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NCAA Tournament Bracket Buster: Northern Iowa Shocks #1 Kansas

Posted on March 20, 2010 by Dean Hybl
Northern Iowa v Kansas

Northern Iowa harassed top seeded Kansas throughout their improbable victory over the Jayhawks.

If you had any doubt that there really was no “great” team in college basketball this season, Northern Iowa’s shocking 69-67 victory over number one Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament should confirm the fact.

While it isn’t the greatest upset in tournament history based on seeding, it is definitely notable simply because Kansas was the prohibitive favorite to cut down the nets in Indianapolis (40 percent of participants in ESPN’s Bracket Challenge picked the Jayhawks to win the title).

The last time the overall number one seed lost in the second round of the tournament was in 2004 when Kentucky lost to Alabama-Birmingham in the second round. Interestingly, that year was very similar to 2010 in that there were a number of very good teams, but no team considered to be great. Of the four number one seeds in that tournament (Kentucky, Duke, St. Joseph’s and Stanford), Duke was the only one to reach the Final Four and they lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Connecticut.

Will a Non-BCS Conference Team Reach the Final Four?

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Fast forward to 2010 and experts have said all season that major conference college basketball was down this season and the first three days of the NCAA Tournament have reinforced that assertion.

This has been a tournament in which seeding has meant very little. It started with a dominating victory by 14th seed Ohio over #3 Georgetown and has continued through the second round.

Already advanced to the Round of 16 are an 11 seed (Washington), 10 seed (St. Mary’s) and a 9 seed (Northern Iowa). There is also a good possibility that 12th seed Cornell could punch their ticket to the Sweet 16 tomorrow.

Every year there is a pre-tournament debate about whether mid-majors deserve opportunities ahead of the major-conference teams. Of the 23 opening round matchups between teams from BCS conferences and those from non-BCS leagues, six were won by the non-BCS school.

That may not sound all that impressive, but if you take away the matchups that included the top three seeds from each region, the non-BCS conference actually won five of 11 meetings between teams seeded between four and 13.

There is already three non-BCS conference schools in the Sweet 16 and that number could continue to grow as we complete the second round.

It may be too early to predict that one of the lower seeded teams can repeat the magic of George Mason in 2006 and earn a spot in the Final Four, but circumstances certainly seem ripe for one of the lower seeds to make such a run.

So, for all of us who had Kansas winning the title, we can take solace that the chances are that the upsets are just starting.

After all, it isn’t known as “March Madness” for nothing.


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