This time of year is commonly referred to as “March Madness,” and rightfully so. Since the first four play in games, the 2012 NCAA Tournament has featured just about everything a college basketball fan could possibly wish for including the largest comeback in tournament history and numerous upsets that have undoubtedly ruined many brackets. The original field of 68 has dwindled to 16. Many of the usual suspects such as Kentucky, Syracuse, and North Carolina have advanced and will be joined by a few surprise teams such as Xavier and Ohio.
South: The top overall seeded Kentucky Wildcats cruised to the Sweet 16, dispatching Western Kentucky and Iowa State with little difficulty. Other top seeds did not have it so easy. Number 2 seed Duke fell to Lehigh in round 1. Baylor struggled against South Dakota State in the first round and hand their hands full with Colorado before pulling away in the final minutes with a barrage of three-point shots. Virginia Commonwealth seemed poised for another deep run after knocking off Wichita State, but could not withstand a furious second half rally from Indiana. After barely qualifying for the Tournament, Xavier defeated Notre Dame and Lehigh to advance to the round of 16. Kentucky will look to avenge its first loss of the season against Indiana while Xavier will take on Baylor. Both games are scheduled for Friday.
West: The West Region featured perhaps the most shocking outcome so far. Norfolk State defeated Missouri, a popular pick to reach the Final Four. However, their quickly cut short after they were demolished by Florida in the round of 32. Michigan State, Louisville, and Marquette also advanced. Michigan State will face Louisville and Florida will take on Marquette Thursday. Michigan State would seem to have an easy path with Missouri out of the picture, but nothing is certain in this tournament.
East: Syracuse narrowly avoided the embarrassment of becoming the first number 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed. North Carolina-Ashville gave them a good run for their money, but the Orange were able to escape thanks in part to some questionable officiating late in the game. Syracuse managed to down Kansas State in the second round and will face the Wisconsin Badgers Thursday. Ohio State was able to advance through the first two rounds rather easily despite underwhelming performances from All-American Jared Sullinger and will square off against the Cincinnati Bearcats, who are hoping to continue their remarkable run after winning the Big East Championship.
Midwest: The Midwest Regional features two double-digit seeds. The North Carolina State Wolf Pack quickly rebounded from a heartbreaking loss in the ACC Tournament to upset San Diego State and Big East power Georgetown. They will try for another upset Thursday when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks, who just narrowly avoided a letdown against Purdue. The 13 seed and MAC champion Ohio Bobcats will look to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time in school history by taking down the regions top seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. While it initially appeared to be a mismatch heavily in favor of North Carolina, the Heels may have to do without their star point guard Kendall Marshall, who suffered a fractured wrist in their win against Creighton. Although UNC is one of the deepest teams in the country, Marshall is the one player on their roster who cannot be replaced. If he is unavailable, the Tar Heels could find themselves in a world of trouble.