We see it every year but yet we are surprised when we witness them…
The Bracket Busters.
Bracket Busters are the reason why I retired from filling out brackets. The amount of stress that occurs during this weekend of basketball is enough to cause a heart attack.
In only two days, fans are already throwing their brackets in the dump, the same way they threw it in the dump last season, and the season before that one. To complete the perfect the bracket you must find those teams that will destroy your bracket and avoid the teams who are living a facade. No matter how much research you do, it’s never enough pick the right busters.
This will be my second year of retirement, and 2016 has made retirement much sweeter. Already we have seen four* upsets in the round of 64, one of which will go down as one of the biggest ever. As fans, we rarely pay attention to why these teams won, and often contribute their victories to just luck. Well, I’m going to give you "the recipe" to the biggest upsets of this season.
#15 Middle Tennessee State 90 #2 Michigan State 81
If I wasn’t in retirement, this game would have made me not watch the rest of the tournament because I would have picked the Spartans to come out of the East region. I’m sure this game destroyed 80% of the brackets out there. Tom Izzo and the Spartans have developed the reputation to be one the most trusted teams when making a bracket, no matter who was on the floor for Izzo, you knew they would at least reach the Sweet 16.
Coming into the tournament, fans and experts were upset and question the committee as to why they didn’t make the Spartans a #1 seed. They were the Big East champions, has a solid resume. They had POY candidate, Denzel Valentine, who some consider the best player in the country. So why did the Spartans lose to a team who hasn’t won in the first round since 1989?
The Blue Raiders shot 56% from behind the arc. They were 11-19 from three point land. All five starters scored in double figures, Reggie Upshaw leading the way with 21 points and 3 blocks. The Blue Raiders defense was stifling, holding Valentine to 13 points. Defense and excellent three point shooting were the reason why your bracket was busted.
#12 Yale 79 #5 Baylor 75
Baylor has been known for their size and athleticism, which essentially separates the Power 5 conference schools from the mid-majors. What made this upset not so surprising is that this was the 12 vs 5 matchup. In 2014 and 2013, the 12th seed advance to the round of 32 in three regions. The 12th seed has somewhat became the favorite in that matchup.
Also Baylor has become a team you can not trust in the tournament. Last season they were bumped by Georgia State in the first round as the #3 seed, so seeing them lose in the first round again for the second straight season, puts them in the do not trust category.
The Bulldogs just wanted to win the game more than the Bears. Despite the Bears size and athleticism, the Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 28-18. Baylor never held a lead in the second half and went down by as much as 13 (last lead was 23-21 7:21 in the 1st half). Makai Mason lead all scorers with 31 points. During a timeout, two players from Baylor had to be separated as the pressure started to build. The Bears was never mentally ready for this ballgame and Yale was, reason why your bracket is in flames.
#12 Arkansas Little Rock 85 #5 Purdue 83
I’m confident that a lot of people didn’t pick Purdue to make a deep run in the Midwest region, but for those of you that did, just use your bracket as toilet paper. This is not to say Purdue is a bad team but they had some holes and questions unanswered coming into the tournament. The one positive that would make anyone want to ride their wave is 7-foot center A.J Hammons.
Hammons contributed 15 points, 16 boards, and 6 blocks to the losing effort in double overtime but he wasn’t the best player on the court. This was probably the best game of the tournament so far, Little Rock coming back from down 49-63 with 4 minutes remaining in the second half, but for the Boilermakers it was a travesty.
Josh Hagins. I repeat, JOSH HAGINS. Hagins scored 21 points in the final 4 minutes of the second half and 10 minutes of overtime, finishing the game with 31. Hagins wasn’t the only reason why the Trojans defeated Purdue, Lis Shoshi also hit a clutch three pointer on that 21-7 run. The Trojans' star players were the difference makers in this game. Whenever a play was needed, the Trojans made it happen with their stars.
#13 Hawaii 77 #4 CAL 66
This was the only upset that I was correct on. Cal may have had the worst week that a team could have, heading into the NCAA Tournament. Just a few hours after the selection show, one of their assistant coaches was dismissed from the team because of sexual assault allegations. Two players were nursing injuries - Tyrone Wallace broke his hand in practice two days before the game and Jabari Byrd missed the game with pre-game back spasms. This was certainly not there recipe of success.
Jalen Brown may have played his final collegiate game but it wasn’t a pretty one. Brown went 1-6 and fouled out with 6 minutes remaining in the game.
The Warriors beat the Bears in almost every aspect of the game, except rebounding. The Warriors outscored the Bears in both halves. Stefan Jankovic, Quincy Smith, and Roderick Bobbitt combined, went 18/33 from the field (54%) and scored 52 points. This was Hawaii’s first tournament victory in school history and 28th win this season, the Rainbow Warriors may be inexperienced but they know how to win games.
#14 Stephen F. Austin 70#3 West Virginia 56
I think this loss is comparable to Michigan State. The Mountaineers made it to the Elite 8 last season, and was a Big 12 tournament finalist this year. On many people brackets, West Virginia probably made it as far as the Elite 8. It’s something about that thing called pressure though.
I’m not saying that the pressure was to much for the Mountaineers but they had one of their worst outings all season. Devin Williams led the team in scoring with 12 points, while only one other player scored in double-digits.
The Lumberjacks did the same thing that the Mountaineers do to other teams; a full court pressure defense that eventually takes the spirit out of a team. Late in the 2nd half, the Moutaineers turned the ball over three straight times in transition offense. Neither team shot the ball well, both shooting 31% from the field, but the Lumberjacks had the best player on the court. Thomas Walkup scored 33 points and went 19/20 at the free throw line. West Virginia had offensive troubles all season and this game was just the icing on the cake.