Please Let This Be The Year A 16-Seed Upsets A 1-Seed In The NCAA Tournament

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The NCAA Tournament is here. The time has come to fill out brackets and debate potential Cinderellas and plot strategies and shirk responsibilities on Thursday and Friday in a way that will create the least suspicion possible. (“Boss, bad news. Can’t make it to work. I have, uh … leprosy? Wait. Crap.”)

It’s always fun and always a whirlwind. I love it all dearly. But this year, I am only asking for one thing from the tournament. From God. From the universe. From whoever or whatever can make it happen.

Please — PLEASE — let this be the year a 16-seed finally upsets a 1-seed.

I want this so badly. So badly. You can’t even imagine how bad I want it. I have a two-pronged rooting strategy during March Madness: Part one involves rooting for the school I attended, because I gave them many thousands of dollars and the least they could do at this point is give me an NCAA title, especially after Villanova won last year, yes I went to Temple University and am bitter about Villanova’s recent success, shut up.

Part two is to root for chaos. As much chaos as possible, as often as possible. Upsets galore. All upsets. Burn it all down. I’ll be the one cackling inside the flames. And nothing would provide more chaos than a 16-seed beating a 1-seed for the first time ever. Think of the floor-storming. Think of the faces of the winning team. Think of the history being made.

(This two-pronged strategy does create an inevitable dilemma, though: If, some year, Temple earns a 1-seed, am I then required to root for the 16-seed to upset them? This has literally kept me up at night. I, I think it does. It is an honorable sacrifice I must make for the greater good. But I would prefer that it happen to anyone else. Especially Villanova.)

We’ve come close a few times. There were two two-point losses in 1989. Western Carolina missed a three-pointer for the win in 1996. The most recent close calls were in 2014, when Weber State lost to Arizona 68-59 (single digits!) and Coastal Carolina tied up their game against Virginia with about eight minutes left, only to lose 71-59. That one hurt so bad. I could taste it, as I now recall vividly after searching my Twitter history for “Coastal Carolina.”

I’m actually kind of surprised I took it that well. I expected more cussing.

It’s not an unreasonable request, either. In the grand scheme of things, there’s really very little difference between a 16-seed and a 15-seed, and 15-seeds have upset 2-seeds in the first round eight times, most recently just last year, and most memorably in 2013 when Florida Gulf Coast University beat Georgetown to kick off their run to the Sweet Sixteen. You guys remember FGCU, right? I do. I always will. Someone made a rap song about them.

You could make an argument that the FGCU run was one of the best things that ever happened to me, full stop, barely any hyperbole. I mean, a tiny beachfront school located in a Florida strip mall charged through three rounds of the tournament on the back of alley-oops and a handsome young coach with an attractive girlfriend, and the team earned the nickname “Dunk City” in the process.

It had almost everything I’ve ever asked for, and it was not entirely unlike the movie Summer School starring Mark Harmon as a cool slacker teacher named Shoop, and yes, in this analogy FGCU beating Georgetown is Chainsaw passing the driver’s test and the coach’s girlfriend is Kirstie Alley, and no one is Courtney Thorne-Smith’s character because that plot was kind of creepy, in hindsight, and I don’t want to talk about it.

But notice the key word there: almost. As great as it was, it could have been better. FGCU could have pulled off this run as a 16-seed. Also, they could have been coached by the entire reunited lineup of Jodeci, I suppose. That would have made it better, too. The 16-seed thing is probably more realistic, though, because at some point the choice between a 16-seed and a 15-seed is just a coin flip. (Also, because having four head coaches seems unwieldy, even if they are all wearing matching unbuttoned satin dress shirts.)

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The selection committee almost certainly doesn’t watch as much game film of the lower seeds as they do for the bubble teams, for a number of reasons. It was an educated guess, at best. And if they had made that FGCU team a 16-seed and Dunk City caught a few breaks in their game against a 1-seed … man. I might start crying just thinking about it.

I don’t mean to nitpick. I hope I’m not muddying the memory of something beautiful by “What if?”-ing it to death. The Dunk City experience was beautiful as is. Let’s remember it that way. It’s just that I’ve waited so long for a 16-seed to win a first-round game and the whole thing is starting to make me go a little crazy. I know it will happen eventually. It has to.

In the past 12 months alone, we’ve seen the Cubs win a World Series after a 108-year drought and a team from Cleveland win a title in, well, anything for the first time in 52 years, and they both overcome a 3-1 deficit in the final series to do it. Crazy stuff is happening all over the place. We can do this. You can do this, 2017 16-seeds. One of you can. Hell, all of you can.

Man, how great would that be, all four 16-seeds winning in the first-round? I’d probably float straight up to the ceiling and get stuck there all weekend like a wayward balloon from a children’s birthday party.

I’ll settle for one, though. Any one will do. But if I could be so greedy as to pick a favorite, well, the team playing against Villanova this year, Mount St. Mary’s, has a 5’5 point guard who can dunk. This feels like destiny.