After one the most exciting weekends of sports each year, the madness that gave March its nickname has officially begun and the match-ups are set for the 2015 NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. Living up to the hype, March Madness provided basketball fans with a pretty epic prelude to the awaited round of 16, but the competition is just heating up. Considering only eight teams in the running for the crown after the two days of Sweet Sixteen match-ups, the drama is sure to continue.
Despite the typical excitement of the NCAA tournament, play in the Midwest Region has been relatively predictable. Championship favorite and undefeated contender, the Kentucky Wildcats cruised to a pair of easy victories en route to the Sweet Sixteen. As the team to beat, the University of Kentucky will look to continue its reign while the West Virginia Mountaineers attempt to pull of the biggest upset of the tournament. On the other hand, the third seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish won the “Battle of Indiana” against the Butler Bulldogs to stay in play, but will have to defeat a strong Wichita State Shockers team that has serious momentum after upsetting the second seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
All didn’t remain calm leading up to the Sweet Sixteen in the West Region, which provided what ranks among the most monumental upsets in recent March Madness history. Georgia State showed a glimpse of potential as this year’s Cinderella story at the Panthers pull off a last minute upset over the Baylor Bears courtesy of a game-winning three pointer from R.J. Hunter. Despite their huge victory, Georgia State’s run at the title ended in a loss to Xavier in the Round of 32. With the next round, the Xavier Musketeers will have to pull off an upset of its own when they take on the Arizona Wildcats, a very serious threat to take home the title this season. Atop the region, sits the dominant Wisconsin Badgers who may only be slightly challenged by a North Carolina Tar Heels team that barely survived the first round against Harvard and just missed the Sweet Sixteen after a second round win against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Continuing on the trend of insanity in NCAA basketball, the East Region suffered its own handful of the tournament’s legendary upsets and is officially wide open. Number one seeded Villanova Wildcats suffered an unforgettably devastating loss during the Round of 32 to NC State, leaving the top spot up for grabs. Following the number one team, the second-seeded Virginia Cavaliers also fell in the second round to a seemingly unstoppable Michigan State squad. With two Cinderella teams in the running, the East might just provide this year’s wildcard as the Spartans are favored to overtake the Oklahoma Sooners in the Sweet 16 and the NC State Wolfpack has the chance to pull off a miraculous victory over the defending champion Louisville Cardinals.
Contributing its own bit of commotion to the tournament, the South Region also featured a pair of colossal upsets. Number six team SMU was eliminated from the competition in the final seconds of a second round match-up with a controversial call against the UCLA Bruins. Although the Bruins are a team that many thought shouldn’t even be at the tournament, a goaltending call on Mustangs center Yanick Moreira gave UCLA the victory and eventually a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. Although the Iowa State Cyclones were also a popular Final Four pick, the predictions couldn’t have been more wrong. The Cyclones were stunned in the round of 64 by a persistent UAB team, who didn’t remain in the competition much longer. After UCLA went on to defeat UAB in the Round of 32, the Bruins now face an extremely tough Gonzaga team in their pursuit of the title. Since the first whistle of the Round of 64, the Duke Blue Devils proved they are serious contenders for a national title. The Blue Devils had two effortless wins on their way to a fourth round match-up against the fifth-ranked Utah Utes.
Don’t miss a second of the madness as thrill of the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament continues and a national champion begins to emerge. While the Kentucky Wildcats are still favored to take home the title, this basketball tournament is deemed March Madness for a reason. Just sixteen teams remain in the running and the competition is guaranteed to get fiercer as March comes to an end.