On Friday, I told you March Madness was just starting with the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Am I a rocket scientist? Goodness no. Could I have foreseen the incredible upsets that would follow Thursday’s action? Hell no. But the first day of the Big Dance was far too tame for almost everyone’s liking, so it wasn’t too shocking to see some of the craziest upsets and endings ever over the past three days in the tournament.
Many of the favorites to win it all did not even survive to the Sweet 16, most notably top seeds Virginia in the South Region and Xavier in the West. In fact, Arizona’s fall late Thursday seemed to set off a domino effect in the South that has since seen the top four seeds in that region all bow out early, leaving No. 5 Kentucky as the team to beat among others including No. 7 Nevada, No. 9 Kansas State and No. 11 Loyola-Chicago.
However, the biggest surprise to me was seeing defending champion North Carolina get blown out 86-65 by No. 7 seed Texas A&M as the No. 2 in the West on Sunday. Sure, there were bigger upsets such as No. 16 UMBC knocking out Virginia and No. 11 Syracuse edging No. 3 Michigan State in the Midwest. But the Tar Heels were never in the game, and that’s not how champions usually go home (even though I liked it).
So what’s next? The eight Sweet 16 matchups are set, and there will be at least one surprise team advancing to the Elite 8 between Nevada and Loyola. Other than that, another Cinderella in Syracuse has a monster challenge against No. 2 Duke in the Midwest while No. 1 Kansas also has a tough test versus No. 5 Clemson in that region. It is almost safe to say that the national champion will more than likely come from there or the East, where No. 1 seed Villanova has looked extremely impressive through the first two rounds. Almost.
Don’t forget to check back throughout the week for more betting tips, analysis and free picks on the Sweet 16!