9 facts that show this NCAA Tournament is one of the wildest in history — and how it could get even crazier from here

The first weekend of March Madness is officially in the books, and it's difficult to comprehend what a wild weekend of basketball we just witnessed.

Unprecedented upsets, dominant performances from lower-ranked teams, and a Sweet 16 the likes of which we've never seen before — it's tough to wrap your head around what has been a whirlwind weekend's worth of March Madness that has truly lived up to its name.

Below we break down some of the best moments of the NCAA Tournament so far and show why the Sweet 16 could be setting up for something special:

9 reasons this March Madness is one of the wildest in history
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9 reasons this March Madness is one of the wildest in history

1. A No. 1 seed lost in the first round for the first time in the history of the men’s NCAA Tournament.

The most significant upset of the tournament so far was No. 16 UMBC's win over top-ranked Virginia on Friday night — the first time in the history of the men's NCAA Tournament that a No. 1 seed has fallen in the first round.

It was an upset that was bound to happen eventually, and the Retrievers were the team to grasp the moment — making stars out of their players, and their Twitter account in the process, as well as making some bold gamblers in Las Vegas very, very happy.

The Retrievers win will undoubtedly be the defining moment of this tournament, an upset victory that will never be forgotten, even if UMBC couldn't keep the magic going to make the Sweet 16. That said, there was plenty of other chaos across the bracket.

 Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

2. Other top seeds aren’t faring much better.

While Virginia's first-round loss was by far the most surprising of the first weekend of March Madness, they were not the only colossal favorite to suffer a shocking defeat at the hands of an under-seeded opponent.

Other tournament favorites including UNC, Michigan State, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Xavier met their end before reaching the Sweet 16. All told, five of the top nine teams selected to win the NCAA Title game on ESPN failed to make it to the second weekend of the tournament — if your bracket is busted, you are not alone.

As a result, we're looking at a fascinating Sweet 16, the likes of which we've rarely seen before.

(Photo by Grant Halverson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

3. The underdogs aren’t getting lucky — they’re dominating.

It's not just the fact that these top seeds are losing that's so surprising, it's how they are going down — simply put, they're getting walloped.

UMBC jumped to a double-digit lead early in the second half against the Cavaliers and never looked back, making their unprecedented victory look comfortable and winning by 20 when the final buzzer sounded.

Texas A&M took out UNC with similar ease, with the Tar Heels never coming within 10 points of the Aggies during the second half. And No. 5 Clemson, while not nearly as big an underdog as other teams on this list, made No. 4 Auburn look outclassed, taking a lead of over 40 points through portions of the game.

While the Cinderella stories we imagine usually involve hope and a prayer, this year's class of underdogs have been taking down championship-pedigree teams with a good ol' fashion butt-whippin'.

Mandatory Credit: John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

4. For the first time in history, not one of a region’s top four teams advanced to the Sweet 16.

The upsets are so prominent that we have seen a few things we have never seen in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Not only was Virginia the first No. 1 seed to fall in the first round, but this year's South section of the bracket represents the first time in history that none of the top four seeds in a region have made it to the Sweet 16.

No. 2 Cincinnati and No. 3 Tennessee both lost in rather heartbreaking fashion in the second round, and No. 4 Arizona couldn't even escape the round of 64, resulting in an unprecedented rate of lower seed representation in the Sweet 16.

It makes for an exciting and unpredictable left side of the bracket moving forward, although the pieces all seem to be falling into place for a potential run from Kentucky.

(Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

5. Nevada can’t play a boring game of basketball.

While there's been no shortage of heart-stopping basketball action through the tournament so far, the No. 7 Nevada Wolfpack have seemed especially incapable of playing boring basketball.

In the first round, Nevada forced overtime against the No. 10 Texas Longhorns by erasing a 14-point second half deficit and then shooting virtually perfect from the field in the extra period to pull away for an 87-83 victory.

Then, in the second round, the Wolfpack took down No. 2 Cincinnati despite being down 22 points with just 11 minutes to go in the game — the second most significant comeback in the history of the NCAA Tournament.

Facing off against No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the Sweet 16, you can expect another nail-biter.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

6. No. 9 seeds have a presence like never before.

While the double-digit seeds have gotten the most attention for their impressive upsets, No. 9 seeds are also celebrating the best Sweet 16 representation they've ever had — for the first time in history, two No. 9 seeds are moving on to the second weekend of action.

Just five of the previous 132 No. 9 seeds in March Madness history had ever made Sweet 16 before 2018, and now two have made it in one year.

The No. 9 seed is always a tough draw for teams looking to make a deep run in the tournament, as even if your opening round game is somewhat winnable, you're almost guaranteed to face a dominant No. 1 seed in the second round. Historically, teams seeded No. 10-13 have all fared better at making it to the Sweet 16 than No. 9 seeds.

This year though, Florida State and Kansas State have flipped the script, with the Seminoles taking down top-seeded Xavier, and the Wildcats having the advantage of being the first team in history to ever play against a No. 16 seed in the second round.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

7. Overall, lower seeds are dominating the Sweet 16.

It's not just the No. 9 seeds taking advantage of a volatile year in college basketball — lower seeded teams across the bracket are all enjoying more Sweet 16 success than almost any other year.

Heading into the second weekend of the tournament, more teams are left that are ranked fifth or lower than teams remaining ranked fourth or higher. Should the upsets continue through this weekend, we could be looking at one of the oddest Final Fours in history.

Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

8. Syracuse did it again.

Of course, what would March Madness be without an improbable run from a low-ranked Syracuse team?

After sneaking into the tournament off the bubble on Selection Sunday, the Orange had to win a play-in game just to make the first round, but have proven to be a deserving team in the Sweet 16.

Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone is still working to stifle offenses, as Syracuse stunned the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans for a spot in the Sweet 16, despite being out-rebounded 51-30 and recording just three assists on the entire game.

Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

9. The race for the national title is still wide open.

But perhaps the most thrilling part of this year's March Madness is what's still to come. While a few teams — Villanova, Kansas, Duke, Kentucky — still stand out as potential favorites to take the title, there's no clear-cut champion yet, and it feels like there's a chance for any team left in the field to make a run at the national championship.

Can Gonzaga shake off the ghosts of last year's championship loss to take home the title? Could Loyola-Chicago keep Sister Jean's magic going all the way to the Final Four? Anything is in the realm of possibility, and if the tournament has told us anything so far, it's to expect the unexpected.

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


Now check out one player to know from every team that made the NCAA Tournament this year:

One player to know from all 68 teams in the NCAA Tournament

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