The original field of 68 teams competing has been narrowed down to 16 teams left in the No. 2 seeds. All the top ranked seeds remain in the tournament, but with how the tournament has panned out this year and key players missing, this could change quickly.
Here are recaps of the two memorable upsets so far this tournament and number one seeds in danger of being knocked out.
No. 15 Norfolk State over No. 2 Missouri
Kyle O’Quinn has been Norfolk State’s leading scorer all year and knew that he would have to have a fantastic game to see his No. 15seeded Spartans continue their tournament run. This is exactly what O’Quinn did as he put up 26 points and 14 rebounds against the No. 2 seed Missouri Tigers.
Missouri had their chance to win towards the end of the game, but their last second three-pointer hit off the rim, giving Norfolk State an 86-84 victory in the opening round game. The Spartans surged ahead at the beginning of the game with a 15-7 start and were not rattled when the Tigers made the game close again. The game stayed close throughout, but then with 7:15 remaining, the Tigers pulled ahead 73-69. Norfolk continued battling and eventually retaking the lead and holding onto it for the rest of the game.
No. 15 Lehigh over No. 2 Duke
In one of the biggest upsets in recent years, small school, Lehigh University, ended tournament hopes for one of NCAA’s biggest basketball powerhouses. Duke University had a roster loaded with talent and was expected to easily advance into the second round. However, Junior C.J. McCollum and the pesky Mountain Hawks had different ideas. The Blue Devils had no answer for the speedy McCollum who lit up the scoreboard with 30 of Lehigh’s 75 points.
Lehigh led for most of the game, and gradually more Lehigh fans believed the team could pull off the upset. McCollum, who is a two-time Patriot League player of the year winner, stated that he believed Lehigh could upset the mighty Duke and, quite frankly, backed up his words with a stellar performance. Lehigh walked away with a 75-70 victory, but their tournament dreams were ended in the next round as they lost a close battle with Xavier.
No. 1 Seeds and Why They Could Lose:
UNC — North Carolina has looked solid throughout their tournament run so far, but in their last game against Creighton University, star point guard Kendall Marshall suffered a broken wrist after a nasty fall. The Tar Heels are forced to turn to some unproven, younger players as a result of his injury. Whether or not players step up will directly determine how far the Tar Heels will progress in the tournament.
Syracuse — The Orange suffered a crippling blow before the tournament was underway as they were told star center, Fab Melo, was ruled ineligible to play. Syracuse looked sloppy in their first round game and was nearly upset by No. 16 seed UNC-Asheville. The Orange put this game behind them and took care of business the next round, defeating a depleted Kansas State team. Whether Syracuse can continue to win against stronger opponents without their star is still yet to be seen and each game will give them a struggle.
Michigan State — Michigan State took care of business in the first round, defeating Long Island University 89-67. However, in the second round against Saint Louis, the Spartans were tested and escaped with a narrow 65-61 victory. Michigan State is very well coached but their team struggles shooting beyond the arch, which can hold them back at times. The Spartans are true to their mascot and are a battling team, but against a stronger team, they might not have enough.
Kentucky – This No. 1 overall seed has looked like the dominating force they have been all season. The Wild Cats walked all over play-in game winners, Western Kentucky, with an 81-66 victory. In their second round game, Kentucky started off slow, but then used a dominating second half to record an 87-71 win over Iowa State. The Wild Cats roster is loaded with NBA talent and one of the biggest problems with so many talented players is that there is only one ball to go around. With their current situation, the only fear the Wild Cats have is themselves and if they lose focus or become greedy, anything is possible.