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Men's March Madness: Livin’ on a prayer

Basketball

The GIST: We’re only halfway through the second round of men’s tourney action and we’ve already seen major upsets, busted brackets...and a COVID-19-related no-contest declaration. Madness managed.

March 22, 2021
Source: Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Source: Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The upsets: Indianapolis? More like upset-tropolis. After five (!!!) top-five seeds lost in the opening round, the hits kept coming in the second round with No. 1 Illinois — a favorite to win the entire tourney — losing 71–58 in yesterday’s intrastate battle to No. 8 Loyola-Chicago. Sister Jean for MVP.

  • No. 11 Syracuse joined the party, toppling No. 3 West Virginia 75–72 yesterday, clinching their 24th Sweet Sixteen appearance, and their 20th under head coach Jim Boeheim in the process. Who knew March was prime Orange season? 
  • And No. 15 Oral Roberts followed up their huge first round upset over No. 2 Ohio State with another, defeating No. 7 Florida 81–78 yesterday to become only the second 15-seed to make the Sweet Sixteen. We love a Cinderella story.

COVID-19: ICYMI, on Saturday, the first round matchup between No. 7 Oregon and No. 10 VCU was declared a no-contest due to COVID-19 protocols for VCU. Under the NCAA’s pre-determined COVID-19 plan, Oregon automatically advanced to the next round.

  • The NCAA couldn’t comment further on the situation due to privacy reasons, but VCU reportedly returned multiple positive tests leading up to their first round matchup. Yup, COVID-19 has burst the Indy bubble. Yikes…

What to watch: Second round action continues later today. We’ll have our split screens on all day, TBH, but the game we’re most excited for is the 6:10 p.m. ET matchup between No. 5 Creighton and No. 13 Ohio. 

  • No. 12 UCSB took Creighton down to the wire in the first round, with the Bluejays pulling out a 63–62 nailbiter. Meanwhile, Ohio pulled off a huge win, defeating defending champion, and No. 4, Virginia 62–58. Upset alert, round two, baby.