As a Mizzou fan, I really just wanted shit to start getting weird once my Tigers dropped out. And weird it got. The day featured two 15-seeds, a 13, 12, and two 10’s all getting upsets………welcome to March. It should be noted that Belmont, JH’s Cinderella 2012 pick featured in Part 1 did not win.
Very quickly, we want to give you the basics on the Cinderella’s still at the Ball while making a few predictions so you can get back to watching more of the Round of 32.
NORFOLK STATE (15)
Norfolk State, champions of the MEAC, shocked 2-seed Mizzou 86-84. ESPN Stats & Info stated that Missouri was the 1st team in tournament history to make 10 3-pointers, shoot at least 50% from the field and have less than 10 turnovers…and lose. But Mizzou’s sadness is Norfolk’s happiness (and likely people affiliated with Lawrence, Kansas). Norfolk State was just the 5th 15-seed to ever knock off a 2-seed (soon to have more company). Norfolk State was a 21.5 point underdog. A moneyline bet on NSU paid out at 23 to 1. The huge upset was fueled by Kyle O’Quinn who had an incredible game finishing with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
The Spartans were 25-9 before the Big Dance started. The guys at SportsPickle were kind enough to point out, Norfolk State lost 68-36 to Illinois State as well as DII Elizabeth City State this year. Needless to say, things are looking up for Norfolk as they now face 7-seed Florida.
But Missouri loves company, which brings us to Lehigh….
Patriot League champion Lehigh knocked off 2 seed Duke 75-70 last night. They were led by C.J. McCollum who scored 30. The Mountain Hawks were just the 6th 15-seed to beat a 2-seed. They were a 12 point underdog and a money line bet on Lehigh paid out at roughly 7 to 1. For an excellent recap of the game, check out the article on ESPN. Our writer, Kyle Kamerbeek had a good take on the game however; “At least Coach K can start focusing on coaching up Team USA for the Summer Olympics.”
The Mountain Hawks were 26-7 going into the tournament. They average 76.2 ppg while allowing 65.1. They have one of the higher FT %’s in the country, shooting at 77.6% as a team from the line. They played two tournament teams previously, Michigan State and Iowa State, losing 81-90 and 77-86 respectively.
Going forward, they face fellow underdog 10-seed Xavier.
Ohio knocked off 4-seed Michigan 65-60 last night. Ohio got into the tournament through an automatic bid, having won the Mid American Conference. During their regular season Ohio went 27-7 and played two tournament teams. The Bobcats beat 16 seed UNC Asheville while lost to Louisville by 5 pts early in the season. Next up on the Bobcats’ list? 12-seed South Florida.
The South Florida Bulls, a play-in team, knocked off 5th seed Temple last night. South Florida was 22-13 this season and were projected to finish 14 out of 16 in the Big East this year. They shocked everyone with strong in-conference efforts and followed it up with a nice push so far in the tournament. As the handicappers at Book It have mentiosned, their slow rate of play allows them to throw off their opponent’s rhythm. ESPN Stats & Info points out that when USF meets Ohio it will be the 10th meeting of 12 and 13 seeds. The only 13 seed to come away with a win in those matchups was Valparaiso in 1998. Personally, I think USF continues their tournament run.
You may recall this team made the Final Four last year…..They are 29-6 on the year and play in the Colonial Athletic Association. We want to keep it brief on VCU since you’ve likely heard a lot about them last year (though the team is almost entirely different this year). VCU faces 4 seed Indiana tonight at 7:10 ET. Over at Book It, we think Shaka and his squad have a good chance at continuing their success in March and we hope we get to write more about the Rams.
I gotta say, I’m shocked the PAC-12 had a team that won a game. Colorado beat UNLV on Thursday. The Buffaloes went 23-11in the regular season. They face Baylor tonight at 8:40 ET. I think their run comes to an end here. If not, I’ll be sure to apologize for my brevity.
Another semi-Cinderella that I see time running out on is the Boilermakers of Purdue. They went 22-12 in the regular season and knocked off St. Mary’s in dramatic fashion yesterday.
Purdue now faces KU….good luck with that one.
Xavier was a team that got in the news early on this year when they got in an all out brawl with the Cincinnati Bearcats. Interestingly, those two teams could meet with a National Championship on the line. I doubt they will, but they could. The Musketeers were 22-12 in the regular season and came out of the Atlantic 10 Conference. To get to the round of 32, they knocked off Notre Dame.
As mentioned earlier, Xavier meets Lehigh in a game with huge Cinderella implications. I must admit, I’m pulling for Lehigh.
NC STATE (11)
Oddly, 11 seed NC state did not actually upset anyone. Vegas had NC State as a 3 point favorite despite the seeding. However, we will keep an eye on them anyways. NC state is playing with a lot of heart. You likely saw the clip on ESPN showing NC State hear they were the very last team admitted to the Big Dance. This team could go places. Never underestimate momentum and never underestimate desperation. They will face 3-seed Georgetown next.
On another interesting note, the entire East region has, thus far, gone by the books, with the “proper” seeds winning their first round game.