After four days, 48 games, and one cheerleader sitting on a bison’s lap, we've reached the end of the best sports weekend of the year. Sunday gave us both the best game of the tournament and a handful of snoozers. 68 teams are now 16, and in the next 15 days, we’ll have a National Champion. Here's what the day looked like in perpetually looping boxes.
Stanford vs. Kansas. The tree vs. the birds. An allegiance forged over millions of years, broken on the basketball court. In the end, the tree stood alone as the bird flew home. Let's go to the Stanford band's cowbell player for this thoughts.
With the Cardinals upsetting Kansas, there were officially two double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16, something worth celebrating if you were on the Stanford bench ...
And crying over, if you're this young Kansas fan. Before we get to the GIF, let's talk for a second about this kid's show of emotion, because it’s beautiful. The little Jayhawk sees two more weeks of madness without his team involved and endless months without Kansas basketball. Watching your team get knocked out of the tournament is like leaving summer camp. You know you’re about to spend eight months away from people you’ve come to love, and that really hurts. People who don't like sports never understand this part of fandom, but those of us on the other side have probably been there ourselves. The only difference is there weren’t cameras there to capture it.
Now on to the game of the tournament, which saw the undefeated Wichita State Shockers attempt to keep their streak alive against the much-hyped Kentucky Wildcats. The atmosphere in St. Louis was incredible. Both teams made plays on the defensive end.
And on the offensive end.
When the clock hit 0:00, it was a story of big threes: one that fell and one that didn’t.
Iowa State and North Carolina kept the energy high in the next game. Even without one of their best players (Georges Niang will miss the rest of the tourney with a broken foot), the Cyclones harnessed the power of their high-top fades to get the basket at will.
The ending of this one deserves to be revisited if you like referee reviews and clock malfunctions. After the above layup, with 1.6 seconds on the clock, UNC freshman Kenny Britt caught the inbounds pass, advanced the ball, and called a time-out with a few tenths of a second on the clock. Upon review, the officials saw that the clock didn’t start when it was supposed to. Those remaining tenths of a second should have been there. Game over. The refs clearly didn’t want to make the call.
But they did, and UNC coach Roy Williams accepted his fate.
The closest game in the next five blowouts was UCLA’s 17-point win over Stephen F. Austin, whose fellow Cinderella Mercer lost by 20. As much as the drubbings suck, those losses will soon fade from memory and the players will be left with the memories of improbable upsets wins.
The most improbable story of the night was Baylor’s demolition of Creighton, a team led by senior Doug McDermott, a shoo-in for National Player of the Year. Baylor won by 30 in a game that looked like a varsity squad running up the score on a bunch of freshmen.
McDermott’s exit from the game was emotional, especially since his dad is his coach. They shared a hug and McBuckets, as they call him, was done with college hoops. He’ll leave as the game’s fifth leading scorer of all time.
For fair representation, here are two examples of Virginia and Arizona dominating their opponents, who don’t deserve to have their names typed out.
We leave you with Baylor’s players celebrating by messing up Craig Sager’s hair, because we’re still amazed it didn’t come off in one piece.