FACT: An SEC team has never lost to a 16-seed.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) March 17, 2018
Above is the SEC Network’s contribution to the first-ever No. 16-seeded upset of a No. 1. Congratulations, SEC Network, on accomplishing a feat that would seem as impossible as a 16-over-1: Making me feel bad for that losing 1 seed.
The end of football season typically offers some reprieve from the chest-thumping that’s become standard from our friends associated with the Southeastern Conference. However, following a classic College Football Playoff championship that featured a pair of SEC teams, and with the conference’s resurgence in basketball during the 2017-18 campaign, the league that gave us Paul Finebaum seems especially chirpy these days.
Take Auburn’s First Round win over College of Charleston on Friday in San Diego. The Colonial Athletic Association champion Cougars gave the SEC co-regular-season titleholders all they could handle for 40 minutes, even leading down the stretch. As Auburn gained control in the final minute, a noisy contingent of Tigers fans could be heard breaking out in the grating “S-E-C!” chants.
Now, in the case of Texas A&M routing defending national champion and ACC banner-carrier North Carolina, this expression of conference pride is no less annoying but at least understandable. Unleashing the conference chants for a narrow defeat of a mid-major in a 4 vs. 13 matchup, on the other hand?
Maybe Auburn fans caught wind of the CAA being declared “the SEC of FCS” a few years back, when Richmond and Villanova won national championships, book-ended by a pair of Delaware appearances in the title game. But College of Charleston doesn’t field a varsity football team, and only recently moved to the CAA from the SoCon. Perhaps there’s lingering hostility stemming from The Citadel’s defeat of South Carolina a few seasons ago?
Auburn’s win ended with controversy, as Bryce Brown hit Grant Riller’s elbow on a would-be game-tying 3-point attempt.
Should this have been a foul? pic.twitter.com/bx95M4M1O8
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) March 17, 2018
Officials miss calls, even in late-game situations. The crew working that particular matchup happened to miss two critical calls, sending the wrong Tiger to the free-throw line after Riller’s miss.
But for Bruce Pearl, unsolicited, to declare Brown’s defensive play wasn’t a foul? C’mon. Take the win and move forward.
“Charles, that one was for you!” – Bruce Pearl pic.twitter.com/KKJhuIZMMb
— March Madness TV (@MarchMadnessTV) March 17, 2018
Not just accepting the win seems like the theme of this spring in the SEC. Alabama won its second College Football Playoff championship, and now claims 17 football titles in total. Given the suspect nature of a few of those claims, there might be some understanding, or even empathy, for UCF in it staking a portion of the 2017 national championship.
Oh, no. No, no, no. Not only will you find no shortage of Crimson Tide supporters ready to get every upset about it on social media, but even Alabama’s athletic director is jumping into the fray. The most vicious dunk of the weekend was not on the hardwood, as a result.
Our policy has been to schedule Disney parades when we win New Year’s Day bowl games. We’ve won 2 in the last 5 years. The most recent in 2017 when we were the only undefeated team in America, & National Champions. If y’all wanna have a parade for WNIT wins – more power to ya! https://t.co/pgFLN8mqj9
— Danny White (@UCFDannyWhite) March 18, 2018
The below infographic can help with parsing UCF’s claim to the football championship…
…But if that’s insufficient, let’s bring this full circle to the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament.
Coming from the National Champions, this means a lot. https://t.co/MuzR9iwycj
— UMBC Athletics (@UMBCAthletics) March 17, 2018
UCF should add this tweet to its criteria for declaring the national championship.
Oh, and if you’re curious: SEC teams went a combined 2-6 following the above SEC Network, including co-regular-season champions Tennessee losing to No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago (the Ramblers improved to 2-0 vs. the conference, adding the Vols to a December victory over Florida), and Auburn losing the most lopsided 4 vs. 5 game in NCAA Tournament history.