Two days of tournament games down, and the field has been pared down to 32. As always, there have been some great upsets. However, I think the first round of this year's tournament will be remembered for all the near misses.
Well, maybe that and the extend to which the smaller conferences have come to play:
- Northwestern State, from Louisiana (I had to look that up), in the shocker of the day took out a solid Iowa team that was the runner-up in the #1 conference by RPI.
- Bradley took out a young, but talented Kansas team.
- Montana took out former rival and up-and-comer Nevada.
- Wisconsin-Milwaukee took out a decent Oklahoma while proving that last year's run to the Sweet 16 was not a fluke.
- George Mason proved it belonged after dispatching Michigan State, even after having it's best player suspended for the game.
- Bucknell won in the first round for the second straight year, this time eliminating Arkansas.
And those are just the teams that got it done. Many other teams took their highly-favored opponents to the wire:
- Albany gave UConn a scare before the Huskies put a run together.
- Ohio State spent all day fighting off Davidson.
- Winthrop only lost to Tennessee on a last-second desperation shot.
It's taken time, and it will continue, but we are finally beginning to see true parity in college hoops. Well-known schools are having a hard time keeping talent around for more than a few years, while smaller schools are finding better coaches and giving borderline prospects more opportunities. It's a great thing to see, and hopefully it will continue in the future!
As for my bracket? I'm doing pretty good, all things considered. I've been watching the rise of these other conferences, so I had some guesses as to some of the "upsets". I'll update you once we hit the Sweet 16!