12 ways March Madness has been so great so far – USA TODAY

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1. It’s had the most overtimes

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

There were five overtimes in the round of 64, the most ever in a single round of an NCAA tournament. (For the sake of comparison, the entire 2013 tournament had one OT session.) With the play-in game overtime game between Tennessee and Iowa making it six total, 2014 is only one extra session from tying the all-time record for most overtimes in a tournament.

We saw a little bit of everything in those six overtime games too: collapses (N.C. State), epic collapses (VCU), missed buzzer beaters (Connecticut), blowouts (Tennessee over Iowa) and upsets galore. It wasn’t nice to see teams choke at the free throw line or commit mind-bogglingly terrible fouls (or both, in VCU’s case), but no one ever complained about free basketball. Well, except for those six teams.

2. Duke lost

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Ding, dong, Duke is gone. In the only loss that could ruin most of America’s bracket while simultaneously thrilling most of America, the Blue Devils went down on Friday to 14th-seeded Mercer.

For all the March success of Coach K, there’s a less-discussed side of the Blue Devils’ postseason play. Only one team in NCAA tournament history has ever lost five games to a double-digit seed while it was a top-three seed. (That teams is Duke, in case that wasn’t foreshadowed enough.) The Dukies have lost their opening game in two of the past three years, including 2012′s No. 15-over-No. 2 loss to Lehigh, and have made it out of the first weekend just four of the past eight years.

Then again, most programs would kill to be a top-three seed in any NCAA tournament, let alone five. And for a vast majority of teams, making four of eight Sweet 16s is a peak, not a valley. But most programs aren’t Duke. And just because it’s still the preeminent college basketball program in the nation, doesn’t mean questions about recent tournament flameouts aren’t legitimate.

3. Upsets, upsets, upsets

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

Though there was nothing historic (sorry, Coastal Carolina) and many of the so-called upsets didn’t feel much like David vs. Goliath, there were still plenty of bracket busters and new faces such as North Dakota State, Stephen F. Austin and the aforementioned Mercer Bears.

4. Points scored before the game even starts

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Has a team ever led 1-0 before tip-off? It happened on Friday night, when Kansas State was assessed a technical foul because a walk-on dunked during warmups.

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

5. This picture of Aaron Craft

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Aaron Craft was one of the most celebrated players of recent memory, but his defensive powers failed him in the final seconds of Thursday’s upset loss to Dayton. And when his would-be game-winner bounced off the rim and landed next to his head, it made for the perfect image of March sadness.

There were plenty of others too.

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

https://twitter.com/MattNorlander/status/447222932549271552/photo/1

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

6. Celebration dances

mercer-dance

GIF via @CjZero

GIF via @CjZero

7. Don Johnson, a fork and a knife

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

What could Sonny Crockett have gotten from an NCAA tournament concession stand in Spokane that would have necessitated such utensils? Why was it so cold in the arena that he needed to wear a winter coat? Find out these answers, and more, on True Detective: Season 2.

8. THE best newspaper headline of the year

The Dayton Daily News couldn’t help but poke fun at THE Ohio State University after the Flyers’ upset win on Thursday.

OH_DDN

9. The guy who shot one-armed free throws

American, we hardly knew ye. Seriously, you played on Thursday afternoon when most people were at work. Plus, you were barely in the game, so most people didn’t bother checking it out. But we’ll always have you, guy who shot one-armed free throws.

giphy

10. Phil Martelli’s grandson

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Too bad St. Joseph’s couldn’t steal that game from Connecticut on Thursday. Four-year-old Phil Martelli still had a few of his 15 minutes of fame to use. Oh well, he has plenty more years in front of him.

11. Rob Lowe’s tweet about St. Louis’s Rob Loe

A lot of people who fancy themselves clever have been trying, and mostly failing, to bring their A-game to NCAA tournament tweeting. (You can find one of them @chaztopher.) But a 50-year-old actor swooped in and wrote the tweet of the tournament on Thursday night.

We Rob Loe’s know how to ball! But can he get the W?? #MarchMadness—
Rob Lowe (@RobLowe) March 21, 2014

The best tweet comes from Rob Lowe? That’s like Doug Gottlieb winning an Primetime Emmy next year.

12. Your bracket is busted

(USA TODAY Sports)

(USA TODAY Sports)

That’s okay. The quicker you can stop caring about the pool you’re not going to win anyway, the more you can sit back and enjoy all the madness. It’s only going to get better.

ncaa tournament, NCAAB 

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