Well, that was certainly an interesting first day of the NCAA Tournament, wasn’t it? By sheer luck, we wound up with 44 entries into the Otto’s Grove Self-Imposed Tournament Challenge, and at this point, less than half of them rank in the top 50% of all bracket entries on ESPN.com. Nice job, team!
Now, that being said, obviously everyone’s bracket was jacked up yesterday. After all, two 14-seeds won, while the trendy 12 and 13 seeds, Stephen F. Austin and Eastern Washington, both lost. UCLA, a team most people thought shouldn’t have been in the field in the first place, won as an 11-seed thanks to a particularly dubious goaltending call – on a three pointer. Did I say dubious? Let me repeat: dubious.
This is how screwy the first day of the NCAA Tournament was: yesterday, there were six games decided by a single point. In the entire history of the NCAA Tournament, the record for most one point games – throughout the entire tournament – is seven games. That is unbelievable.
And to make things even screwier? Right now, the bracket leading the Self-Imposed Bracket Challenge, titled “Who Cares,” got 13 of 16 first day picks correct. That’s perfectly respectable, and you’d think it would put that bracket in the middle of the pack in terms of national statistics. But nope – it’s currently in the 98.7th percentile!
On all of ESPN.com, as of last night there are 273 perfect brackets left. Out of how many, you ask? A staggering 11.57 million entries! By contrast, last year after the first day of the tournament, there were 18,471 perfect brackets after the first day of action. Even if you include the number of people who correctly picked 15 of the 16 games yesterday across all of ESPN.com’s Bracket Challenge, there are still only about 8,000 brackets.
So yeah, I think you could call Thursday one of the wildest, most unpredictable days in NCAA Tournament history. Imagine how much more unpredictable it might have been had Northeastern been able to actually get a shot off in the final seconds against Notre Dame, in what has to be one off the worst final possessions I’ve ever seen. Or how about if Harvard had managed to knock off North Carolina, which they so nearly did?
Now I admit, I filled out more than one bracket. The unofficial/official Otto’s Grove bracket is currently sitting in the 48.9th percentile, which puts it in a tie for 18th place in the Self-Imposed Bracket Challenge. That bracket was done in by Iowa State, Baylor, and Stephen F. Austin, all of which I’d picked to reach the Sweet Sixteen. In my second bracket, however, I’m happy to say I’m sitting in the 92.2nd percentile, and tied for second place in the Otto’s Grove standings.
Once again in that one, Iowa State screwed me over, while Eastern Washington let us all down. A moment for Eastern Washington: we all wanted to be Eastern Washington fans ever since the brackets were unveiled on Sunday. We knew they could knock off the over-seeded Georgetown Hoyas. We just knew it.
As it turns out, Eastern Washington actually kinda sucks. That was our bad.
The good news is that next up for the Hoyas is Utah, a team that has been cruising along with a pretty substantial lack of respect and recognition and, dammit, it’s time to hop on the Utes bandwagon, at least for the next round. On Saturday night, we are all Utah fans. Here’s hoping for a big win for Utah.
And finally, let’s cap things off with the absolute best moment of the first day, thanks to the dramatics of the moment, the fact that everyone at the bar where I was watching said “Nooo!” when the shot went up and erupted with a massive “YEEEES!” when the shot went in, and finally, for the unintentional hilarity of Ron Hunter, who had already injured himself while celebrating the conference championship, falling off of his stool when his son’s shot dropped through the net: