It was hard to envision a nightmare, a heartbreaking upset for a No. 1 seed, especially when it happened to be the second-round of March Madness.
There was a sense that this was Kansas’ year to win it all, reaching a usual pinnacle in college hoops. Needless to say, though, the Jayhawks were all so close to pulling off a considerable win over ninth-seeded Northern Iowa.
But apparently, Kansas wasn’t close enough, losing in what could go down as the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history. At a time when America counted on the Jayhawks, like the rest of us, President Obama’s bracket is now busted after predicting that Kansas was his favorites to win the national title.
Finally, Obama is imperfect at becoming the next sports genius. Ever since he was inaugurated into office, we’ve embraced his sporting enthusiasm, believing in his bold predictions.
But this time, he wasn’t nearly close. He’s not a minority, either, picking the most talented and deepest team in the nation as everyone else marked the Jayhawks to last at least until the Final Four.
But clearly, it appears all brackets are stained by mind-blowing upsets, in what has described a thrilling and mesmerizing month in sports.
This is the year No. 1 seeds seem to be in jeopardy, unsure of which team is capable reaching the Final Four.
Assuming this is the year that Cinderella teams emerge, it’s difficult ignoring the sleepers at a juncture when most at-large bids vanished from the Sweet 16 picture.
It’s fair to admit that Kansas has ruined brackets across the country, with the most stunning loss in school history.
For those keeping track, you’ve witnessed a multitude of upsets that have either happened in the first round or second round.
Within that span, we’ve had to shut or eyes witnessing the unthinkable, which has evidently, became the epicenter of the insane madness.
Of course, there’s no upset bigger than Northern Iowa, an unexpected team, surviving in a win over the powerhouses of the NCAA tourney.
This wasn’t supposed to happen to a team, favored to preserve a national title, a team with believable star power, brainwashing the nation to ignore any team the Jayhawks encountered during an assuring drive.
It’s almost surreal hearing that Kansas collapsed, taking an early departure and leaving behind unfinished business. So what happened?
Well, in an awkward position with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left, the Jayhawks trailed 59-54. Rarely did they have to come from behind this season, battling to survive a critical nail-biter.
In the final three minutes, Northern Iowa wasn’t under duress or fearful, but managed to stay composed and confident. The Panthers were aggressive and energized to take down the Jayhawks, careless in what the program embodied and weren’t startled to attack them early.
Although Kansas has a notable reputation of thrashing substandard teams, normally lasting until the Final Four, the Panthers weren’t nudged or affected by the media and populace worshiping the Jayhawks as an unbeatable team.
Ask Dickie V.
Yes baby, he forecasted that Kansas would ride to the Final Four.
Turns out, we were wrong.
Not even were the Jayhawks good enough to advance to the Sweet 16.
If Kansas was fortunate to have Ali Farokhmanesh on their roster, maybe it could’ve made a difference. With the ultimate performance of the great Ali knocking down a trio of three-pointers in the first-half, it symbolized surrealism in what felt like a movie rather than an actual contest.
Even center Jordan Eglseder made a pair of threes in the first half, a trait rarely seen considering he had made only one three-pointer all season.
But what matters greatly is that he was involved within a streaky offense that has been surprising lately, and tapered the Jayhawks’ usual game plan.
It was more than a disappointing loss, but a sad downfall. Once time expired and the buzzer sounded, Northern Iowa celebrated as if they were little kids, getting a slice of pizza at a birthday party.
That’s when reality kicked in realizing a win over the Jayhawks wasn’t surreal. On the other side, it showed how badly Kansas was longing to taste a victory, smelling a win entering what was anticipated to be a cakewalk.
Instead, the bench had reduced into tears, distraught and saddened by the results. Near the bench, no one felt more helpless than senior guard Sherron Collins, who walked to the bench slowly and shed into tears in front of coach Bill Self.
He wasn’t by himself.
The entire team was somber, unsure how to take in a loss. Marcus Morris, a sophomore forward, revealed his emotions differently, dropping to his knees, as well as his twin brother, Markieff Morris.
There’s nothing wrong with expressing emotions, especially following a shattering defeat. Later inside the locker room, the entire team cried loudly, battered, and hurt deeply.
Too emotional to show signs of tears, the Morris twins cried endlessly into towels. It’s also sad to mention that Tyshawn Taylor and Xavier Henry cried, too. All of them were loss of words, speechless and distraught bearing an awful loss.
I almost feel sorry for them, but even more so, I feel deeply sorry for Brady Morningstar, roughly taking it harder than the rest of his teammates.
The ninth-seeded Northern Iowa, a team from the Missouri Valley Conference wanted it more. Or maybe the Jayhawks took much for granted amid desperation, when underdogs are born and sends top-notch teams away crying.
Entering the game, Kansas was stronger and built for physical toughness, but Northern Iowa was quicker and much dominant.
As it unfolded, the Jayhawks underestimated the least expected team, a blunder top-seeded teams commits often while playing in a mystic tourney in which the personality transforms often as well.
It certainly has changed in the second-round, with Kansas failing to play consistently for 37 minutes and allowed the Panthers to find a shooting rhythm, hustle for loose balls at halfcourt and rebound. No way.
Doesn’t Kansas have players with muscular bodies and speed? Yes. But the Panthers were hungrier, smarter and survived a heavyweight round.
It was much too late for a wakeup call, perhaps the Jayhawks awakened too late.