Busted Brackets

Historic upsets of 2022 college basketball season

It feels as though every year, the ESPN bracket challenge gets shorter and shorter. Teams pinned to win it all choke in the first round. Teams that people have never heard of prior to the tournament find nationwide fans. Others, crushed from their team’s loss, turn off the TV and likely will not watch again until the championship held in early April. 

When the women’s March Madness bracket was announced, there was a similar thread connecting all the number one seeds. All had red and white as their primary colors. South Carolina, North Carolina, Stanford and Louisville all took the top spots for the bracket, which, for the first time ever, was comprised of 68 teams. Louisville and South Carolina both belong to the Altlantic Coast Conference. It is rare for two top seeds to come from the same conference, but the teams these two programs boast are clear contenders to top their respective tracks. 

The greatest story of the tournament, however, has not come from any of these top seeds. Instead, two teams have made headlines. One is seeking to make a place for their program. The other is seeking to remind others that they have not left their prowess behind. 

UConn is a second seed this year. For head coach Geno Auriemma, the tournament is nothing new. Auriemma has won 11 championships during his coaching tenure. He has managed to create a program that, to recruits, means a high probability of leaving with at least one ring by the time they graduate. In order to best North Carolina in the Elite Eight, the Huskies turned to now-sophomore Paige Bueckers to lead the team to an upset win. Auriemma credited their win to Bueckers’ ability to remain calm in the big moments. 

The Huskies’ success is not a shock to basketball fans. As they look to Stanford in the Final Four, the game will certainly be a battle. However, a lesser known team burst onto the scene this year and took out some of the highest seeds in their division. Creighton women’s basketball was a ten seed at the beginning of the tournament. Before falling to South Carolina in the Elite Eight, they would best seven seed UC Boulder, two seed Iowa and three seed Iowa State. Their closest game came from Iowa, who they bested by just two points to meet Iowa State who they would beat by eight. Ultimately, their fall to South Carolina by 30 points put a stop to their postseason run. While their dreams of cutting down the nets have been dashed, it is not likely that many will forget the Bluejay’s deep postseason run. 

Their upset over Iowa shocked many and will hopefully give the team the confidence they need for the next season, which might allow a higher seed and thus prevent upsets. 

Just last season, there were nine upsets in the first round of the men’s tournament alone. Who could forget Oral Roberts’ upset that busted brackets and made history, with the team being just the second 15 seed to ever make it to the Sweet Sixteen? Previously, no 15 seed team had ever made their way into the Elite Eight. This year, that changed. 

St. Peter’s out of New Jersey captured the nation’s attention with a first-round win over two seed Kentucky. Headed by Doug Edert’s shooting, the team next faced seven seed Murray State, whom they bested by 10. Against three seed Purdue, the Peacocks saw their tightest win margin of the tournament, ultimately winning against the Boilermakers 67-64. The run of St. Peter’s into the Elite Eight is not only historic—it is life changing for the players of the team and hopefully, for the history of the program. According to Sportico.com, St. Peter’s has a basketball budget of $1.6 million. By contrast, Kentucky’s budget is a humbling $18.3 million. Coach Calipari of Kentucky basketball is the highest-paid college basketball coach, making $86 million a year. Shaheen Holloway makes just under $300,000. Unfortunately, given current NCAA standards, St. Peter’s will not see all of the money that they have garnered throughout the tournament. It will be dispersed throughout the MAAC conference. 

Even with their loss to 8 seed UNC in the Elite Eight, projections say the Peacocks will be back. This time, it is likely people will bet on rather than against them, and their wins will mean success for their new supporters rather than busted brackets.