The 2nd Annual Bucket Squad Sports Reports (Your #1 Source for All Things Sports) Mega March Madness Matchup Monstrosity has officially come to a close as the NCAA Tournament crowned a 2023 national champion on Monday night.
In a tournament that was filled with thrilling finishes, astonishing upsets, and improbable outcomes, last night's championship game was a direct antithesis to the first 62 games of March Madness. The 4-seeded UConn Huskies successfully closed out one of the most dominant tournament runs in college basketball history with a 76-59 win over the 5-seeded San Diego State Aztecs in a game that was never all that close.
Sunday's final two games of the Elite 8 decided a winner of the 2nd Annual Bucket Squad Sports Reports (Your #1 Source for All Things Sports) Mega March Madness Matchup Monstrosity.
The first of the two games, (5) San Diego State vs. (6) Creighton, did not have any impact on our bracket challenge, but it was a thrilling affair that came down to a questionable shooting foul called on the Blue Jays with 1.2 seconds left. The Aztecs will dance into the Final Four for the first time in school history.
The first two games of the Elite 8 couldn't have been more different.
9-seed Florida Atlantic and 3-seed Kansas State battled it out in the first game of the evening. The teams were pretty even statistically in terms of shooting throughout the slugfest, but FAU dominated on the glass (44-22) while Kansas State won the turnover margin by ten. KSU guard Keyontae Johnson fouled out with just under three minutes to go in the game, and despite 30 points and 12 rebounds for Markquis Nowell, the Owls managed to get a stop on the game's final possession to advance to their first Final Four in school history.
The second half of the Sweet 16 games on Friday night put most of our challenge entrants' brackets out of their misery, crushing almost all hope for most of us to win the Mega March Madness Matchup Monstrosity crown.
For the first time in NCAA Tournament history, there will be no 1-seeds in the Elite 8. Both remaining 1-seeds and the top two teams in the field, Alabama and Houston, were bounced out of the tournament by five seeds: San Diego State and Miami. Both underdog teams benefitted from poor shooting by their opponents, Alabama in particular shooting just 3-27 (11%) from three. Miami, like many teams in this tournament, used a second half surge to propel them to a comfortable double-digit win over the Cougars.
Thursday's four games were anything but disappointing, unless you were a fan of any of the four teams that lost.
(7) Michigan State vs. (3) Kansas State was, in my opinion, the game of the tournament so far up until that point. It was back and forth the entire way in a very high-scoring affair, but K-State's star point guard, Markquis Nowell, proved to be too much for the Spartans in the end. He scored 20 points and tallied an NCAA Tournament record 19 assists. Nowell and Keyontae Johnson combined for 42 of the Wildcats' 98 in an overtime thriller to push Kansas State into their program's 13th Elite 8.
Sunday's Round of 32 games were loaded with upsets that wrecked havoc on the Mega March Madness Matchup Monstrosity collective brackets. Many brackets picked (2) Marquette, (3) Baylor, or (4) Indiana to make deeper runs, but all three were handled relatively easily by their lower-seeded opponents. The three other 3-seeds (Xavier, Kansas State, and Gonzaga) as well as (4) UConn all punched their ticket to the Sweet 16, as did (9) Florida Atlantic, who finally put down the 16-seed Cinderella, Fairleigh Dickinson. The teams with the most impressive performances of the day in my opinion were (4) UConn, (5) Miami, and (6) Creighton, who all appear to be able to make a real push for the Final Four as lower seeds.
Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament tipped off yesterday afternoon, and the eight Saturday games were packed full of action.
(5) San Diego State was the first to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 after routing (13) Furman following their unlikely upset over (4) Virginia in the opening round. The second game of the afternoon featured (4) Tennessee physically dominating (5) Duke en route to a rather surprising 65-52 victory on the back of Olivier Nkamhoua's game high 27 points. The Volunteers have suddenly become legitimate contenders for a trip to the Final Four in Houston after most people wrote them off following the season-ending injury to PG Zakai Zeigler a few weeks ago.
The second round of the NCAA Tournament got off to a rather slow start in the first half of the day with blowouts and mostly expected results, but the second half of the day was highlighted by (16) Fairleigh Dickinson's almost impossible, shocking upset of (1) Purdue. FDU was statistically one of the worst team's in college basketball, had the shortest team in Division I, and got in to the Big Dance on a technicality after losing their conference tournament to a team that was ineligible for the NCAA Tournament. A conference, which I might add, is the worst conference in D-I and had never won a tournament game previously.
FDU became just the second 16-seed ever to knock off a 1-seed, but it was just the beginning of drama last night. (5) Miami stormed back late against (12) Drake to prevent a potential upset bid from the Bulldogs, and (9) Florida Atlantic and (6) TCU both got to the rim on their final possessions to drop in game winners in the final seconds against (8) Memphis and (11) Arizona State, respectively.
Entering NCAA Tournament brackets into online contests is becoming an amazingly popular event each March, and the hype leading up to this year's 2nd Annual Bucket Squad Sports Reports (Your #1 Source for All Things Sports) Mega March Madness Matchup Monstrosity certainly did not disappoint. BSSR and ESPN combined to receive a whopping 20 million brackets in their respective bracket challenges this year, and out of all those entries, only 658 brackets (0.003%) remain perfect.
Most brackets were busted in the second game on Thursday when Virginia's seasoned point guard Kihei Clark unexpectedly threw an ill-advised, cross court pass after being trapped in the corner with mere seconds on the clock. Furman's big man intercepted the pass and kicked it ahead to JP Pegues, who knocked down a smooth three with two seconds on the clock to eventually win it for the 13-seed Paladins.
Bucket Squad Sports Reports (Your #1 Source for All Things Sports) is thrilled to announce the return of the Mega March Madness Matchup Monstrosity (presented by Bucket Squad Sports Reports (Your #1 Source for All Things Sports)). Just like last year, we will be awarding a $100 grand prize to whoever submits the most accurate bracket in our NCAA Tournament bracket challenge. You will also be immortalized in BSSR history in our BSSRMMMMM Hall of Champions.
Entering a bracket is absolutely free, and all you have to do is click HERE and vote for the team you think will win each game in the NCAA Tournament. All entrant information will be kept confidential except for your bracket name, which will be displayed on the challenge's leaderboard. There is a one (1) bracket limit per person and the deadline to enter is Thursday, March 16 at 12:00pm, just before the first round games tip off.