Is your March Madness bracket busted? Maybe that’s a good thing : NPR
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Alchemy is required to create a strong March Madness frame. Only the right combination of random luck, passion for basketball, and intuition can predict what might happen when college kids go head-to-head on the national stage.
The winning mix is in short supply this year, with a series of wild endings.
GAME says that out of the 20,056,273 frame items on his website, none of them are perfect. Yahoo! says it only takes 24 games to ruin all the user’s frame entries. CBS Sports says the predictions on their website were quickly deleted for both the men’s and women’s tournaments – this has also been seen early disordersuch as Ole Miss shocking Stanford.
If your framework is too imperfect, don’t worry: so is everyone else. In fact NCAA says the chance of a perfect frame is 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 if you pick at random and 1 in 120.2 billion “if you know a little bit about basketball.”
But all of these broken brackets also suggest good things for college basketball. A series of inversions means that parity is alive and well, even in the age of conference-driven consolidation. And for fans who love the weaker teams, their affection is paying off at this year’s tournament.
Here is a summary of what happened in the tourney and what came next:
Team Cinderella makes history
Fairleigh Dickinson University became the second 16th seed ever to beat the 1st seed, by disqualifying Purdue. And yes, that makes them the second number 16 ever to win a single game in the Big Dance. They did it despite placing 68th overall; they must win a “First Four” game to reach 64th place.
But the FDU Knights clash with another history-making team. Florida Atlantic University won the first March Madness game against Memphis on Friday, and now it’s the Owls’ turn still dancing, making it to the first round of Sweet after taking FDU home, 78- 70, on Sunday night.
Favorite ‘Chalk’ wiped out
For the second time in three years, four of the top “blue-blooded” shows — North Carolina, Kansas, Duke and Kentucky — were not in the Sweet 16.
That aligns with the 2023 tournament, in which “chalk” – the betting term for the favorites – has been repeatedly erased and rewritten.
Of the eight games in this round, only three followed the NCAA bracket makers’ blueprint: No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 Gonzaga; and number 2 Texas and number 3 Xavier.
In a way, this year’s Sweet 16 is like 2021, when UCLA, Gonzaga, Alabama, Houston, Creighton and Arkansas all merged. That year’s champion, Baylor, was eliminated this year.
To find a recent NCAA champion in the current field, you have to go back 2014 winner UConn.
The Sweet 16 tips off Thursday
Photos Justin Edmonds/Getty
Four games will be played on both Thursday and Friday, with the first game taking place at 6:30 p.m. ET. Thursday’s first game pit No. 3 Kansas State vs No. 7 Michigan State on TBS. Next is:
Number 4 UConn vs Number 8 Arkansas at 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
4 Tennessee vs. 9 Florida Atlantic at 9 p.m. (TBS)
No. 2 UCLA vs No. 3 Gonzaga at 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
Friday game starts with No. 1 Alabama vs No. 5 San Diego State at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS. Next:
No. 1 Houston vs No. 5 Miami at 7:15 p.m. (CBS)
Number 6 Creighton vs No. 15 Princeton at 9 p.m. (TBS)
Number 2 Texas vs Number 3 Xavier at 9:45 p.m. (CBS)
The quarterfinals are set for Saturday, April 1, with the national championship match on Monday, April 3.
Tiger trying the crown
15th seed Princeton is currently the lowest-ranked team alive – and yes, we know: it’s one of those rare instances where this school finds itself on the wrong track due to statistical disparity. The Tigers beat 2nd seed Arizona in the first round before overtaking Missouri with a score of 78-63 on Saturday night.
Tom Russo/AP Photo
It was Princeton’s first time making the round of 16 of Sweet since 1967. Its coach, Mitch Henderson, played the point guard in some of the show’s most famous moments of the 1990s, including including the stunning disappointment of the defending UCLA champion in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament.
Princeton’s 2023 successful prediction percentage (1.86%) is lower than the percentage of recently accepted undergraduate applicants at Princeton (3.98 percent), based on NCAA.
This is the third year in a row that the 15th seed has made it to the round of 16. Other recent Cinderellas include Saint Peter’s – reach the Elite Eight last year – and Roberts’ mouth.
Follow the numbers
A little bit of simple math can tell at a glance how chaotic each match is, in a mainframe of 64 teams with four regions.
In the matches of the first round, all the seeds of the pairs have a total of 17 points: 1st team from each region against 16, etc., up to 8th team against 9.
If all the favorites advance to the second round, the total will be 9: Number 4 play number 5, etc. When you see the higher number, things went wrong.
For Sweet 16, the ideal number of favorites would be 5. But with the two #1 seeds disqualified, the math is everywhere. The most unlikely match has a total of 21, when 15 Princeton and 6 Creighton go head to head.