Gabe Peraino ’22:Wow. That is the one word I can say about the first weekend of the 2022 March Madness tournament. The first and second rounds contained, as expected, many upsets and surprising outcomes across the bracket. Let’s quickly jump into some of those results.

West Region

No. 5 UConn vs. No. 12 New Mexico State | The Aggies ended up winning their first game in the tournament in almost three decades. Teddy Allen stood out with 37 points and the team itself did a great job defensibly. Adama Sanogo never got into the groove he wanted, allowing New Mexico State to hold a steady lead for most of the second half. This game was a clear upset win as the Huskies season surprisingly finished earlier than expected.

No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 10 Davidson | As I said before the tournament even started, this game would be close. The game continued to go back and forth as the Spartans could not find an easy route to gain a lead. Joey Hauser, who averaged less than eight points a game, ended up grabbing twenty-seven points to lead Michigan State down the stretch. This matchup was a flip of the coin, and the Spartans prevailed. 

No. 2 Duke vs. No. 7 Michigan State | Coach K vs. Tom Izzo in a final showdown. I must give credit when it’s due, Michigan State surprised me. Although I predicted the Blue Devils, I never would’ve thought that the Spartans would keep up. They played their hearts out and for that I credit them. There were a couple of plays down the stretch that I felt favored Duke by the refs, but the game lived up to expectations and Duke was able to use the underclassman talent to get out with a win. Coach K’s final run.

East Region

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s | If one team from this tournament is classified as a Cinderella, it’s Saint Peter’s. This game put millions of perfect brackets into the shredder. The Wildcats never got their game going, missing lots of key shots to put them ahead while failing to move the ball around effectively. The Peacocks came to play and went all in, standing up on defense late in regulation to send the game to overtime. Daryl Banks balled out with twenty-seven and contributed to the overtime win. Overall, the Peacocks just contained Kentucky as much as they could and Kentucky just missed their opportunities. 

No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 8 North Carolina |  The defending champs played inconsistently throughout the game, and everyone else doubted the Tar Heels capability to win. The game started to favor North Carolina, but the Bears outscored them, 38-13, in the last ten minutes of the game. Baylor ended up tying it but the Tar Heels rallied in overtime to cause yet another shocker.

No. 7 Murray State vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s |  Man, the Peacocks really choked the life out of all Kentuckians in this one. They stopped a 21-game winning streak for the Racers. Justice Hill for Murray State still played well with nineteen points but that simply wasn’t enough. Out of the blue, Saint Peter’s is on a roll. 

South Region

No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 9 TCU |  The Horned Frogs made this game fun to watch, almost pulling off another big upset against a top seed. Benedict Mathurin had thirty points in this game and put the Wildcats on his back. TCU gave all that they had, but Arizona’s talent lifted them in overtime.

No. 4 Illinois vs. No. 13 Chattanooga | I am deeply ashamed that the Mocs didn’t pull off this upset. This game was heavily overlooked in favor of Illinois, but the game came down to the final minutes. Kofi Cockburn finished with seventeen points and Illinois somehow, grabbing their second lead with just under a minute left, won this game. Chattanooga had their chances to win the game but never finished the j0b. The Fighting Illini escaped with a one-point game. 

No. 11 Michigan vs. No. 3 Tennessee | Can I just say one thing? GO BLUE. The Wolverines pulled off back-to-back upsets with this victory, reaching the Sweet 16 for the fifth consecutive time. Listen, this team was on the cliff with the Wisconsin game incident with Juwan Howard. Everyone, including myself, doubted them. I am really proud to say that I was wrong. With the Tennessee game, in particular, I think that was our best game all year long. We had Hunter Dickinson drop twenty-seven points, he is the main reason why Michigan won. But looking elsewhere, we saw a little Zavier Simpson nostalgia with Eli Brook’s leadership down the stretch as well as Frankie Collins and Terrance Williams stepping up. This team is on a high note, and they got a tough matchup with Villanova on Thursday. 

Midwest Region

No. 5 Iowa vs. No. 12 Richmond | You know, having just won the Big Ten Tournament in dominating fashion, I would think that Iowa would handle the Spiders. But Richmond weren’t spiders in this game, they were spidermen. The Hawkeyes had a poor shooting performance, which is pretty weird, and a questionable missed call at the end put Richmond ahead. There’s really nothing on that team that Iowa couldn’t have handled, but the spidermen did what they needed in order to win. 

No. 10 Miami vs. No. 2 Auburn | Not only would I say they won, but the Hurricanes dominated Auburn. The Tigers were potentially national contenders and shot only 30% from the field. Miami caused too many problems to pull away. Auburn stalled offensively all because of the stellar defense that the Hurricanes played. Things did not go the Tiger’s way, the Rock would be proud.

No. 11 Iowa State vs. No. 3 Wisconsin | Iowa State showed up to play the Badgers. Wisconsin went two for twenty-two from deep and Johnny Davis went zero for seven from beyond the arc. The defense by the Cyclones and poor shooting by Wisconsin tells the story of the game. Definitely a heartbreaker for a good Badgers team.

All around, the first and second rounds brought lots of attention and clarity as to who will make the Final Four. We’ve got a mix of high and low seeds and with Michigan still in, it’s exciting. Who will make it past the second weekend?

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