NCAA Tournament Upsets: Why They Play Is Why We Watch

Ben Rosenbaum@BenRosenbaum1Contributor IMarch 25, 2010

OKLAHOMA CITY - MARCH 20:  Ali Farokhmanesh #5 of the Northern Iowa Panthers reacts against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second round of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Ford Center on March 20, 2010 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. UNI won 69-67.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Don't lie. You know you love it.

So what if your favorite team is out? So what if your bracket is now being used as hamster cage liner?

When these upsets emerge, we all can't help but smile and say, "Awesome."

This year's upsets have been nothing short of astounding—from Ali Farokhmanesh and Northern Iowa upending Kansas, to Murray State at the buzzer, or Big Red making opponents see red.

Whether any of this year's Cinderellas have the stamina to make a run similar to George Mason's in 2006 is a topic for a different article.

This article—this article is about why we watch.

Why these 64 teams captivate us, wow us, and make some of us lose our hair and curse the Gods.

It's because they creep up on us and yell, "Surprise!" They supply us with our energy for the day. We cannot wait to get to work or school to talk to our friends about the latest bracket-breaker.

Think back to the Murray State-Vanderbilt game. If Danero Thomas misses that jumper at the buzzer and the Commodores escape with a win, we all would go, "Wow, Vandy sure did get a scare there," and carry on with our day.

But did that happen? No. Thomas sinks the jumper, and we all go:


You don't just sit down and read the paper after that, now do you?

These upsets are called upsets for a reason. Not just because a No. 15 beats a No. 2, but because we can't stand it when we miss a game after hours and hours of research and then find out Kimmy the 19-year-old office intern who entered the bracket pool for fun called that game correctly. That makes us pretty upset.

Or for some of us, it isn't an intern—it's our mothers.

My mother, I love her to death, but I cannot stand it when I'm wrong and she's right when it comes to sports. Last week I am watching the end of the Ohio-Georgetown game and talking to a friend about how not one person in the country called this game—that not even Ohio fans had this game down.

No sooner does he say that than I get a text message from my dad reading, "Mom had Ohio."

I got mad. I wanted to break things. Now this didn't get me as mad as when she drafted LaDainian Tomlinson and Tiki Barber because their names are cool and ended up winning our Family Fantasy Football league. But I digress.

I hated her getting that right, but boy, did I love to see Ohio continue the Hoyas' tournament woes.

These teams inspire us, especially now with the uncertainty in our country. We all need a pick me up every once in a while.

We can all draw inspiration from these teams. They have the odds stacked against them, they hear the expectations, and they know they are supposed to be nothing more than a postseason "tune-up game" for the big-time programs.

Yet they go out there knowing they have nothing to lose, which makes them the most dangerous opponents.

If all No. 1s were to make the Final Four, it wouldn't be as exciting. If I was given the opportunity to pick the Final Four, it would be Northern Iowa, St. Mary's, Cornell, and Xavier (since they are the lowest seed left in the West).

Every time there is an upset in any sport, my Dad always says, "That's why they play the game!" He is absolutely right.

We can all listen and agree with the experts that Duke will do this, Kentucky will do that, and Kansas will do this. But that doesn't mean they will.

After all, David did slay Goliath.


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