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The Year for Underdogs

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Written by Katherine Clatterbuck

Rooting for the underdog might seem like a crazy idea, unless you were creating your bracket for this year’s March Madness. The NCAA March Madness Tournament for men’s and women’s Basketball began on March 18th and March 21st, for men and women respectively. Teams were put in lockdown at various tournament sites and brackets were created by experts and fans alike. With 64 teams matching up in the first round, many were rooting for teams such as Ohio State, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Virginia. While these teams may have been ranked high, their performance last week ended many hopes for a perfect bracket. After 2nd seed Ohio State took a devastating loss to 15th seed Oral Roberts, 95% of brackets were incorrect as fans hoped to see Ohio State make it to the 2nd round. Ohio State was not the only team to experience a shocking upset in the first round. In total, 9 upsets ended the journey for many big-name teams such as the University of Tennessee, the University of Texas, and Purdue University. 

In the 2nd round, many fans were concerned about the potential for more upsets to occur. Fans were correct to worry as top teams like the University of Iowa, the University of Kansas, and the University of Illinois got knocked out. These three teams were ranked in the top 3 of their various divisions, ruining any perfect brackets left. 

Turning the attention to the women, upsets have also plagued their tournament. Low-ranking teams such as Wright State University (13th seed), Belmont University (12th seed), and Brigham Young University ( 11th seed) were the stars of major upsets. Wright State’s victory over 4th seed-Arkansas was the biggest upset in 9 years for the women’s tournament, bringing a lot of attention to the incredible work of these female athletes. 

The coronavirus has had a great effect on the state of our nation, a fact shining through at this year’s tournament. Many teams have experienced COVID-19 pauses, school lockdowns, and disappointing restrictions which have changed the core of the athletic experience. For the tournament specifically, there are restrictions on fan capacity, limited player interaction, and all teams are on lockdown within their various tournament hotels and arenas. Viewing this year’s March Madness as either disappointing or impressive, it is safe to say that it is different on most accounts. With such an exciting beginning, fans are patiently awaiting the victory of this year’s National Champions on March 4th and 5th.