After an insane 2020 when the NCAA Tournament was about to start but then had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, It is finally back. While the wait was *only* about 700 days or so, I feel like I've never had to wait that long for a sporting event in my life. It makes sense why the anticipation was unbearable for me, since March Madness is one of my favorite sporting events. I have always been very into filling out the brackets and running a bracket pool with my close friends. In recent years, I have also done an auction pool with friends where we get together and auction off all the teams, with payouts going to the person with the most wins, having Final Four teams, and having the National Champion. This year I had a few upset picks that actually came through, for the first time in what feels like forever. Here's how I picked them.
Oral Roberts was a small school in Oklahoma who received a 15 seed in the tournament and got a tough draw versus #2 seed Ohio State. I picked Oral Roberts to win, and they pulled it off. In my analysis of the team going into the game, I saw that they had the nation's leading scorer, and 2 other guys on their team who were shooting above 40% from 3 point range. I knew that having great shooters is always a great formula come March, as no matter who the team is playing being able to shoot is a fantastic equalizer. Oral Roberts beat Ohio State in the first round and went on to beat Florida in the second round, another huge upset. As of the time of writing, they lost to Arkansas last night in the Sweet 16 but had a good chance to win, as they were winning most of the game and missed a buzzer beater to win the game. What a Cinderella run that was, such an exciting team and brand of basketball.
Loyola (Chicago), the #8 seed in the Midwest region, would have been another popular pick of a team to make another run, unfrotunately for them they got a bad matchup being placed against Illinois in the 2nd round, who most people agreed was the 2nd or 3rd best team in the country. I saw through the forest a bit, and picked Loyola in a few brackets. After all, they had the magical run to the Final Four back in 2018 behind the strength of their defense and their hard-not-to-love 101 year old school nun named Sister Jean. Well, I happened to be right about them again this year and the slipper still fit! After beating Georgia Tech in the first round, Loyola played a near perfect game versus Illinois in the 2nd round and dominated them, winning by double digits. I have never seen defense that stifling or fundamental, it was masterful to watch. Unfortunately, Loyola ran out of gas versus Oregon State in the Sweet 16 matchup and the run ended early this year.