Why do we root for the upset?


We all seem to love the upset in the NCAA Tournament. We rejoice when the little guy rises up and stuns a No. 2 or No. 3 seed, and we all look forward to the day that we finally pick a 15-seed to upset a 2-seed in our own bracket.

But have you stopped to think about what these upsets do to the tournament?

If you had a chance to watch Florida throttle Norfolk State 84-50 in Sunday’s Round of 32, you probably had a little bit of buyer’s remorse. But that’s what you’re left with when you root for the little guy to beat the powerhouse in the first round — a brutal blowout in the second round.

In fact, it’s happened every time. Never in the history of the tournament has a 15-seed won in the second round after beating a 2-seed in the first round. Maybe the odds are slightly higher with 14- and 13-seeds, but more times than not, you get a terrible matchup in the second round.

And since there’s about a 99.8 percent chance that you didn’t pick that upset correctly, why do we care when a Norfolk State rises up? Or a Lehigh? Sure, it’s cool to see that 5-minute period of televised celebration by that little school that made history, but that team has left you with a busted bracket and no chance to win back that $10 you spent on your office pool.

What a great feeling.

Instead, what the tournament needs (and what you really need) is for the big guy to win every single time. Did you really want to see a matchup between Kentucky and New Mexico State this Friday night? Of course not — we’re going to get the Kentucky-Indiana rematch we all wanted to see because the two favorites advanced to the Sweet 16.

Did you want to watch South Florida and Ohio duke it out Sunday night? Maybe you did, but would you really prefer a UNC-USF matchup this weekend, or would you want to see UNC and Michigan face off?

We’ll get neither matchup because Ohio will be the team to take on the Tar Heels, but if that game gets better ratings than the UK-Indiana game, I’ll post my social security number here.

It simply won’t happen, even if UNC-Ohio is during prime time and UK-IU is going to tip some time around 10 p.m. People want heavyweights, because it’s where you see the best basketball.

Luckily, the 15-seeds don’t stick around beyond the second round, because we’d be punished with bad basketball.

And unless we’re psychic, those 15-seeds have already punished us enough — through our brackets.

Back to home page

Advertisements