Big Winners, Losers so far in March Madness

Winner: Villanova

Two-seed Villanova has been lights-out so far. They’ve crushed UNC Asheville by 30 (no surprise), and then turned around a hung 54 in the first half on Iowa. That game was way over by half-time, and the 19-point final score only shows that the wildcats played their bench most of the second half. They play Miami on Thursday.

Winner: Gonzaga

The story going around is that Gonzaga performs better as an underdog, but the data doesn’t really support that. Check this out:


Gonzaga, seeds and wins
Gonzaga, seeds and wins


As you can see, Gonzaga does about the same, regardless of seed, with a tiny trendline of higher-seed meaning more wins. But think about this, the higher your starting seed, the worse your early opponent is, or at least, is supposed to be.

This is a good Gonzaga team. Sabonis is for real, and Eric McClellan’s play can only be called a positive surprise for Bulldog fans. If he can keep is play at the elevation it’s been, Gonzaga could finally break through to the final four this year.

Winner: Taurean Prince

I know Baylor lost but Prince gets a big congratulations for his “snappy-answer-to-stupid-question” here. The interviewer should be embarrassed, and hopefully is.

Winner: the ACC

The ACC has six teams in the sweet sixteen: Notre Dame, Miami, Duke, UNC, Virginia and Syracuse. Thus far, the only team that has lost from the ACC  is Pitt. That’s a very impressive record, and shows the depth of their conference, especially considering Louisville was disqualified this year.

Loser: the Pac-12

Zona coach Sean Miller isn't the only Pac-12 big-wig sweating in 2016.
Zona coach Sean Miller isn’t the only Pac-12 big-wig sweating in 2016.

The Pac 12 was already the big loser of the CFB play-offs in 2016, as the only Power-5 conference left out. But with the way the Pac has acquitted itself so far in the NCAA tourney, the “Power” label may be worth re-examining. Let’s look at the results:

    • Perennial Pac-12 hoops power UCLA failed to make the tournament completely.
    • Four-seed California lost 66-77 to 13-seed Hawaii in the first round.
    • Six-seed Arizona lost 55-65 to 11-seed (and play-in-game participant) Wichita State, who immediately got beat by Miami.
    • Seven-seed Oregon State lost 65-75 to 10-seed VCU in the first round.
    • Eight-seed USC lost 69-70 to nine-seed Providence  in the first round, and Providence then turned around and got spanked 66-85 by UNC.
    • Three-seed Utah lost 59-82 to 11-seed Gonzaga in the round of 32.

This is exactly how not to defend an in-bounds with seconds-left. Ugh.

The only team still in the tournament from the Pac-12 is one-seed Oregon, who beat a Holy Cross team (from the Patriot League, in case you were wondering) with a losing record, and then followed it up with a close game against Saint Johns. Now they face a Duke team on a roll, and it’s not hard to imagine Duke winning that game.

Loser: Tom Izzo and Michigan State

MSU's Tom Izzo
MSU’s Tom Izzo

I like Tom Izzo (he seems like genuinely good guy) and get no pleasure from his failure, but boy did he fuck up my bracket: I had Sparty going all the way to the championship game. Instead, they lost to Middle Tennessee State (who?) in the first round, only the eighth time a two-seed has lost to a 15 seed. This was easily the biggest upset I’ve ever seen in the tourney, bar none.

Andrew Smith
About Andrew Smith 42 Articles
Editor-in-Chief Andrew Smith is a Seattle Native and University of Washington grad.

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