March Madness 2012: 12 Stories from This Tourney We'll Never Forget
The Sweet 16 is over, but the 2012 NCAA tournament enters the Elite Eight tonight. Though we've only played four rounds of the 2012 NCAA bracket, we have been blessed with stories that we will never forget from this year.
With Lehigh and Norfolk State pulling off huge upsets, and injuries plaguing North Carolina, there is a broad spectrum of stories we won't forget from this year.
Of those stories, these are the top 12.
Southern Miss Has Racial Chant
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Unfortunately we won't remember this NCAA tournament solely for the good.
During a game in the Round of 64 between No. 8 Kansas State and No. 9 Southern Miss, Kansas State guard Angel Rodriguez went to the free-throw line.
The Southern Miss band was trying to distract Rodriguez so they started chanting: "Where's your green card?"
The school then issued an apology and the students were punished, but we won't be forgetting this incident quickly.
Big Ten Dominance
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The Big Ten was regarded as a good conference, but after watching the NCAA tournament we learned that they are a great conference.
Big Ten teams went 5-1 in the Round of 64, and 4-1 in the Round of 32, with the only team losing in the second round being Michigan (No. 4), and the only team losing in the third round was Purdue (No. 10).
The Big Ten has displayed its dominance, and it was the most well-represented conference in the Sweet 16, with one-fourth of the teams.
Speaking of having one-fourth of the teams in the Sweet 16...
State of Ohio Dominates
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With four teams in the Sweet 16, the state of Ohio has become the new state of basketball.
Taking the crown from North Carolina (who has Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest), Ohio now has Ohio State, Ohio, Xavier and Cincinnati in the Sweet 16.
Despite having only one team ranked as a No. 4 seed or higher, the state of Ohio is well represented, with No. 2 Ohio State, No. 6 Cincinnati, No. 10 Xavier and No. 13 Ohio.
Think you'll ever forget Ohio being this well-represented?
Seven Teams Ranked in Double Digits Advance on Friday
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No less than seven teams seeded in double digits moved on during the first Friday of the NCAA tournament.
After a quiet Thursday, without many upsets, we had seven big upsets in 16 games on Friday.
No. 10 Purdue, No. 10 Xavier, No. 11 North Carolina State, No. 12 South Florida, No. 13 Ohio, No. 15 Norfolk State and No. 15 Lehigh all won on Friday, beating some of the best teams in the field of 68.
We won't be forgetting this incredible Friday soon, as it was one of the best days in tournament history.
No Overtime Games in First Three Rounds
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Despite having no fewer than 21 games determined by two possessions or less, not a single game in the first three rebounds of the 2012 NCAA tournament has gone to overtime.
Through the First Four, Round of 64 and Round of 32 there was not a single overtime, game, which is the first time in years that this has happened.
We've seen some great games so far, but none went to OT in the first three rounds.
North Carolina's Wrist Issues
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Injuries have been hampering preseason No. 1 North Carolina all season. Starting shooting guard Dexter Strickland is out for the year with a torn ACL, and role player Leslie McDonald is also done. However, their wrist injuries may have taken them out of championship contention.
First, John Henson hurt his wrist in the ACC tournament, and missed multiple games in both the ACC tournament and NCAA tournament. Then, in Henson's first game back against No. 8 Creighton, point guard Kendall Marshall broke his scaphoid bone in his right wrist, which could take up to six months for recovery.
North Carolina looked like they had a real chance of winning it all, but losing Marshall, who is arguably the best pure point guard in the country, will weaken their team so much that they simply cannot win it all.
This is truly a sad ending for a team that was considered one of the best in history during the preseason.
UNC Asheville Scares Syracuse
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We almost saw the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 team in history when UNC Asheville scared Syracuse.
The Orange were trailing in the game until 9:46 left in the second half, and even after that the game was very close, rarely becoming a two-possession game.
The officiating in that game was...interesting. There was certainly controversy because of it, and while two of the three big calls were actually correct, one was blatantly wrong.
The correct calls were a lane violation on UNC Asheville when shooting a free throw, with the refs saying that the guard on the outside of the three-point line left early, and a shot clock violation on a play where the UNC Asheville player was clearly fouled.
The first of these two calls was correct, but it was so unheard of that most people were wondering why it was called during such an intense moment in the game. The second was not definitely correct, but it was also not definitely wrong. The player was getting a shot off while being fouled, but the foul extended the time he had the ball. The refs ruled a shot clock violation on a play that could have been three points for UNC Asheville if the free throw was made.
The blown call came when UNC Asheville was trying to force a turnover. Down just a few points with very little time remaining, it looked like they got lucky. Syracuse inbounded the ball and it went off of a player as it sailed out of bounds, but a foul was called on UNC Asheville on a player who hit the Syracuse player who lost the ball well after the play, which was blatantly wrong.
The refs might have saved Syracuse in this game, and we won't be forgetting that.
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We won't be forgetting the lane violation calls in this year's NCAA tournament that ended Notre Dame's season and potentially cost UNC Asheville the biggest upset in history.
I've already talked about the call in the Syracuse game, but at the end of the Xavier-Notre Dame game in the Round of 64 there was a highly controversial call.
With two seconds left in the game, Notre Dame stepped to the free-throw line down 63-65, shooting one-and-one. On the first shot the refs called a lane violation on Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant, who was just past the three-point line when the shot was taken, as he was trying to get a jump on the rebound.
The call was so disheartening and confusing at such a crucial time that many fans think it was the wrong thing to do to call it, despite the actual call being correct.
Saying Goodbye to Robbie Hummel
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Robbie Hummel was one of the best college players in history for both his level of skill and his personality.
Hummel is a great kid who is intelligent, personable, hard-working and just a likable kid in general. It was difficult to see him struggle with two big injuries that ended his 2009-10 season and made him miss the entire 2010-11 season (with a torn ACL).
Hummel's last game in a Purdue uniform came in the Round of 32 against No. 2 Kansas. After upsetting No. 7 Saint Mary's the team narrowly missed a huge upset over the Jayhawks, leading until 3:28 left in the seconds half, when Kansas pulled off a comeback.
This was the last time we will see Hummel until he goes to the NBA, and it was essentially a goodbye party for him.
Kentucky Wins the Rematch Against Indiana
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The only team that beat No. 1 Kentucky in the regular season was Indiana. However, the Wildcats got their revenge in the NCAA tournament.
Breaking the century-mark and beating Indiana by 12, John Calipari's Kentucky team had the last laugh, winning by a final score of 102-90.
Kentucky looks like one of the most talented teams of all time, and if they do win it all we won't forget that they had to face their demons in order to do so.
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Brady who? Brady Heslip.
That's a name that Colorado fans won't forget any time soon.
Heslip is a sophomore who had never played a single minute in college before this year, but he played well during the regular season, shooting over 45 percent from three.
When Heslip and Baylor faced Colorado, he decided that he was going to shoot threes. A lot.
Heslip went 9-of-12 from behind the arc against Colorado, racking up 27 points in a 17-point rout of Colorado.
Heslip is the best shooting player of this year's tournament, and his first 14 made shots were threes. Wow.
Missouri and Duke Go Down in Three Hours
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It had been more than 11 years since a No. 15 seed had upset a No. 2 seed. With the gap between power conferences and mid-majors appearing to widen due to recruiting, some began to wonder if we would ever see another.
Norfolk State and Lehigh apparently didn't buy into that, as they came into their matchups with Missouri and Duke looking to win.
Not only did Kyle O'Quinn and Norfolk State shock Mizzou and prove that a No. 2 seed is still vulnerable, but less than three hours later Duke met the same fate to Lehigh.
This was the first time two No. 2 seeds lost to No. 15 seeds, and the incredibly short time span over which the two upsets took place was simply astounding.