March Madness : First Four & First Round


(SN Illustration)

March Madness starts off with Selection Sunday, where a selection committee of twelve members made up of athletic directors and conference commissioners within division 1 chose the ranking and play-in games of the NCAA.

After Texas A&M-CC and Pittsburgh won their play-in games on March 14th, becoming 16th and 11th seeds, they moved on to the First Round.  Texas A&M-CC was defeated in the First Round, 75-96, against the South's #1 seed, Alabama. Although Texas A&M-CC ended up getting out in the first round, Pittsburgh went on to upset Iowa St, 59-41. 

Going into the NCAA Pittsburg, 24-11, actually had a better record than the 6-seed Iowa St, 19-14. Because of this, many believed that Iowa St. should have been the team to play the play-in game instead of Pittsburgh. Though, looking at Iowa St., they play in the Big  12 Tournament as opposed to Pittsburgh which plays in the ACC Tournament. Both are difficult tournaments, yet the Big 12 is more difficult and more competitive than the ACC which when deciding placements in the NCAA is most likely taken into consideration. So, even though Iowa St. has a worse record, they also play in a harder tournament.

The last two play-in games ensued with FDU and Arizona St. coming out on top to continue on to the NCAA First Round as 16th and 11th seeds. Arizona St. went on to be defeated by TCU, but the game was played to the very end, tied 70-70, JaKobe Coles finalizes a layup. Making the score 72-70 with one second left to end the game. Though Arizona St. ended up losing the game wasn't expected to be that close as Arizona St. was a team that came into the NCAA through a play-in game. 

FDU went on to defeat the East's #1 seed, Purdue 63-58. This loss for Purdue came with a mix of emotions, many were surprised by the early defeat, while many others were not surprised by Purdue's loss as a result of their long history of choking in the NCAA early on. Nevertheless, it was still surprising that Purdue lost to a play-in team in the First Round as they were the #1 seed and had previously won the Big 10 Tournament, and won their conference championship. Purdue seems to not be able to play as well in the NCAA. After their loss against FDU, Purdue became the second team in NCAA history since their expansion to 64 teams in 1985 to be a #1 seed and lose to a #16 seed. 

The first team to ever lose to a #16 seed as a #1 seed in the NCAA was in 2018 when Virginia got blown out by UMBC in the first round. Knowing this and the fact that like Purdue, Virginia is also known to choke in the NCAA, makes the fact that Virginia a #4 seed lost to Furman a #13 seed this year a little less shocking. To Virginia's credit, they did end up only losing by one point, nevertheless, the loss is still one added to Virginia's failing history in the NCAA. 

As we're on the topic of teams renowned for choking early on in the NCAA, Arizona is surely one that shouldn't be left out. Arizona began its first and last NCAA 2023 game as a #2 seed in the South against Princeton, a #15 seed. Arizona was down the majority of the game and ended up losing 59-55.