On the first Thursday of the NCAA Tournament, we had to wait until the final game of the night for a true March Madness upset. But while Harvard beating New Mexico will go down as the upset of the tournament, Ole Miss decided they wanted to get in on all this fun upset action and dragged the Wisconsin Badgers behind the shed on Friday and axed them from the tournament.
Ole Miss had all the makings of a first round upset, as they were entering the tournament red hot. They were fresh off of upsetting the Florida Gators in the SEC title game, an affair they had to comeback and fight hard to finish. Just like in that game, the Rebels took it to the Badgers early, staying with Wisconsin blow-for-blow until they finally began to pull away in the second half.
Once they grabbed the lead midway through the second half, Ole Miss kept pouring it on, making sure they remained a step ahead of the Badgers to close out the game. Marshall Henderson stole the show and was the star for the Rebels, finishing in double digit points while Reginald Buckner was a monster in the paint gobbling up 12 rebounds as Ole Miss beat up Wisconsin in every way they could.
But while they fell to an upset loss in the second round, snapping a running streak of wins in the round, the Badgers didn’t roll over down the stretch against the Rebels. Wisconsin hung tight with the Rebels, but the fact that we are defending their efforts as hanging tight with a 12-seed is the reason so many people are looking at this in such a shameful way.
Wisconsin also couldn’t hit a bucket to save their lives in the final minute of the game as Ole Miss ran away with it behind the vocal and visual swagger of Henderson.
The wild, wild West region is truly shaping up to be exactly that, as three lower seeded teams have now moved on to the third round. Ole Miss joins the likes of No. 9 Wichita State and No. 14 Harvard as teams who survived their opening round games. The win secures a matchup for Ole Miss with either La Salle or Kansas State, but at this point it’s truly unwise to pick a favorite after the way the wild, wild West region has started off.