Weep not for your bracket, for there is so much more basketball left to play.
All Your Bracket Essentials
With Mercer's 78-71 upset of Duke and Virginia Commonwealth's 77-75 loss to Stephen F. Austin, everybody's out a chance at winning that $1 billion, not that anybody was going to win it anyway:
More importantly, that loss crippled those brackets that had the Blue Devils going to the Final Four and beyond. You pretty much need to hit on the national champion in order to win your pool.
There's still time left to either have enough dominoes fall to get you to the top or at least get into a money position.
Look at it this way: Saturday is like the start of a new season.
|2014 NCAA Tournament Schedule—March 22|
|12:15 p.m.||No. 1 Florida||No. 9 Pittsburgh||CBS||Florida|
|2:45 p.m.||No. 4 Louisville||No. 5 Saint Louis||CBS||Louisville|
|5:15 p.m.||No. 2 Michigan||No. 7 Texas||CBS||Michigan|
|6:10 p.m.||No. 4 San Diego State||No. 12 North Dakota State||TNT||NDSU|
|7:10 p.m.||No. 3 Syracuse||No. 11 Dayton||TBS||Syracuse|
|7:45 p.m.||No. 2 Wisconsin||No. 7 Oregon||CBS||Wisconsin|
|8:40 p.m.||No. 4 Michigan State||No. 12 Harvard||TNT||Michigan State|
|9:40 p.m.||No. 2 Villanova||No. 10 UConn||TBS||UConn|
|Sports Media Watch|
Games to Watch
No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 Pittsburgh
Florida wasn't under much of a threat from Albany on Thursday, nor were the Gators so far ahead that the Great Danes were completely out of it.
It wasn't the kind of performance you expected to see from the No. 1 overall team in the tournament.
Couple that with Pittsburgh's complete domination of Colorado, and this looks like it could be a very close game.
Neither team is known for its prolific offense, so this could be one of those ugly 65-60 games. If the score does stay low, you'd favor the Gators. They have one of the best defenses in the country, and their underwhelming showing against Albany will likely have renewed the players' focus ahead of this game.
No. 4 San Diego State vs. No. 12 North Dakota State
San Diego State nearly threw it away to New Mexico State on Thursday night. The Aggies made a 14-4 run to close the game and send it into overtime. Although the Aztecs eventually prevailed, there were more than enough warning signs that could signal their impending doom.
As a team, SDSU shot only 23-of-59 from the field. Xavier Thames missed 11 of his 17 field-goal attempts, and Winston Shepard scored seven points on 3-of-11 shooting.
If the Aztecs struggle offensively again, North Dakota State will put them to the sword. The Bison didn't have any problems making shots against Oklahoma, and they won despite Taylor Braun having a poor game.
Emboldened by its victory over the Sooners, NDSU should make it two upsets in a row.
No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 5 Saint Louis
Depending on your opinion, Louisville's close win over Manhattan either justified the selection committee's decision to seed the Cardinals lower than most projected, or it justified head coach Rick Pitino's viewpoint and illustrated how much more difficult the road will be for the defending champions than it should've been otherwise.
While some may see the Jaspers' performance as an indictment of Louisville, you have to consider how tough it was for the Cardinals to play a team that was essentially a carbon copy of themselves, per Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples:
Because Masiello learned almost everything he knows from Pitino, he runs his program just like Pitino runs his. On the sideline, Masiello moves and sounds exactly like Pitino. His players play just like Pitino’s. And as Thursday bled into Friday, the Jaspers played that pressing, up-tempo style just as well as the Cardinals.
Louisville won't have to worry about that against Saint Louis. The Billikens squeaked by North Carolina State after erasing a 16-point second-half deficit. The Wolfpack were their own worst enemy, as they couldn't knock down free throws, and nobody aside from T.J. Warren was scoring.
St. Louis won't be so lucky against the Cardinals.
No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 11 Dayton
Maybe Syracuse's poor finish to the regular season wasn't that ominous after all. The Orange soundly dispatched Western Michigan in the second round, holding Shayne Whittington and David Brown to a combined 20 points.
Head coach Jim Boeheim knew that losing five out of seven heading into the tournament wasn't a cause for concern, per Joe Sullivan of The Boston Globe.
"Last year, we lost five out of our last six games and went into the tournament [and went to the Final Four]," Boeheim said. "The tournament’s a different thing. You can start playing well in one game, and all of a sudden, you can get on a roll."
Dayton will struggle against Syracuse's vaunted zone defense. The Flyers lack the shooting that can break the 2-3 down.
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