Round of 64 mayhem

Graphic Courtesy of Paige Albright/BU News Service.

By Paige Albright

Boston University News Service

As the dust settled after the first two rounds of the NCAAM and NCAAW basketball tournaments, the 32 teams left standing were a line-up no bracket guessed correctly. The NCAA tournaments, known as March Madness, have been underway for about a week. The already unpredicted wins have wreaked havoc amongst the men’s and women’s bracket pools.

As a basketball blue-blood, Kentucky was trounced by Horizon League Champion Oakland in the first round of the tournament, and Louisville was sent packing by MTSU in the women’s. After these results, of the 30 million brackets made by viewers, none remain unscathed. 

Along with upsets, there have been close matchups having viewers hold their breath as top contending teams, such as the University of Iowa, could not create a comfortable point margin against opposing teams. Each year is normally accompanied by a “Cinderella team,” or a poorly seeded team from a weaker division that defies their odds; making an unprecedented run deep into the tournament. 

Currently, the possible Cinderella teams left in the tournament include 11th seed NC State for the men’s side and 7th seed Duke for the women’s. NC State entered the tournament coming off a high after a phenomenal ACC tournament beating powerhouse UNC in the championships to end their regular season. Duke women’s basketball, however, has had a semi-strong season overall, being placed seventh due to their level of “averageness” all season. 

The women’s games have been drawing greater viewership so far this tournament, reflecting the huge growth in women’s college basketball in recent years. This growth is due to in part the stars tearing up records in the women’s game, including athletes like Notre Dame’s unstoppable freshman Hannah Hidalgo, Iowa’s lights-out shooter Caitlin Clark and Stanford’s unmatched small forward in Cameron Brink. Many have commented on how the men lack notable game-changers to keep viewers tuning in. As of late, the biggest stars for the men are Jared McCain the high-scoring, TikTok famous freshman at Duke and RJ Davis of UNC

The women’s Final Four games have sold out for the first time in 30 years, with the average price of a ticket for the women’s game being around $100 more than the men’s. The women’s second-round game of Iowa versus West Virginia drew around 5 million viewers, matching the numbers for some of the highest-viewed NBA games this season.

The current round, or “sweet-sixteen,” is taking place all across the country, and TD Garden in downtown Boston is hosting two games. Playing first was No.1 UConn beating San Diego State, and there were two Massachusetts athletes playing in this game: both Solomon Ball and Alex Karaban are players for UConn attending high school in Mass. The Garden also hosted a midwest match-up between Illinois and Iowa State. The winners from both games, UConn and Illinois, will play on Saturday again at TD Garden, with watch parties being hosted for each team at different sports bars around Boston.

Graphic Courtesy of Paige Albright/BU News Service.
Graphic Courtesy of Paige Albright/BU News Service.

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