After the first weekend of the NCAA tournament, it’s safe to say that my bracket is a little off. But unexpected results are exactly what makes March Madness so exciting.
The action began early on Thursday, and the Sweet Sixteen wasn’t set until late on Sunday night. There have already been a number of highlights, and we still have another two weekends to look forward to.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest upsets thus far, as well as the teams that are performing just as predicted. Thanks to sports betting apps, my far-from-perfect bracket can be set aside while checking out the odds for the upcoming games.
Plus, we have more of our free-to-play game coming up this weekend!
I live for March Madness upsets. There’s nothing better than a Cinderella making a run in the tournament. And as a Louisville alum, you can guess I was extremely pleased by the biggest upset of the week.
The highlight of the first round was Saint Peter taking out the Kentucky Wildcats. Cats fans weren’t pleased with the early exit by Coach Calipari in a tournament where the team had loads of talent, including a potential national player of the year.
Three of the four 11-seeds won their first-round matchups. Notre Dame, Iowa State, and Michigan won, and two of them are in the Sweet Sixteen.
Two 12-seeds (New Mexico State and Richmond) won in the first round, only to be eliminated days later against their respective 4-seeds.
The Cinderella story of Saint Peter wasn’t finished after the first round. They went on to beat Murray State for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.
Only one top seed didn’t make it to the second weekend. Baylor ran into a hot North Carolina team, but made a late run that sent the game into overtime.
In my bracket, I had Tennessee making a run, especially after winning the SEC. I was surprised to see them lose to Michigan. Another 3-seed, Wisconsin, lost to Iowa State after struggling to advance against Colgate in the first round.
Bruce Pearl had a talented team this year at Auburn. This is another result that hurt my bracket. Miami has come out of nowhere!
Even though there have been some upsets, there are also several contenders that many expected to still be in the mix. These teams include several of the top coaches in college basketball.
No. 1 Seeds
Gonzaga, Kansas, and Arizona have all advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, but they all had scares in the second round.
TCU took Arizona to overtime. The Horned Frog had the ball in a tied game with 12 seconds left. Memphis put up a great fight against Gonzaga, and you can say the same about Creighton against Kansas.
Duke & Villanova
All eyes are on Coach K in his last season. Duke went up against Michigan State and Coach Izzo in the second round, making their sixth meeting in the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils were able to outlast the Spartans, keeping Coach K’s last season alive.
Another top coach in the tournament, Jay Wright, has led Villanova past Delaware and Ohio State. We all know what the Wildcats can do in March, and this is definitely a team to watch.
Sweet Sixteen Matchups & Betting Odds
The Sweet Sixteen will take place on Thursday, March 24th, and Friday, March 25th. Here is the lineup for each day and the spreads from Caesars Sportsbook.
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The first games tip-off just after 7 pm ET on the 24th and 25th.
- 4 Arkansas vs. 1 Gonzaga (-8.5)
- 11 Michigan vs. 2 Villanova (-5)
- 3 Texas Tech (-1) vs. 2 Duke
- 5 Houston vs. 1 Arizona (-2)
- 15 Saint Peter’s vs. 3 Purdue (-12.5)
- 4 Providence vs. 1 Kansas (-7.5)
- 8 North Carolina vs. 4 UCLA (-2)
- 11 Iowa State vs. 10 Miami FL (-2.5)
Elite Eight & Final Four Predictions
On Thursday, I have Gonzaga moving on against Arkansas. But it’s a close game, so they won’t cover the spread. Villanova will safely move by Michigan and cover the five points.
I think Coach K’s ride will move on to the Elite Eight, beating Texas Tech. The lone upset on Friday will be the Houston Cougars over the Arizona Wildcats.
Saint Peter’s run will end on Friday. Purdue will put an ending to the Cinderella story and cover the large spread. Miami will take care of Iowa State, a team that has struggled to score. The two upsets will be Providence over Kansas and North Carolina over UCLA.
My Final Four includes Gonzaga, Purdue, Providence, and Villanova.
March College Basketball Challenge
In our March College Basketball Challenge, we have asked six questions each day of the tournament. Two people got every question right on Thursday, each one receiving $500 for the correct predictions. Then, we saw another two participants correctly predict each question on Friday for the same result.
We will keep this going for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Each day will have questions regarding the spread, totals, and how many upsets will occur.
Congratulations to all of the winners thus far! We hope to see several more as March Madness continues!