Shocks Galore In The NCCAB Tournament As Champions Exit In Round 2
March Madness, as it has become known colloquially, is the name many people use to describe the NCAA College Basketball Tournament that takes place every year throughout March and into April.
A total of 68 of the best College teams are selected by a panel of experts to compete in the event, eight in the First Four and then the four winners join the 60 teams seeded into the First Round proper.
The 64 teams are drawn into four separate brackets, East, West, South and Midwest, with 16 teams in each and one team will make it through the bracket to reach the semifinals of the tournament, or the Final Four as it is known.
Part of the tradition of the tournament is that each round has a name. The third round is known as the Sweet 16 as just 16 teams remain in the tournament. This is followed by the Elite Eight (quarterfinals) and then the Final Four (semi finals).
The tournament is the highlight of the College Basketball season and at the end of it, new National Champions will be crowned. Last year, that was the Baylor Bears who defied expectations to beat Gonzaga in the final.
Many of the top college prospects will then go on to be picked up by the top teams in the NBA in the forthcoming NBA Draft, which will take place later this year.
Bet365 Sport offers a great selection of bets on the games, including the option to bet on the winner of each game on the popular spread, total and money line markets, plus around 150 other bets you can make on each game.
And of course, you can still bet on who will win the tournament, with bet365 offering 9/4 on the favourites Gonzaga at present.
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Let’s now take a closer look at this year’s tournament, with a particular focus on some of the many shock results that have taken place in the first and second rounds.
First Round Highlights
The first round of the tournament saw a number of the big teams make easy progress. Baylor thrashed Norfolk State in their opening game and Gonzaga were comfortable winners over Georgia State. The other top seeds from each bracket, Kansas and Arizona also won comfortably.
However, there were also some huge surprised such as #15 seed Saint Peter’s stunning Kentucky 85-79, New Mexico State (12) defeated fifth seed Connecticut, 12th seed Richmond bettered Iowa (5) and 11th seed Notre Dame, who had to qualify via the First Four games, defeated sixth seed Alabama.
Other teams that landed surprise wins over higher ranked opponents include Iowa State, who defeated LSU, TCU who got the better of Seton Hall, and Miami Florida, who edged out USC in a tense first round game.
Michigan, Memphis and Creighton also all landed wins against better ranked opponents as the first round provided us with a huge number of surprise results this year.
Second Round Surprises
The second round began last weekend and featured 4 games in each of the four brackets and there were surprises galore across the 16 games that took place.
Without doubt the biggest shock came when 8th seed UNC bettered top seed and last year’s Champions Baylor Bears 93-86 in overtime after one of the most incredible March Madness games in years.
However more shocks were to follow as the much fancied and previously in form Tennessee Vols went down to a 76-68 defeat to Michigan, and then on Sunday, Saint Peter’s incredible run of form continued as the 15th seed knocked out 7th seed Murray State.
Houston bettered Illinois as the 5th seed topped the 4th in that game, but another couple of big surprise wins were on the cards as third seed Wisconsin were defeated 54-49 by an Iowa State team that the season before this one had a 2-22 record and finished the season with 18 straight defeats.
Then there was another huge shock when Auburn, one of the second seeds, were well beaten by a hugely impressive Miami Florida performance, with the Hurricanes racking up their second win over a lower ranked team in the tournament.
Not all second-round games ended in shock wins though. Top seeds Kansas, Gonzaga and Arizona did make it through whle the much fancied Duke also progressed, as did other well-backed teams to win the tournament Texas Tech, Purdue, Villanova, UCLA and Providence.
Sweet Sixteen Fixtures, Preview And Tips
So where does that leave us in terms of the Sweet 16 games which get underway on Thursday evening UK time this week?
Well, the full set of Sweet 16 ties is as follows:
- Gonzaga (1) v Arkansas (4) – West
- Duke (2) v Texas Tech (3) – West
The West is the only bracket that has gone to form with all of the top four seeds reaching the Sweet 16 round. Gonzaga remain the favourites to make it through the Final Four here and they should beat Arkansas.
However the Duke v Texas Tech game is a massive one and both teams will feel that they could topple Gonzaga in the Elite Eight should they come through this game. I’m backing Gonzaga and Duke to make it through here.
- Purdue (3) v Saint Peters (15) – East
- UCLA (4) v UNC (8) – East
The top two seeds Baylor and Kentucky have both been eliminated from this bracket with Saint Peters the lowest ranked team still in the tournament and UNC proving their quality in that victory over top seed Baylor Bears.
That said, UCLA always seem to get their timing right to produce the goods in this tournament and I think Purdue will also be too strong for Saint Peters, so I am backing the top two seeds to progress here too.
- Villanova (2) v Michigan (11) – South
- Arizona (1) v Houston (5) – South
Michigan and Houston have done well to make it this far in the tournament, but I do feel that this is the stage at which both will depart. I think Arizona will see off Houston, while I would expect Villanova to do likewise against Michigan.
But, if there is going to be another big surprise in the Sweet 16 round, then I think the Michigan v Villanova is the game where it could most likely happen as the Wolverines have looked excellent in the tournament so far and could spring a surprise if Villanova’s intensity drops.
- Kansas (1) v Providence (4) – Midwest
- Miami FL (10) v Iowa State (11) – Midwest
Iowa State’s remarkable turnaround from a 2-20 franchise last season to a Sweet 16 team this year is remarkable, but so too is Miami FL superb run and I think the Hurricane will edge this one between the two underdogs in this bracket.
Kansas should have enough to get the better of Providence in the other game in the Midwest bracket but that could be a very close run thing.
Who Could Win The Tournament?
I think it is hard to look past the West bracket for the winner as in my opinion, this bracket has three teams, Gonzaga, Duke and Texas Tech all well-capable of winning the tournament. Arizona, Kansas and UCLA may also fancy their chances but I backed Duke at the start of the season and I am not going to change that.
Duke are 13/1 to win the tournament with bet365 Sport at the moment.