Overtime: Never Underestimate the Underdogs


Oral Roberts ( above) is one of the underdogs in this year’s March Madness that made an upset while advancing to the Sweet 16 and busting brackets at the same time. (courtesy of Twitter)

Whenever you watch any sport, there are moments that you simply have to respect and applaud regardless of who you support. A perfect example is a Cinderella or a fairytale story where someone or some team performs a miracle and shocks the world. 

In baseball, you think of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 when they took the last playoff spot and ended up winning the World Series. In Football, you have the Giants defeating the 16-0 Patriots in the Super Bowl and denying the Patriots an undefeated title-winning season. 

Recent examples in soccer occurred when Leicester City won the Premier League with 5000-1 odds. What makes that more incredible is that in the previous season, they barely escaped relegation. Another one of these was the runs of Russia and Croatia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup where they kept on surprising the entire world as they went further in the tournament than expected. Another unexpected win was when Liverpool came back from a 3-0 first-leg defeat to knock out Lionel Messi and Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals of the Champions League. 

Another sport with a lot of comeback stories is Formula 1. One example of this is Pierre Gasly, who was demoted from Red Bull to their sister team Alpha Tauri. In the time since he achieved a surprise podium in Brazil and won his first race in Monza just last year. Another surprise that happened last year was in the Formula 1 Sakhir Grand Prix, where Sergio Perez, who was in last place at the end of the first lap, ended up winning his first-ever race. 

I could go on and on with stories like that. One of the tournaments that give us the most underdog stories is actually in the midst of the competition. And that is none other than March Madness.

Every single year, millions of people tune their televisions to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as 68 teams fight for the championship and to be the best collegiate team in the country. It is a big deal not only for the teams but the players themselves because this tournament can help send them into the spotlight and help them in their professional careers after college. 

Every year, people fill out brackets to predict who will win each game or advance to a certain round, along with the entire tournament. All of the teams are seeded, with the top seeds going against the lower seeds in a single-game elimination format. If a team loses, there are no second chances and they are out for good. And every year, every single bracket is busted. Every single year, there is always that one team that gets knocked out in the first round and there is always that team that makes an amazing run into the Sweet 16. And this year, there were a couple of those teams. 

When the brackets and matches were first announced, people saw that the number two seed Ohio State was facing 15 seed Oral Roberts. This was their sixth time ever being in the competition and the first since 2008, so most assumed that it would be an easy win for Ohio State. However, fans were proved wrong when Oral Roberts defeated Ohio State to advance to the second round and, in the process, busting nearly every bracket. Oral Roberts ended up beating Florida in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16. However, that is where the fairytale ended when they lost to Arkansas. 

Another upset was eight seed Loyola Chicago who beat the one seed Illinois in the second round. Unfortunately, like Oral Roberts, their run ended in the Sweet 16 against 12 seed Oregon State. Loyola Chicago gained popularity in 2018 as the 11 seed when they made it to the final four and gained the adoration of college basketball fans. 

These upsets occur every year and to me, they bring an amazing aspect to March Madness because in any given year, you never know which team will surprise you.

At the end of the day, sports are full of surprises, but there is something special about rooting for the underdog. If a 16 seed can knock out one of the best teams in the country, then it feels like anything is possible. And after all, isn’t that what sports is all about?