Upsets happen every year in March Madness, but the 2012 NCAA Tournament is well on its way to being the wildest dance ever.
Prognosticators felt that Missouri would face a stiff challenge against the Spartans, but those same critics all meant the Michigan State Spartans, and not those from Norfolk State.
Many also felt that Coack K’s squad had its share of vulnerabilities, but Duke losing to a 15-seed in its opening game? That was clearly a new low for a program so rich in history.
For most of us, including yours truly, upon filling out a bracket, the first thing we do is advance the #1 and #2 seeds through one game, leaving the 15 and 16 squads almost entirely ignored, much like the geeky kid that can’t get a Prom date or the last to be chosen on the hoops pick-up game.
Certainly, until the now famous date in history – March 16, 2012 – most were aware of the four schools to advance as #15 seeds, with Richmond paving the way as the first in 1991, followed by Santa Clara (1993), Coppin State (1997) and Hampton (2001).
But with no 15-seed advancing in 4,000-plus calendar days, it was an upset that no one felt comfortable writing in ink – or even pencil, for that matter.
Then, two celebrate in one night, leaving passionate basketball fans with a plethora of chances to watch the underdog succeed, starting with #16-seed UNC-Asheville, who threatened top-seeded Syracuse on Thursday, followed by the successes achieved by Norfolk State and Lehigh on Friday, among numerous others.
Two doorways have now cracked open, where the NCAA Tournament could see a 15-seed advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in its history.
That would make for quite a story!
Being a person that barely even batted an eyelash at either the Mountain Hawks or Spartans, it felt right to check each team’s resume from this season, exploring results of past and present, stats and other little nuggets of information to help try and help uncover the madness that has been presented to us.
Take the following details:
Lehigh Mountain Hawks
- The Mountain Hawks had previously reached the NCAA Tournament on four other occasions, with its closest matchup being an 87-73 loss to Temple in 1988.
- Before this year’s appearance, Lehigh also made the NCAA Tournament in 2010, losing to Kansas 90-74.
- To reach this year’s tournament, Lehigh won the Patriot League’s tournament as a two seed, knocking off 3-seed American in the semifinals and #1 seed Bucknell in the final.
Coack K likely didn’t need a warning from Tom Izzo, and Xavier won’t need it either on Sunday.
Norfolk State Spartans
- Norfolk State ranked 238th in the nation in total three-point shots made per game, with just 5.4 per contest. That’s often rare for a team entering with a low seed.
- The Spartans also ranked an abysmal 280th in the nation in free throw percentage (65.3%). In its 86-84 win over Missouri, the Spartans were 12-18 from the line (66.7%).
- Norfolk State’s assist turnover ratio was 0.78 during the season, which was only good for 283rd in the nation. Another shocking stat considering the quality of the opponent it defeated in the tournament.
- In its shocking win over Missouri, Norfolk State more than doubled its average for three-point field goals made, shooting 10 of 19 from behind the arc (52.6%).
Next up for Norfolk State are Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators, a team that like Missouri, is very balanced and potent, and also heavily relies on the three-point shot.
With two chances to see a 15-seed advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time ever, it’s obvious that countless basketball fans will be waiting and rooting on Cinderella to keep that slipper on for at least one more week.
After all, that’s what March Madness is all about – the underdog.
NCAA Tournament 2012: Which Number ONE Seed Will Lose First?
- Syracuse (67%, 2 Votes)
- North Carolina (33%, 1 Votes)
- Kentucky (0%, 0 Votes)
- Michigan State (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 3