It's only Friday and the madness has already been prevalent in the second round of the 2014 NCAA tournament. No matter how well you prepared to fill out this year's bracket, nothing can take the wind out of your sails more than an unexpected upset.
Day 2 of the second round featured a handful of those bracket-busting games.
The "any given day" concept rings true each year during March Madness. Regular-season records are thrown out the window, and the team with the hottest hand can easily come away victorious—no matter its seeding.
Let's take a look at the results from a few of Friday's games that featured wild finishes and unexpected outcomes.
No. 14 Mercer Shocks No. 3 Duke, 78-71
According to a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com, Mercer guard Langston Hall put it perfectly:
"This is what March Madness is all about."
It certainly is.
Last year, Dunk City ran rampant, as No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast stunned No. 2 Georgetown. Now, it was Mercer's turn to take the national spotlight as 2014's Cinderella team.
Mercer hung with Duke throughout the first half, going into the break down 35-34.
The Bears continued to hang with the Blue Devils early in the second half. With just under five minutes left in the game, Duke pulled ahead by five points.
However, Mercer—a team with five senior starters—was resilient. They stiffened up on defense and did not allow Duke to record a single point over the next four minutes. This allowed the Bears to climb back into the game and eventually take the lead.
They sealed the game by hitting 12 of 14 free-throw attempts in the final two minutes. That precision shooting from the line was the dagger in this contest.
Per the AP, during his press conference after the game, Duke forward Rodney Hood simply said, "They're a team that's been together a long time. They sliced us up. There's no other way to put it."
Mercer will play No. 11 Tennessee next, after the Volunteers recorded an upset of their own, defeating No. 6 Massachusetts, 86-67, on Friday.
No. 11 Tennessee Trounces No. 6 Massachusetts, 86-67
Speaking of those Volunteers, they put together one of the day's best performances against a higher-ranked opponent.
Jarnell Stokes was phenomenal for Tennessee on Friday. His 26-point, 14-rebound performance was a huge contributing factor in the team's blowout win over Massachusetts. Stokes went seven of 11 from the field and connected on 12 of his 13 free-throw attempts in the game.
The Volunteers combined to shot an impressive 53.6 percent from the floor, while their defense limited the Minutemen to shoot just 42.4 percent as a team.
Tennessee got off to a fast start, outscoring Massachusetts, 41-22, over the first half of play. From there, the Volunteers went on cruise control, matching the Minutemen's 45 second-half points to come away with the decisive victory.
After the win on Friday, the Volunteers have now won seven of their last eight games. Their only loss came in the SEC tournament against No. 1 Florida. Still, they were able to hang with the Gators, losing a closely contested game by a score of 56-49.
Tennessee is hot at the right time. This is one team that no one wants to see on their schedule right now.
So who has the privilege of playing them next? Well, that would be the aforementioned Mercer Bears. Anything can happen in March Madness, and this battle of the bracket-busters will bring plenty of excitement when they meet in the round of 32.
No. 2 Kansas Survives No. 15 Eastern Kentucky, 80-69
Those who picked Kansas to go deep in the 2014 NCAA tournament received an anxiety-filled Friday courtesy of the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
After the first half of play, these two teams were deadlocked at 32 points a piece. That began the unsettling feeling in the guts of the Jayhawks.
The team seemed to get things together early in the second half, connecting on bucket after bucket and building a 45-38 lead. However, that wouldn't last.
Despite the great run, Kansas couldn't keep momentum in its favor. Eastern Kentucky controlled the ball with more efficiency, and Kansas began taking ill-advised jump shots rather than continue to dominate in the paint.
Due to these unforced errors, the Colonels went on a 10-0 run and briefly gained the lead.
This led to a well-timed timeout by Kansas head coach Bill Self.
He realized that his team was faltering and called them all to the side in order to get things back on track. Well, it worked.
Andrew Wiggins and Co. pounded the inside shortly after, connecting on earth-shattering dunks and regaining the necessary momentum to get the win.
Jayhawks guard Conner Frankamp spoke of the team's late-game strategy during a press conference with the Associated Press, via ESPN.com:
"We knew that anything could happen. We were down, we tried to stay poised and not get too rattled, and just tried to make the easy play, because we felt like we could score pretty good down low."
The game plan worked, and Kansas secured its Round 2 victory. However, if the team continues to rely on these late-game rallies, it will increase the chances of getting sent home early.
Kansas moves on to play No. 10 Stanford in the round of 32. Stanford looked good in its first contest, upsetting No. 7 New Mexico by a score of 58-53.
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