The NCAA men’s basketball tournament opened Thursday.
That means two days of non-stop action, from noon to past midnight. Continuous long-range, step-back 3-pointers. Hard cuts to the basketball. Intense rebounding around the rim.
It also means an annual collection of first-round upsets (see Arizona) and emotional cheerleaders attempting to hold themselves together at the end of heartfelt losses.
A tearful Utah State cheerleader provided the tourney’s first meme.
Try to look away from an image that is going viral.
This Utah State cheerleader was going through it 😅 pic.twitter.com/Rqhpz3zBaZ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 16, 2023
Tearful Utah State Cheerleader Shows NCAA Tourney Emotion
With 1:19 remaining in the first-round matchup between the No. 7 Missouri Tigers and the 10th-seeded Aggies, the outcome was all but decided.
With the Tigers shooting free throws, a TNT camera zoomed in on the tearful cheerleader. After panning over to cover the free throws, the camera focused back on the sideline entertainer.
Her eyes were red. Her lips quivered. And the camera stayed on her for several seconds.
After several uncomfortable seconds, fans on social media suggested.
The Tigers, who were paced by D’Moi Hodge’s game-high 23 points. led for much of the opening-round matchup in Sacramento, California.
The underdog Aggies did not have many answers for the sharpshooting Tigers, who hit on 50.1 percent of their field-goal attempts Thursday.
There will be other tearing cheerleaders and fans during March Madness.
Arizona shed its share of tears.
tfw you had Arizona in the Final Four of your bracket pic.twitter.com/5NeXWh7chH
— CBS Sports College Basketball 🏀 (@CBSSportsCBB) March 16, 2023
No. 2 Seed Arizona Falls As a No. 2 Seed – Again
For the 11th time in tournament history, a No. 15 seed (Princeton) upset a No. 2 Thursday. Mostly overlooked, the Ivy Leaguers edged Arizona, 59-55, in Sacramento.
“They made so many people proud and happy today,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson told ESPN.
Henderson has been here before. He was a player when the Tigers upset No. 13 UCLA in 1996.
The win looked improbable when the Wildcats, who were favored by 16 points, held a 10-point advantage with eight minutes remaining. Making it more difficult, the Tigers did not hit a free throw for the opening 39:41 of the game and made just 4 of 25 3-point attempts.
But the Tigers’ second-half energy zapped the athletic Wildcats, who had three players that stood 6-foot-11 or taller in their eight-man rotation.
The pain is familiar. Arizona became the first team in NCAA history to drop two tourney matchups as a No. 2 seed. The Wildcats also fell to Steve Nash-led Santa Clara in 1993.