The NCAA Tournament got off to a bit of an underwhelming start before some Cinderella stories began to emerge.
On Saturday, No. 9 seed Wichita St. bounced No. 1 seed Gonzaga in a shocking upset.
No. 13 La Salle, which had to win a play-in game just to make the field of 64, upset Kansas State in the first round and last night beat No. 12 seeded Ole Miss, fresh off their own upset of No. 5 seed Wisconsin.
No. 12 seed Oregon has won two games over fourth and fifth seeds to advance to the Sweet 16.
All of these results pale in comparison to the exploits of No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast.
The FGCU Eagles began the tournament by convincingly taking down No. 2 seed Georgetown.
Unlike every 15 seed winner before them, however, the Eagles continued their winning ways, defeating No. 7 seed San Diego State to become the first 15 seed in NCAA Tournament history to advance to the Sweet 16.
Though the Cinderella stories ruled the day, several other games were marred by questionable late-game calls that affected the final outcomes.
Ohio State benefited from this charge call while trailing by a point with under two minutes remaining against Iowa State. The call was questionable enough that CBS called in the NCAA Director of Officials who did little to confirm the legitimacy of the call, instead defending referees for having to make quick decisions. Ohio State made a last-second three pointer to win.
In La Salle’s victory over Ole Miss, La Salle took advantage of a no-call when Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson got smacked on his arm while attempting a shot in a tied game with only 32 seconds to play. La Salle went on to hit a game-winning layup on the next play.
Miami also barely squeaked by in their win over Illinois thanks to a missed call. Up only one point with 45 seconds left, a missed Illinois shot was knocked out of bounds on the rebound attempt by a Miami player, but the referees gave Miami the ball, saying an Illinois player had been the last to touch it. Miami was able to make free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
A very, very exciting few days. Just too bad that in several games the players didn’t decide the outcome so much as the officials did.