Jim Boeheim and Syracuse narrowly avoided a major upset Thursday
The March to the Madness is finally over, and college basketball lovers everywhere can now settle into their seats for two days of non-stop tournament action.
With the Big Dance just underway, let's first take a look a few of the bizarre outcomes from this week's first and second-round play.
Syracuse 72, UNC-Asheville 65
Even though the Bulldogs didn't pull off this upset of epic proportions, the outcome of this No. 1 vs. No. 16 matchup was bizarre, to say the least.
First, UNC-Asheville held a four-point lead at halftime to the shock of many in attendance in Pittsburgh, PA. Many anticipated Syracuse to struggle without star sophomore center Fab Melo, but surely no one expected the Orange to fall to the Bulldogs in the round of 64.
UNC-Asheville very well may have made tournament history had it not been for two questionable calls towards the end of the game that doomed the Bulldogs.
The first call came while Orange guard Scoop Jardine was at the charity stripe for a one-and-one with 1:20 to play in regulation.
He missed the front end, but Bulldogs guard J.P. Primm was whistled for a lane violation, enabling Jardine to shoot the first free throw again. The senior drained the front and back end, extending his team's lead to six.
The other call in question came just a minute later when a pass appeared to ricochet out of bounds of off Syracuse guard Brandon Triche. Instead, the officials pointed the other way, returning the ball to the Orange.
Had the call gone the Bulldogs way, Primm and company would have had a chance to take the lead with 35 seconds left down just three points.
The Orange were able to outlast UNC-Asheville, but nonetheless, the scare that the Bulldogs put into the East region's top seed classifies as the tournament's most bizarre outcome so far.
Virgina Commonwealth 62, Wichita State 59
Last year's tournament darling is at it again. A year after winning five consecutive games in the Big Dance to earn a trip to the Final Four, No. 12 VCU "shocked" No. 5 Wichita State in Thursday's second round with yet another tournament stunner.
Shaka Smart once again worked his tournament magic as his Rams led nearly from start to finish en route to one of the day's only major upsets.
After losing several significant pieces from its 2011 team, VCU was discounted by many heading into this year's NCAA tournament.
However, Bradford Burgess, one of just two returning starters from last year's Final Four team, made sure the Rams' trip to the 2012 Dance was not short-lived.
The senior paced VCU with 16 points, including a pivotal three-pointer late in the contest to seal the deal for the Rams.
The Shockers, the regular-season champs of the always-competitive Missouri Valley Conference, were never able to hit their stride against the upstart Rams.
VCU will try to relive the glory of 2011 when the Rams take on Indiana in the round of 32 on Saturday.
Colorado 68, UNLV 64
On Tuesday I previewed this matchup between the No. 11 Buffaloes and the No. 6 Rebels. I stressed the rebounding advantage that UNLV seemingly had over Colorado as the primary reason for picking the Rebels to win 78-69.
Things couldn't have played out much differently.
Despite turning the ball over a season-high 23 times, Colorado manhandled UNLV on the boards, out rebounding the Rebels 43-20.
In my preview, I highlighted the Buffs' Andre Roberson as the most important player to watch, stressing the importance of his role in Colorado's upset bid.
The 6'7", 210-lb sophomore delivered.
Roberson played all but three minutes of Thursday's contest, registering 12 points and 16 rebounds. The forward was a force on the glass, limiting the production of some of the bigger bodies on UNLV's roster.
Many felt as if Colorado didn't even belong in the Dance in the first place, considering the boys from Boulder would not have earned a bid had it not been for their Pac-12 tournament title.
The Buffaloes proved all the naysayers wrong, and their upset victory over UNLV certainly classifies as one of the more shocking outcomes of the first two rounds of tournament play so far.