March Madness: The Time has Come
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 3:08pm
Are your Brackets filled out? The NCAA Tournament, and consequently March Madness, is now underway. Tuesday night the action began with, recently added, "play-in" games. Starting last year, this extra round of games expanded the tournament field from 65 to 68 teams. Last year, one of those extra three teams, 11 seed VCU, who would not have been in the tournament if not for the new format, made it all the way to the Final Four. Will it happen again? Probably not, but the fact that it could is the beauty of March Madness.
Normally these play-in games are nothing special, a bad team beating up on an even worse team. The two Tuesday night games started off as blowouts. In the first game 16 seed Miss. Valley State had a 16 point lead late in the second half, then they promptly blew the lead to Western Kentucky, the only team with a losing record in the tournament. 16 seed Western Kentucky wound up winning a close game 59-58. In the next game the 12 seed Iona Gaels had opened up a 25 point lead over the Brigham Young University Cougars, a fellow 12 seed, only to have BYU storm back and win 78-72.
If the first day of play is any indicator, this will be a dramatic tournament. But Wednesday night took some of the wind out of the sails. In the first game of the night the 16 seed Vermont Catamounts demolished the 16 seed Lamar Cardinals by a score of 71-59. Then, the University of South Florida, a 12 seed put on a spectacular defensive display against California, another 12 seed, holding the Golden Bears to a mere 13 first-half points. (Yeah, 13!) The second half wasn't quite as bad for Cal, but they still lost 65-54.
With the second round of NCAA Tournament play starting today, expect anything and everything to happen. Let the Madness begin!