NCAA March Madness Lives up to Its Name
Sixty-eight teams participated in this year’s NCAA basketball tournament. Since last year’s tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many teams were fueled to win the prestigious title. This year was unique in a plethora of ways as perennial top ten teams struggled and new ones emerged as favorites to win it all. As the time got closer and closer to March, fans and players alike became more eager to kick things off. However, the tournament would not have coined the alias “ March Madness” if there were no bizarre shots, or any unbelievable upsets. Now that this year’s tournament has come to an end, we can all say that the event lived up to its name.
It is a tradition for fans to predict the outcome by making their own bracket. However, for this year’s tournament, it would have been best if fans took a break from gambling as by the second round there were fewer than 10 perfect brackets. The first shocking upset was when the 15th-seed Oral Roberts defeated 2nd-seed Ohio State in a neck-to-neck battle. Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. had the chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but unfortunately for Ohio State, he missed in a heartbreaking loss. 14th-seed Abilene Christian would hand the University of Texas a devastating loss as well, winning by only one.
To start off the second round, 2016’s Cinderella story, Loyola IL, would strike again as they took down the 1st-seed Illinois in an impressive manner winning 71-58. Oral Roberts would continue to shock the world as they upset the 7th-seed Florida Gators. The second round would also be where 2nd-seed Iowa University fell to Oregon, and 3rd-seed Kansas University fell to 6th-seed USC.
The Sweet Sixteen included these matchups: (4) Florida State 58 - (1) Michigan 76, (11) UCLA 88 - (2) Alabama 78, (7) Oregon 68 - (6)USC 82, (5) Creighton 65 - (1) Gonzaga 83, (15) Oral Roberts 70 - (3) Arkansas 72, (5) Villanova 51 - (1) Baylor 62, (12) Oregon State 65 - (8) Loyola IL 58, (11) Syracuse 46 - (2) Houston 62. Through these games we were able to witness a newly crowned “Cinderella” as the 11th-seed UCLA was able to take down Alabama. Gonzaga continued to prove that they were the team to beat in this tournament while Baylor and Houston looked to be worthy contenders. Unfortunately, fan favorites Oral Roberts and Loyola IL (bye bye Sister Jean) were eliminated. The tourney continued into the Elite Eight, however the upsets were not done yet. UCLA was able to knock down Michigan in a close game as they won 51-49, riding off a tremendous performance from Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang. Gonzaga defeated USC with ease, while Baylor and Houston were able to advance with wins against Arkansas and Oregon State.
The Final Four would showcase the matchups: (11) UCLA 90 - (1) Gonzaga 93, and (2) Houston 59 - (1) Baylor 78. UCLA’s fantastic journey throughout this tournament would come to an end. From being labeled as one of the “first four out,” to being a part of the final four, their journey was nothing but impressive. However, they did not go without a fight as they forced overtime and the game would have gone into a second overtime if Gonzaga’s breakout freshman, Jalen Suggs, didn’t hit a half-court buzzer beater to win the game. But he did, and that ultimately sent Gonzaga to the National Championship. Baylor would dominate in their performance against Houston in which they were led by guard Davion Mitchell, who achieved a double-double in the game. The National Championship was set and would be the battle of the first seeds. Most people would have picked Gonzaga to win it all as they were intimidating on the court but Baylor had an admirable season as well. As the undoubted underdogs, Baylor imposed their will early on in the game and quickly pulled away with the lead. It was simply a beatdown as Gonzaga barely led in the game and would fall to Baylor, 86-70. With the victory, Baylor was awarded with its first Men’s Basketball title in school history.