1. No. 15 Seeds beating No. 2 Seeds
This year, two No. 15 seeds beat out No. 2 seeds. No. 15 seeds have taken down No. 2 seeds only six times in tournament history, making this tournament one of the most unpredictable of all time. Duke (No. 2) lost horribly to Lehigh (No. 15) 70-75, while Norfolk State, a newcomer to the tournament, beat Missouri (No. 2) 86-84. Both of these games constituted the biggest upsets, not just in this year’s tournament, but in the tournament’s history. Many had expected Duke or Missouri to go on to the Final Four; instead, the teams were stopped cold in the their first matchups.
2. Louisville in the Final Four
Louisville, a No. 4 seed team, advanced to the Final Four. Although it lost to Kentucky 61-69 on Saturday, March 31, its strong showing in the tournament and place in the Final Four was not expected. Not only did it manage to conquer number one seed Michigan State 57-44 for the spot in the Final Four, but its consistency was shown in wins against No. 13 seed Davidson, 69-62, No. 5 seed New Mexico, 59-56, and No. 7 Florida, 72-68.
As a team, Louisville has become stronger throughout the season, something accentuated by the team’s victory against No. 1 seed Michigan State. Both teams had strong defensive efforts, but Louisville was able to pull off the victory thanks due to its bait-and-switch defensive strategy, which proved to wear out opposing players on Michigan State.
Throughout the season, Louisville also encountered many injuries: three season-ending knee injuries, many concussions and the absences of eight players who missed at least one game in an up-and-down year. The fact that it was able to move past these obstacles and make it to the Final Four demonstrates the team’s strong perseverance and determination.
Overall, Louisville making it to the Final Four was far from expected. Despite its loss against Kentucky, its coach Rick Pitino is proud of the team.
“Another banner goes up in the Louisville gym,” Pitino said in an interview. “And we’ll always be remembered by that.”
3. No. 13 Ohio playing against No.1 in Sweet 16
No one expected Ohio (No. 13) to make it to the Sweet 16. However, after beating No. 4 Michigan 65-60 and No. 12 South Florida 62-56, Ohio found itself playing No. 1 seed,University of North Carolina (UNC). Although it lost 65-73 in overtime, making so far in the tournament was unprecedented. In its game against UNC, Ohio played its best but couldn’t stand up to the offense of UNC center Tyler Zeller, who had a 20-point and 22-rebound game. The Ohio Bobcats played at the highest level during the tournament and definitely deserve recognition for the distance they traveled.