March Madness Has Begun!


It took just a singular day for the “Madness” of March to begin in earnest. Day 1 of “The Big Dance” saw 13th-seeded Furman upset 4th-seeded Virginia on a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left. Later in the day, we saw 15th-seeded Princeton upset the 2-seed in Arizona (the third consecutive year where a 15-seed beat a 2-seed).

We also saw a couple of smaller-scale “upsets” in terms of seeding. Auburn beat Iowa in a 9-seed v. 8-seed matchup. Penn State beat Texas A&M in a 10-seed v. 7-seed matchup.

This is how March Madness should be. With single-elimination games, anything is possible. But for now, we’re going to focus on the big upsets of Day 1.

13-seed Furman upends 4-seed Virginia:

The Virginia Cavaliers are the textbook definition of feast-or-famine when it comes to NCAA tournament play in the last half-decade. The Cavaliers lost in the first round in 2018 to UMBC, as the only ever 1-seed to lose to a 16-seed. In 2019, the Cavaliers won a national title. 2020 marked a COVID-year, and no March Madness was played.  The 2021 iteration of March Madness saw the Cavaliers lose (again as the higher-seeded team) to Ohio in the first round. Last year, the Cavaliers didn’t even qualify for March Madness. And this year, as the higher-seeded team, they lost to Furman after leading for the majority of the game.

The Virginia Cavaliers

It’s a bizarre trend for Virginia and one that’s likely to stick with them until they make it past the first few rounds of the tournament moving forward. They’re an excellent regular season team under coach Tony Bennett, winning the ACC regular season this year behind their patented brand of team-first basketball. But with the exception of that magical 2019 tournament run, they’ve largely been a disappointment in the Big Dance.

Part of that has to do with injury luck. One of Virginia’s best forward’s (Ben Vander-Plas) missed the Furman game with an injury. In 2018, star freshman De’Andre Hunter missed their game against UMBC.

But more than anything, Virginia seems to have an issue with playing down to their level of competition. They shot a measly 2-12 from 3-point range against Furman, only hit 77% of their free throws, and veteran guard Kihei Clark had a brutal turnover that led to the game-winning three-pointer.

Credit goes to the Furman team, though, as they hit 10 three-pointers to keep the game close despite Virginia leading them in virtually every other measurable box score statistic. As a reward for beating Virginia, Furman now plays San Diego State, who eked out a six-point win over Charleston in the first round.


15-seed Princeton shocks 2-seed Arizona:

It’s been almost 30 years since Mitch Henderson led Princeton to a shocking upset of UCLA in the 1996 March Madness tournament. He just did it again, as a coach this time, to another Pac-12 program. Princeton stunned the Arizona Wildcats despite not playing all that well. The Tigers only shot 4-25 from a long distance. They trailed by double digits with under eight minutes left in the game. And despite miraculously out-rebounding the Wildcats, the Tigers were the noticeably shorter team.

March Madness basketball

None of that mattered as Arizona, once again, bowed out early in March to an inferior opponent. Arizona is now the only team in NCAA tournament history with multiple losses to 15-seeds in any round. Despite winning the Pac-12 tournament, the Wildcats’ season ends in disappointment.

From a betting perspective, the Tigers won as a 16.5-point underdog. That marks the largest upset margin of victory by an Ivy League team in the modern tournament (since 1985) history.

The Worst Beat of the Day:

Alabama was leading Texas A&M-Corpus Christi by 24 points with 18.5 seconds left on the clock. That game was, in effect, over. Many bettors had taken Alabama -22.5, including @DoubleVodkaDon from Barstool Sports. Instead of an easy-betting victory, the game turned into a nightmare as a player from Texas A&M-CC fired up a meaningless three-pointer from a scoreboard perspective.

Only that three-pointer had large ramifications for bettors, as it turned a 24-point victory into a 21-point victory, meaning -24.5 bettors lost. Ouch.

See his reaction below:

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Catie Di Stefano has worked in the gambling industry since 2011 for major brands like Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Gaming Innovation Group and Betsson Group. She started in customer support at age 19 and has since worked her way through VIP, CRM and Marketing. Today, Catie is passionate about educating players on consumer rights and the best approaches for legal play in the United States as the Director of Community Marketing at Catie was born in Indonesia but grew up in Sweden. Currently, she resides in Spain with her two daughters.

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