets in the process. They would go on to advance to the Sweet 16 with a win against seven seeded Murray State and became the third 15-seed to advance to the Sweet 16 in the past decade. The Peacocks will be looking to advance to the Elite 8 on Friday March 25th against Purdue.

Michigan Wolverines

Remember when analysts and fans were calling for Coach Juwan Howard’s job after his altercation with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard? Well, those critics are awfully quiet now after Michigan advanced to the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive season. The Wolverines defeated Colorado State in the Round of 64 and then took down the hot, 3rd-seeded Tennessee squad.

Led by a double-double performance from Hunter Dickinson, and 23 points from Eli Brooks, Michigan took down the SEC Tournament Champs. Dickinson and Brooks outscored the entire Volunteers roster in the second half, 33-21. Michigan upset the 3rd-seeded Tennessee 76-68 to advance to the Sweet 16 against the #2 seed Villanova. Maybe, the fans should stop using misguided incidents to discredit a coach and use what they do on the court.

The ACC

Didn’t analysts say that it was a down year for the ACC? When the NCAA Tournament was first announced, the Atlantic Coast Conference sent five teams to the Big Dance. As we head into the second weekend of action, three of those teams remain and are in good shape.

Miami upset #2 seed Auburn in blowout fashion to advance to the Sweet 16 (the Hurricanes were the 10-seed). In the first year of the Hubert Davis era in Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Tar Heels upset the #1 seed Baylor Bears in overtime after blowing a 25-point lead in the second half. The Duke Blue Devils, in the last tournament in the career of Coach K, defeated Cal State Fullerton and Michigan State to keep the farewell tour alive. The ACC is still one of the best conferences in college basketball and if things go smoothly, there could be an ACC Final Four matchup of epic proportions.

Losers

Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers were one of the favorites to make it to New Orleans for the Final Four. Who wouldn’t pick the Tigers based off a team led by Jabari Smith, a potential No.1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and Walker Kessler? So, it must have came as a shock when the Miami Hurricanes took full control of their matchup as they upset the Tigers 79-61.

Before the game, Vegas oddsmakers had Auburn as a 6.5-point favorite but throughout the game, it was obvious that the Tigers felt out of sync from the tip-off. Jabari Smith finished 3-of-16 shooting and Walker Kessler was 0-6 from the floor. The other sad thing was that Auburn was 5-26 from 3-point range which would have made a major difference in the final outcome of the game.

The SEC

The Big Ten conference had a rough first weekend with only two teams advancing but if we are talking about conferences that dropped the ball, the SEC is on top of that list. Six teams received invitations to the tournament, but only one remains. The Arkansas Razorbacks are the only team remaining and with a major task ahead against #1 seed Gonzaga, things look bleak for the self-proclaimed best conference in college sports.

While we are still talking about the SEC, both Kentucky and Auburn dropped the ball hard with massive bracket-busting upsets. Kentucky, while being the #2 seed was the first victim of the Saint Peter’s Cinderella run and lost in the first round for the first time in Coach Cal’s career. Meanwhile, #2 Auburn looked out of sorts in their upset loss to Miami (FL). In a conference with several deep-pocketed brand-name universities, having only one team left in the NCAA Tournament at this stage smells trouble brewing.

Critics of the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament

While the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament gets most of the headlines, we need to talk about how the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has been more madness than the Men’s tournament. Critics of Women’s Basketball may need to reconsider their hate.

The 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament has had its share of upsets and interesting stories. Perennial powers LSU, Baylor, and Iowa were upset by lower seeds, UCONN and NC State had trouble in their second-round matchups. At least South Carolina dominated in their two matchups’, allowing 54 points in total. Maybe the critics should watch women’s basketball since you have so much time to criticize the sport.

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