In every NCAA tournament, there’s at least one lower-seeded team–a Cinderella–that captures the heart and imagination of the nation whilst we watch our brackets crumble under the pressure of shocking upsets. Normally, this Cinderella of sorts solely references a men’s basketball team. However, this year, March Madness may finally have a true Cinderella in 98-year-old Sister Jean…
Good News: The Ramblers of Loyola-Chicago narrowly defeated the Nevada Wolfpack 69-68 tonight to reach the Elite Eight.
Better News: Cinderella’s
slipper heartwarming and quick-witted spirit will continue to be in the international spotlight, befitting the uniquely-special character of college sports during this time of year.
It was destined to happen one day. My timeline was within the next 10-15 years. But it happened a little earlier than that…
For the first time in NCAA college basketball tournament history, a #16-seed has upset a #1-seed!
The UMBC Retrievers (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) not only defeated but dominated the overall #1-seed UVA Cavaliers 74-54 in Charlotte, North Carolina just moments ago. While UVA would’ve won 99 games out of 100 against UMBC, the Retrievers secured that one win at the most important time on the biggest stage to make college basketball history. Perhaps it’s fitting this game happened on March 16. As in march on, 16…march on.
And the college basketball
Retrievers Underdogs for the ages will do just that in this tournament fittingly called March Madness.
It’s official: Iceland’s most famous export is no longer the hockey squad from D2: The Mighty Ducks.
France is hosting the Euro 2016 tournament, which has seen many of the power teams advance through the group stage and to the single-game elimination rounds (Germany, Italy, France, Portugal). Keep in mind though, this tournament, during the past 12 years, has seen small nations rise to super human levels. Greece, defying all odds and constructs of reality, won Euro 2004 by defeating Portugal 1-nil.
It’s important not to make a direct comparison (yet), but Iceland continues to make a case in Euro 2016 that’s increasingly morphing into something genuinely mind-boggling.
So mind-boggling that its soccer announcer, Gudmundur Benediktsson, can barely believe what he’s seeing. Last Wednesday, Iceland upset Austria on a stunning last minute goal. Mr. Benediktsson had a mildly excited reaction. Yesterday, Iceland (pop. 330,000) was leading England (pop. 53,000,000) 2-1 in the last minute of extra time.
How can you watch and listen to him and not love the beautiful game?
Barring a surprise tournament entrance by Gordon Bombay: The Minnesota Miracle Man, the now famous Icelandic commentator may not be chilling out anytime soon.
P.S. Do you think Brits are more distressed over leaving the EU or being upset by Iceland? The answer may be more surprising than England losing to, well, you know…
P.P.S. Two unbelievably dramatic departures in less than a week. Is it time to call the U.K. the new Cleveland?
P.P.P.S. The MVP of Euro 2016 thus far: Gudmundur Benediktsson.
What’s Cinderella in German?
Maybe it’s VfL Wolfsburg.
(The literal answer is Aschenputtel, as an FYI).
The reason for comparing the club that’s currently sitting quietly at 8th in the Bundesliga standings with the honor of the college basketball darling this time of year is based on the aforementioned team’s shocking performance against one of the top clubs (and brands) in the world. For context, VfL Wolfsburg’s opponent in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal match was Real Madrid. For greater context, Real Madrid beat Barcelona 2-1 at the Nou Camp this past Saturday in El Clásico.
The game today was a classic, but not for the Spaniards…
(Click Play, then “Watch this video on YouTube” and Return to Read the Rest of the Blog!)
2-nil is the worst lead in soccer, so when Real Madrid cannot even get one goal back against an admittedly lesser opponent, that’s a seismic statement and final result for the determined German club. VfL Wolfsburg not only held its own in front of their fans in the Volkswagen Arena, but the VW-branded team surprised the Spanish giants by playing in and excelling in 4th and 5th gears to open their quarterfinal home-and-away series in the 2016 Champions League.
Next Tuesday, in the return leg in Madrid, the world will discover if they need to learn more about what VfL Wolfsburg is and why Volkswagen’s comeback may not involve cars.