By: Bryan Dumas
How’s your bracket looking?? In the opening weekend of an NCAA tournament unlike any other, top seeds and perennial powerhouses have fallen at an alarming rate.
Some mention Old Dominion’s one point shocker over Notre Dame. Others look to St. Mary’s knocking off of #2 seed Villanova. Better yet was #14 seed Ohio dismantling Big East powerhouse Georgetown for the school’s first tournament win in 27 years.
Better than the upsets, better than the buzzer-beaters, was the “Cinderella story” of Northern Iowa that captivated the sports world over the weekend. Having lost only twice all season, loaded with veteran coaching and leadership, Kansas, the #1 team in America was the popular choice to win the championship and entered March Madness with tremendous momentum.
These are the kinds of games that TV analysts and office bracketologists alike gloss over and automatically assume the higher-ranked team will win. Anyone who knows anything about brackets knows that upsets are inevitable, but no one expected such a monumental upset to befall the “best team in the tournament.”
From the outset, UNI looked like a team unfazed by the loads of talent they faced, as they opened an early 10-2 lead. UNI didn’t relent and led all but 56 seconds of the first half. Ali Farokhmanesh, the hero of the game hit all four of his shots — three 3s — for 11 points to put UNI up 36-28 at halftime.
While those first half points were important, there was no bigger shot than the wide-open three Farokhmanesh hit with seconds remaining on the clock. The shot heard round the college basketball world, the shot that sank the mighty Jayhawks. The shot that proves with good guard play and a little bit of swagger, anything is possible in March Madness.
With the win, Northern Iowa became the first Missouri Valley squad to reach the Sweet 16 since Larry Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores did so way back in 1979, and now prepare to face a Michigan State team without one of its best players.
Congrats UNI for doing the unthinkable and further wrecking the brackets of sports fans everywhere. Man I love this time of year!