March Madness has been underway all week and we have already seen some wild upsets in what has been a crazy first three days. And the thing is, it probably isn’t over yet as we head towards the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight. Get ready for a wild ride the rest of the way with lots more underdogs cashing on the betting lines.
No. 14 Mercer Over No. 3 Duke
The Atlantic Sun champions from Mercer took on the four-time national champs from Duke and attacked the Blue Devils from the opening tip, coming away with a 76-71 win in a score line that actually flattered Duke. The Bears shot a blistering 55.6% from the field while holding Duke to 35.5%, and Duke star freshman Jabari Parker had just 14 points as he struggled with foul trouble all game, although he did add seven rebounds. The Blue Devils have now been eliminated in the first round (technically, the second round, but we all know what it is) in two of the last three years. Don’t forget, the game was in Raleigh, which is Duke country.
No. 11 Dayton Over No. 3 Syracuse
Dayton’s win over Ohio State wasn’t a true upset as the Buckeyes have been up and down all season. But even though Syracuse had issues down the stretch, they were still a contender to win it all…until they ran into the Flyers, who defeated the Orangemen 55-53 in Buffalo in front of a pro-Syracuse. The key to beating ‘Cuse is hitting outside shots against the zone, and the Flyers were 7-of-16 from beyond the arc, while Syracuse missed all 10 of their three-point attempts. Outside of Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair (who combined to shoot 11-of-35 from the field), Syracuse didn’t get anything and now Dayton is off to the Sweet Sixteen.
No. 12 Stephen F. Austin Over No. 5 VCU
VCU has earned some credit over the last couple years with solid Tournament performances, and they were once the underdog. But this time, they were bitten by a four-point play at the end of regulation against Stephen F. Austin, who went on to edge the Rams 77-75 in overtime. Desmond Haymon sent the game to OT and dropped 17 points for the Lumberjacks, who overcame 16 turnovers by shooting 52.9% from the field while making 10 more free throws than VCU, the third No. 12 seed to go down over the first few days of the Tournament.
No. 12 North Dakota State Over No. 5 Oklahoma
Another No. 5 seed lost in overtime as the Sooners were rolled over by NDSU by a score of 80-75. Lawrence Alexander had the game of his life, pouring in 28 points, shooting 10-of-15 from the field and his three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining gave the Bison a lifeline. Cameron Clark fought back with 25 points for the Sooners, who shot just 34.7% from the floor and couldn’t take advantage of 15 turnovers by NDSU, who nailed 20 of their 22 free-throw attempts and never looked out of place against Oklahoma, yet another team that fell to the 12-5 curse of the NCAA Tournament.