In the poetic words of the quadrophonic-Blaupunkt philosopher Ebby Calvin LaLoosh: “I want to give him the heat and announce my presence with authority!”
The opening weekend of the 2016 NCAA Tournament could not handle the “heat” or the “authority” that would be announced to us all between Thursday’s opening morning session games and the final horn of the last game on Sunday night.
From the very first tip-off, the looming quaff of embarrassment and humbling defeat filled the arenas as well as our TV sets. It was obvious that no higher seed was safe, no chair would be left un-turned, no dog un-scratched, no cat un-ignored (cause seriously, who gives a shit about cats) and no human being unimpressed.
Capped off with the MOST INCREDIBLE COMEBACK in the history of college basketball on Sunday when UNI lost a 12 point lead to Texas A&M in the last 40 seconds which ultimately lost them the game. This has LITERALLY never happened before:
But before we get too deep into Sunday, let’s talk about everything that lead to that culmination of cold-blooded-ness.
Thirteen total upsets (according to seeding) occurred in the first round of the tournament, matching the most ever in tournament history. If the 2-handed dunk by Cincinnati’s Octavius Ellis as time expired had been 1/16th of a second quicker, there would have Fourteen upsets in the first round of the tournament and cats and dogs would be living together in perfect harmony with humans as their pets as the world would be plummeting into an alternate reality (Trump’s poodle for President 2016 – Bark The Vote).
Middle Tennessee State took down Michigan State in the first round! Michigan State was the predicted NATIONAL champion of about one-quarter of ESPN and Yahoo! brackets submitted. Who the hell is Middle Tennessee State!?!?!? They’re the winningest college basketball program in the state of Tennessee over the last five years…….yes, I’m serious (123-49). That’s who the hell they are.
This year’s 10 wins by double-digit seeds is the most in NCAA tournament history (there were nine in 2001 and 2012) — this comes in the third year since the NCAA overhauled how it seeds the tournament (great work fellas) as it seeks to place teams where they naturally belong, bucking the trend of rules such as when conference teams can meet in the tourney, which often required movement of a team up or down (again, solid work guys).
Wichita State was a play-in game, but somehow after stomping Vanderbilt 70-50 they became an 11-seed and matched up with Arizona (6-seed) in the first round?? I STILL need someone smarter than me to explain that gorilla-math. How does a play-in game become an 11-seed? There are conference champs that are 14, 15 and 16-seeds?
But I digress, Wichita State shouldn’t have been a play-in game. They should have been an at-large bid and been seeded accordingly. They proved me right by handling Arizona (over-seeded) 65-55 in the first round. Only to meet there demise by an every-game-improving Miami Hurricane squad. Seriously, if you don’t know about Jim Larranaga’s boys down in South beach…..you’re on notice now. They’re the real deal, the next round will be heavyweight punch-fest with Villanova. I’m talking drunken-hillbilly-haymaker fight that lasts a week. Nothing but HUGE punches thrown and nobody going down (they can’t feel pain, cause drunk hillbillies are magical creatures….like Bridge-Trolls or Orcs).
Stephen F-ing Austin. Seriously, where the hell is this school? No one knows, even wikipedia has a giant question mark with a half-smiley face come up when you search for Stephen F. Austin. Yet somehow the 14-seeded Wrestle Mania fan-school beat 3-seeded West Virginia, who was EVERYONE’S “sleeper” Final Four team (ok, admittedly that was a big sub-reference for a bad and obvious joke, Wrestler: Steve Austin to University of Higher learning Sephen F. Austin, gimme a break, I don’t get paid much for this shit).
The 4th-seeded Cal got stoned and forgot to play against 13-seeded Hawaii. Two of the four total 14-seeds won in the first round, two of the four total 12-seeds won in the first round and one of the 15-seeds won in the first round. Ok, ok now I’m just sputtering out of control……reel it back in.
Second round action:
Notre Dame met up with Stephen F-ing Austin in round two (fight!), leading to another last minute, last second, last breath before death winning shot:
That was the only bucket of the game for Notre Dame freshman Rex Pflueger (?), who is averaging 2.5 ppg and hadn’t made a field goal in a game since the Fighting Irish’s regular season finale against NC State on March 5…….March…..(dramatic pause) Madness.
(7-seed) Wisconsin over (2-seed) Xavier made my head explode and even made Bill Murray look sadder than Chevy Chase:
The former greens-keeper turned pro, about to become the funniest meme in recent history:
FINALLY we’re to the Northern Iowa game. Ok, here’s the set-up: UNI won it’s previous two games with last second buzzer-beaters….read that again. They won they’re conference tournament with a last second buzzer beater:
Then they upset (6-seed) Texas with an UNBELIEVABLE half-court shot to win it:
Goosebumps. Straight goosebumps. Northern Iowa has more luck than the Irish and more piss and vinegar in their veins than an Italian bare-knuckle boxer.
Fast-forward to late Sunday afternoon, Northern Iowa is now taking on (3-seed) Texas A&M. The Panthers (awesome) are in control leading 69-57 with 44 seconds left in the game, looking like yet another giant-beater story is about to unfold. It was at this point that UNI decided to quit playing defense or rebound the ball or even inbound the ball safely. I’ll let the video speak for itself:
The Aggies made six field goals in the final 34 seconds of regulation, the same number they made in the entire first half. This lead to 2 overtimes and an eventual win for A&M, what will be forgotten is the fact that UNI had the game won in the first overtime and then lost 2 of their main players to fouls. But none of that will matter, this is now the “how to:” video example forever on how to NOT close out a game out correctly. Northern Iowa is the Shakespearean tragedy of a basketball team over the last 2 weeks:
The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
(as we all roll our eyes at the jarring amount of pretentiousness in quoting Shakespeare whilst talking college hoops)
An incredible first four days of the tournament, an UNREAL beginning to the greatest time of every year. Just like a terrible horror flick, I can’t wait to see what happens next.