A Basketball Upset

One of the most thrilling parts of March Madness are the upsets. An upset is when a lower-ranked team defeats a higher-ranked team that is expected to win the game. The lower-ranked team is called an "underdog;" the higher-ranked team is called the "favorite."

A team becomes a favorite because it has a better record and better players. But just because the favorite is expected to win the game, nothing is certain. Sometimes the underdog plays better than expected and surprises everybody with an upset victory.

The biggest upset of the NCAA Women's Tournament happened over the weekend. A surprising underdog, 12th-ranked Ball State, defeated fifth-ranked Tennessee in the first round. Very, very few basketball fans predicted this upset!

Tennessee is one of the most powerful and famous women's college basketball programs in the country. The Volunteers won the Tournament the last two years. Since the Tournament began in 1982, Tennessee had never lost in the first or second round, reaching at least the Sweet 16 every single year. Coach Pat Summit has won over 1,000 games with Tennessee, more victories than any other college basketball coach.

The Ball State Cardinals, on the other hand, were playing in their first ever NCAA Tournament. Their coach, Kelly Packard, only had 25 wins coming into the game. Gearing up for the game with the mighty Volunteers, Ball State was a perfect example of an underdog.

So how were the Cardinals able to beat such a heavy favorite? What sparks such a big upset?

The biggest thing is confidence. In order to win a big upset, the underdogs have to believe that they can beat the favorite. Everybody was saying that Tennessee would beat Ball State. If the Cardinals believed that, do you think they would be able to win? Having confidence allows teams and athletes to play to the best of their abilities. Think about when you are outside shooting baskets. If you tell yourself that you can't make a basket because it's too high, it will be much harder to hit the shot. But if you go outside knowing that you're going to make a couple of baskets, you will already have an advantage.

Armed with confidence, the Ball State players went out and played their hardest. Even though they might not have been as big or as talented or as famous as the Volunteers, the Cardinals were able to win the game and record one of the biggest upsets in the history of college basketball.

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