Facebook statuses took on a shocked tone on Saturday night. Some were devastated; others were elated. What caused this uproar? Three words: Sweet 16 Upset.
Nobody saw it coming, but No. 9 Northern Iowa beat No. 1 Kansas in a 69-67 win.
“This team has done such a great job of turning the page to what’s next, and this would be the biggest challenge of the year,” Ben Jacobson, the Northern Iowa coach, said. “A lot of positive things have happened because of the way these guys played.”
With only 34 seconds left in the game, Ali Farokhmanesh took a three-point shot and sunk the basket. Kansas could have still saved the game, but Tyrel Reed had an offensive foul, and Farokhmanesh sealed the deal with two free throws. This will be Northern Iowa’s first time to make it to the Sweet 16.
If you look at history, this isn’t really that surprising. In fact, it’s the 13th time that a team that was ranked number 1 has lost in the second round; three of those 13 times, it was Kansas. The only No. 1 ranked team to actually win the NCAA tournament was Florida in 2007.
Perhaps what really made the difference for Northern Iowa was the team spirit and players’ confidence.
“We never doubted we could play with them at all,” Adam Koch, a senior player, said. “We knew they were going to turn up the pressure,” Adam Koch said. “In this kind of environment, where this could be your last game, you’re going to come at it with everything.”
Photo credit Ronald Martinez via theglobeandmail.com