This March has effectively been the maddest March I’ve ever witnessed, but the Kentucky Wildcats have survived and thrived.
We as fans saw things we never thought were possible over this St. Paddy’s weekend. The No. 1 overall team in the NCAA Tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers, lost to the No. 16 seed UMBC Retrievers. Although the bracket as a whole had a substantial amount of upsets the top seeds in the left side of the bracket were hurt the worst: 1 seed Xavier lost to Florida State, 2 seed Cincinnati lost a 22 point lead to 7 seed Nevada, 2 seed UNC lost to 7 seed Texas A&M, 3 seed Tennessee lost to 11 seed Loyola-Chicago, and 4 seed Arizona lost to 13 seed Buffalo.
These upsets effectively left 3 seed Michigan, 4 seed Gonzaga, and 5 seed Kentucky as the highest ranked teams on the South/West side of the bracket. Needless to say, this year has been something we’ve never seen before.
The biggest mountain to climb will be Syracuse. They come in ranked 44th and are matched up against Duke who is ranked 3rd overall. With ESPN BPI giving them just a 10.5% chance to win, the odds aren’t tilted in their favor.
However, they faced similar odds just this weekend when they defeated 3 seed Michigan State, so don’t count ‘Cuse out yet.
The next biggest gaps are between Gonzaga vs Florida State and Kentucky vs Kansas State. They have Gonzaga ranked 7th, Kentucky ranked 17th, Florida State ranked 30th, and Kansas State ranked 39th. Kentucky is actually KenPom’s 10th-best team left in the tournament.
We’ll find out soon enough if these underdogs will keep taking over the tournament, or if the true teams will begin to win again.
Here’s a look at how all of the remaining teams in the field rank in KenPom:
1- Villanova Wildcats
7. Gonzaga Bulldogs
14, Clemson Tigers
17. Kentucky Wildcats
23. Nevada Wolf Pack
25. Texas A&M Aggies
36. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
44. Syracuse Orange