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Brackets Busted: No. 2 seeds Missouri, Duke fall in major upsets

Scott Levin's picture

That sound you hear? The collective groan of thousands of fans who had Missouri or Duke advancing deep in the NCAA Tournament.

After a relatively uneventful Thursday at the NCAA Tournament, Friday turned into the day of the upset. No. 10 Purdue, No. 11 North Carolina State and No. 13 Ohio were double-digit seeds to pull off unexpected victories, but it was the defeats of two top seeds that shocked fans nationwide.

The first giant to fall was No. 2 Missouri, who was stunned by No. 15 Norfolk State University. Hours later, it was national powerhouse Duke who succumbed to a No. 15 seed, losing to Lehigh University.

The loss of a No. 2 seed to a No. 15 was not without precedent; until Friday, it had happened four times in tournament history. The last time, however, was back in 2001 when No. 15 Hampton beat No. 2 Iowa State.

After the brackets were revealed last weekend, it seemed Missouri had a one of the biggest gripes of any team in the field. The Tigers, who rolled into the tournament with a 30-4 record and the Big 12 Conference championship under their belts, felt they may have been underseeded at No. 2 and were worthy of a top seed.

But Friday, Missouri did nothing to prove they deserved better. The Tigers never got into a rhythm. A team built on suffocating defense and quick, uptempo offense was completely stymied by Norfolk State. The Spartans never looked intimidated by the upper seed, instead knocking down clutch shot after clutch shot as the lead continually switched hands.

The game ended when Missouri point guard Phil Pressey's three-pointer from the left angle bounced off the rim, giving the Spartans a stunning 86-84 win.

Maybe Lehigh was watching what Norfolk State was able to do. While few experts believed Duke had a championship caliber team, nobody expected them to struggle with the Patriot League's Mountain Hawks.

The Blue Devils have a roster full of big names, including two sons of former NBA players in Austin Rivers and Seth Curry, but Lehigh proved to have the best player on the floor Friday. Junior guard C.J. McCollum poured in a game-high 30 points as the scrappy Mountain Hawks went toe-to-toe with the South Region's No. 2.

And surprisingly, with the game tight, it was Lehigh who outexecuted the Blue Devils down the stretch. The 75-70 victory was the Mountain Hawks first NCAA Tournament victory in school history.

Just more proof that in the NCAA Tournament, you can throw seeds out the window.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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