The best weekend of the year has now come and gone. The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament of 2013 are now just a very recent memory. Brackets got annihilated even more than normal in the first four days. In the West Region alone #1 Gonzaga, #3 New Mexico, #4 Kansas St, #5 Wisconsin and #7 Notre Dame crashed out. #2 Georgetown succumbed in the South and in the Midwest #4 Saint Louis and #5 Oklahoma St are already gone.
That carnage is reflected on the Banners on the Parkway Bracket Challenge, where even the top three contestants have missed on more than a quarter of the games. CBrakect (Conor), Seth's Breathtaking Bracket (Seth), and Your Brother Dwayne (Bryan), still lead the way. Amazingly, on the entirety of the the Yahoo Tournament Pick'em game, only five contestants out of over three million have missed less than eight games. It's not been an easy year to prognosticate.
Best Story: If there is any question in your mind as to who this is, you probably didn't watch the first two rounds. #15 seed FGCU beat Georgetown in the first round and then rolled over San Diego State in the second round. More impressively, the Eagles have done it with more than the requisite amount of swag, chucking lobs and gunning from deep as if they were the overconfident high seed and not the underdog. Their coach, Andy Enfield, is married to a model, owned stake in a hundred million dollar company, and is still only 43 years old. It's possible to go on all day about the Eagles, but great articles here and here have already done that.
Worst Story: The Minnesota Golden Gophers are a hockey school. Since the beginning of time, the Gophers have appeared in the Sweet 16 once and the Elite 8 once. Tubby Smith, a well regarded coach recently of Kentucky, arrived on the scene in 2007 and took Minnesota to an NIT runner-up and three trips to the NCAAs. That includes this year's trip, which started with an upset demolition of UCLA and ended when the Golden Gophers ran in to KenPom #1, Florida. Despite that, Smith was fired less than a day after Minnesota's exit and despite being the most successful coach in program history.
Best Upset: Obviously it was FGCU over Georgetown, but we'll look elsewhere just for fun. A collection of young men smarter than most people any of us know grabbed the Harvard Crimson their first ever tournament win. Behind a 16-20 night from the line and eight three pointers, the Ivy League school beat New Mexico and looked the better team for the entirety of a game in which they trailed for a grand total of 57 seconds. Unfortunately, the game occurred so late on Thursday night that many office dwellers may have missed it.
Best Game: Any time a #1 seed goes down it's likely to be a spectacle, and Wichita St's win over Gonzaga was no exception. The Shockers rained threes as they went eye to eye with one of the best shooting teams in the nation. By the time it ended with Ron Baker catching fire, the team from the MWC was 14-28 from deep and into the Sweet 16. The game came late on Saturday, but it was absolutely the best viewing the tournament has offered up so far.
Biggest Shot: Aaron Craft, can you even believe it? Craft polarizes people, who tend to see him as either Gritty McHustlepants, purveyor of playing the game the Right Way, or a can't shoot, can't really pass point guard who survives an awful lot on reputation while Briante Weber plays far better defense. What can't be denied is that Craft absolutely buried the biggest shot of his career, and this tournament, when he knocked out and Iowa St. team that so very nearly capped a great comeback.
Most Predictable Loss: Missouri has all the talent in the world but struggles to put it to use all the time. Wins over Stanford, Alabama, VCU, Illinois, Ole Miss, and Florida came paired with losses to LSU and Texas A&M. Faced with a chance to redeem an early season loss to Louisville, the Bears instead collapsed against Colorado St and went meekly into that good night. Honorable mention goes to UCLA, one of the most unlikable teams ever assembled.