4 Big Surprises From the NCAA Basketball Tournament’s First Weekend

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As the NCAA Tournament’s round of 64 kicked off on Thursday, expectations were high. The parity throughout the nation was at a very high level this season, and usually parity elicits upsets. That’s exactly what happened this past weekend. Teams that were thought to be national title contenders fell, and teams that most people barely even knew about advanced. In terms of upsets, no 5-seeds were safe (see Virginia Commonwealth, Cincinnati, and Oklahoma), excluding Saint Louis, which squeaked by their first-round game against North Carolina State.

The upsets continued into the round of 32. Even if the higher seeds held on, almost every game was close, further evidence of the nation’s parity. There were buzzer-beaters, late-game heroics, late-game collapses (usually by the losing teams), and just all-around exciting basketball. Not a single bracket entered in Warren Buffett’s Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge remains prefect — how could there be, with all these upsets? In case you missed the tournament’s first few rounds, here are four unexpected events from the opening weekend.

Source: Pete Souza / White House

1. Dayton to the Sweet 16

Eleventh-seeded Dayton started its Cinderella run in the opening round of the South Region, when the team took on in-state rival Ohio State — though most Buckeye fans probably wouldn’t call Dayton a rival — in the first round. Considering Ohio State was the 6-seed and had been a force in the Big Ten all season, Dayton was the supreme underdog. Even up to the final 3.8 seconds of their first-round game, the Flyers were the underdog. But that all changed when, trailing by one point, senior guard Vee Sanford hit a layup to secure the victory over Ohio State.

Dayton’s road to the Sweet 16 didn’t get any easier in the next round, either. They were tasked with the difficult job of playing a very athletic yet faltering Syracuse team that came in as the 3-seed. While Dayton prevailed again, it was a similarly bumpy path. Despite the final score reading 55-53 to Dayton, the Orange had two very good looks in their final possession — but they came up short, and Dayton advanced. The Flyers will be playing another member of this list (see next page) in the Sweet 16, and Dayton certainly has what it takes to continue its Cinderella run.

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