Crackin’ pencils and breakin’ brackets

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 25, 2017

At first, it was the reactions of the NCAA March Madness Tournament teams that went viral after the bracket seeding was announced. Now, it’s the reactions of the nation that are gaining the attention after, yet again, another year of bracket-busting upsets.

March has once again proven itself to be mad, but this year has been one for the record books. Seeded at No. 11, Xavier had little confidence on its side. According to the ESPN Tournament Challenge, only 43.5 percent of brackets had the Musketeers advancing through the first game against Maryland. Then, for the people that did predict the team going to the round of 32, only 15.3 percent of brackets trusted Xavier to pass the athletic No. 3 Florida State Seminoles. And as if that isn’t crazy enough, only 3.2 percent of brackets had Xavier upsetting the Final Four favorite out of the West region, No. 2 Arizona.

Now, the Musketeers will face No. 1 Gonzaga for a spot neither team has reached in their respective histories.

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If Gonzaga wins, it will prove wrong all the naysayers that said the team did not deserved the No. 1 seed. However, if the Cinderella story continues for Xavier, it will prove 99.7 percent of the ESPN Tournament Challenge participants wrong.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 7 Michigan was inches away from upsetting the Oregon Ducks, but literally came up short in the last seconds of the game to give the No. 3 Ducks a spot in the Elite Eight. As for the rest of the Midwest region, no Cinderella can be found after Kansas routed the Purdue Boilermakers after going on a 73-33 run on their way to the Elite Eight.

As for the South region, a rematch brews between two of the tournament’s favorites for a spot in the Elite Eight while UNC and an undervalued Butler face off for the opposing spot.

In the East, a Cinderella spotting has been made after South Carolina beat the Las Vegas betting favorite Duke in a heated battle between the Carolinas.

My Final Four prediction for the tournament was biased, but also methodically strategized, which as we all know can be ruined in a matter of days. However, my prediction for the Final Four are Duke coming out of the East, which, as a Blue Devils fan from North Carolina, is a sensitive topic; Gonzaga coming out of the West; UCLA beating UNC to advance to the Final Four out of the South; and Kansas climbing its way to the top of the Midwest. Let’s see where the chips fall.