March Madness Second Day Reaction: COVID-19 can wreak havoc
What a first round it was. The first two days of the 2021 NCAA Tournament are officially in the books, and the action was truly jam-packed in the Round of 64. We had last-second heroics, multiple overtimes, everything you could hope for and more. We’ve got a big start to the Round of 32 coming up, so be sure to check out our March Madness hub to stay on top of everything that goes on. Also, be sure to check out our picks on the side and total for every single game in the tournament.
But before you start thinking about your Sunday wagering, let’s take a look back at what just happened and digest a few of the main takeaways. Here’s where my head is at after Saturday’s games:
COVID-19 is still ever present
If there were any illusions that COVID-19 wouldn’t impact this tournament, they’re over now. In heartbreaking fashion, VCU had their season ended by virus issues. The sudden cancelation of their game against Oregon shocked everybody, and also woke us all up to reality. It was a harsh reminder that COVID has the chance to upend this tournament, and could hit any team at any time.
The bubble isn’t going to be perfect, and it’s entirely possible that we see more games canceled before it’s all said and done. Hopefully not. For now though, Oregon is advancing to the Round of 32 without having to play a game. I was already high on their upside, and now they’ll get to play Iowa in the second round while being very well-rested. No matter what, COVID is going to make an already unpredictable event even more unpredictable.
The PAC 12 deserves more respect
The PAC 12 has been the butt of a lot of jokes the past few years. They often haven’t been treated as if they belong with the other top power conferences, but they’ve silenced all the doubters so far. First. UCLA beat Michigan State in the First Four, then Oregon State pulled off a huge upset over Tennessee. On Saturday USC demolished Drake, Colorado dominated Georgetown, and UCLA breezed past BYU.
The conference flew under the radar this season, but it’s clear they’ve got some very good teams. The Mobley brothers make USC very hard to beat, and I won’t be at all surprised if they beat Kansas to go to the Sweet 16. As I alluded to above, I think Oregon has a very good chance to beat Iowa in the Round of 32. In any case, when next fall rolls around, the PAC 12 better have earned some more respect.
Ohio can be a true Cinderella
On Friday it was Oral Roberts that captured everybody’s hearts. On Saturday, it was Ohio. The Bobcats knocked off Virginia, the defending champions, in a thrilling finish. The country was introduced to Jason Preston and Ben Vander Plas, and they didn’t disappoint. Preston only had 11 points as he took just seven shots, but he looked like a true star as a facilitator, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out eight assists.
They did it against a Virginia defense that is elite, and routinely hit big shots when it mattered most. What’s scary is that even though they won, it felt like they played far from their best game. They can be even better against Creighton in the Round of 32, and I would prepare to see these guys stick around for the second weekend if I were you.