And just like that, it was done. The first round (that you care about) had some great moments, and for the most part it just what the seeders expected, but while it wasn't particularly upset laden, it was not particularly chalky, either.
In the end, their were seven upsets by seed, one of which was nine seeded Illinois winning. Given that nine seeds are actually slightly better than .500 in the first round, that's not much worth talking about. The real meat of the upset potential comes in the 11-16 seeds, the teams who lose a third of the time or more. On average, we get 4.25 such upsets, and we had just a little more than that this season: 5. That was mostly on the strength of the 11 seeds who dominated, winning at 3/4 games, to make up for the 12 seeds doing just a little worse than typical. Morehead State made sure 13 seeds did just about as well as average (just worse than one-in-four).
There were no big 14 over three upsets, but we got close. In the last game of the round, Indiana State closed to within four with just over 15 remaining in the second half, and Gus Johnson was screaming. Then things fell apart and Syracuse pulled away, and you could hear the boredom and disappointment in Gus's voice as a potentially memorable upset turned in to another high seed blowout, not even having the heart to call made shots or really seem to care when Scoop Jardine went down (he's fine apparently). Even without that big upset, though, we were above average in the upset department.
But just barely. Five is the lowest number possible to still be above average. Memorable tournament openings aren't just made by upsets. This was a first round sorely lacking in great finishes. After the first half of the first day, we didn't have a single game winning shot at the buzzer. Only five games today ended within single digits, with only Georgia, Villanova, and Memphis getting a chance to tie or win at the end of the game. Those games did all have great finishes, Texas managed to avoid a collapse, and Florida State-Texas A&M was great to watch outside of the last two minutes, but most games were over early, and only a couple ended in memorable fashion.
Few great games, few great finishes, and less than one 11-15 upset more than we get on average makes for merely an okay first round. There was tons to enjoy because there always is. Anyone who's new to March Madness, or even maybe doesn't follow every year, probably thought this was great. To that I would say March Madness itself is great, but compared to what the first two days of this event can offer, it wasn't much. At the very least this weekend is never entirely boring, and par for the course for an event that is never boring is still fun.
Of course, we've still got another round on Saturday and Sunday. It won't be quite the endless wall of games we've had the last two days, but 16 big games in a day is still plenty, and if they mostly involve the teams who look to be the best we may have fewer opportunities for a Cinderella, but we also have a better chance of great games to watch. Plus: guaranteed 12 or 13 seed in the Sweet 16!
SB Nation Dallas-Ft. Worth Staff Pool Standings: First Round
- Ponting 26 (184 Remaining)
- Code 25 (179 Remaining)
- Griffin 25 (141 Remaining)
- London 24 (174 Remaining)
- Perryman 23 (171 Remaining)
- Fittz (171 Remaining)
- Starkey 20 (168 Remaining)
Louisville is the only one of the top 16 seeds eliminated in round one, so unless you did something dumb like put them (and Utah State) in the Final Four, not a lot of damage done bracket-wise. Not a lot of second round casualties for our group, either. No one lost anything beyond their Sweet 16, with only Charlie losing Georgetown, Christopher losing Tennessee and Texas A&M, and J.P. losing Villanova.
By the way, those rankings from Ken Pomeroy I reference? If you simply built your bracket by picking the higher ranked team, you'd be 26/32 right now, with the only casualty of the Sweet 16 being the Cardinals. 26 points with 184 possible would be enough to tie you for first in the Lone Star Ball league, for example. Of course, if you're doing better than that, be glad you didn't. If you're not doing better than that, Rocky Mountain High can attest to how helpful his stuff is for picking games.