After one game we had our very first March Madness upset, but as the day was coming to an end we had what will likely be the best upset in the tournament. St. Peter’s University knocked off the two seeded Kentucky in the first round. After a tight affair throughout the game, St. Peters just wouldn’t let the Wildcats get away, keeping the game close before finally closing in and ruining Kentucky’s championship hopes. Maybe the two vs 15 seed is something we need to look at closer in March. We saw Oral Roberts play well last year and knock off the Ohio State Buckeyes. It also was not too long ago when Middle Tennessee knocked off Denzel Valentine’s Spartans. Although we could dive into the 15 vs 2 matchup, we are here to talk about the biggest upset of the tournament so far.
The Wildcats were a popular pick in many brackets to make a deep run and overall had a great year coming into the tournament. Their season will end with back to back losses as they fell to Tennessee in the conference finals. Ultimately the biggest question or take away from the Wildcats is how they were not better motivated or prepared for this matchup especially coming off a loss. This is a team they should have easily beat with their capabilities and yet struggled. Kentucky also was handed their first opening round loss under Coach Calipari. To make matters worse the road was predominantly a home one as the drive was not too far from Lexington where Kentucky is located. Spacing has been a key part of the season for many successful teams and that was something we really did not see out there. There was a lack of moving the ball and shooting that really felt like it was affected by the Wildcats spacing. A successful season for the Wildcats will now feel like back to back disappointing seasons after missing the tournament last year.
Now let’s talk about the other side, the St. Peter’s side who honestly deserved to win this game. Now you’re going to hear about how St. Peters never flinched and stayed with Kentucky despite being a worse team in every single article. The point I specifically want to talk about is the start of overtime when Kentucky was quickly able to jump out to a 75-71 lead with 3:23 to go in overtime. Down against one of the best teams in college basketball, down against a blue blood program, feeling the game start to slip away, and this team dug down and clawed back into the game. There will never be enough articles about how this team showed grit and made their way back into the game. The Peacocks would do everything right in that last 3:23 to advance into the next round, shattering brackets everywhere.
Let’s talk about the players of the latest bracket busters now. Starting off with their leading scorer Daryl Banks III. He scored 27 in the win over the Wildcats and was instrumental early in this game. Then there is Doug Edert who was extremely clutch for the Peacocks down the stretch helping them stay alive over and over again. 15 of his 20 points would come in the second half and overtime. Both of these two were instrumental on the offensive side in order to stay with the Wildcats who were scoring at a high level. It feels like if you normally score 71 points in regulation it would be enough to win the game. The tiny Jesuit school in Jersey City shocked the world in a game no one thought would be close.
Who knew that a team that led the SEC in shooting would struggle in the first round of the tournament. Calipari even went as far as to take players out of the game if they weren’t shooting the ball. The story of the game would also have to be how small the school facing Kentucky was. The program on St. Peter’s side could only cover a growth of Calipari’s salary. The Peacocks will continue dancing in this beautiful tourney in March.
Top Image: Drew Brown/Sea of Blue