March Madness: Upsets, Highlights, and More

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Siddharth Chandra

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Copyright © 2019 Steve Cheng. A

UCLA proved to be a true Cinderella Story in the NCAA Tournament.

Good things take time, as they should. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight. Actually, getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome.” – John Wooden

A perfect way to describe this year’s March Madness. Last year many fans were devastated to hear that March Madness was called of due to Corona-Virus concerns. As the Virus still was a prevalent problem the NCAA decided to hold March Madness in bubble similar to the NBA last summer. The tournament took place in Indianapolis. I am here today to recap the Tournament, and take a step back and appreciate the gift that was given to us.

The Unprecedented Amount of Upsets

What makes March Madness so great besides the basketball, is the setup. There are 68 teams (68!) competing for a chance at the National Title. Since this is also a tournament, it’s one and done which leads to a large amount of upsets. Compare that with College Football where the playoffs are 4 teams and it seems like only Alabama or Clemson are in the playoffs. But this year there were many more Bracket busters than one would expect. My bracket was busted with the first game after Florida won a nail biter against Virginia Tech. The round of 64 was filled with upsets, from Ohio to North Texas to Abilene Christian, and arguably the biggest upset since UMBC, Oral Roberts taking down Ohio State. After UConn Beat Maryland in the round of 64 all the brackets were busted, leading to no perfect brackets this year. In the round of 32 Oral Roberts continued their cinderella story with a win over Florida, Oregon State over Oklahoma State and Oregon over Iowa. Overall I think we were entertained with all the surprise, and were always looking forward to the next upset.

UCLA’s run from the First Four to the Final Four

I just wanted to take a second to applaud UCLA’s amazing run. They are the first team ever to get from the First Four to the Final Four. And their path wasn’t easy too. They had to first beat (3) Texas, who looked like they could go to the Final Four. Then in the Sweet Sixteen, they had to beat a talented Alabama Team that looked as good as the top leaders. In the Elite 8 they took down the 1 seed Michigan to book a date with Gonzaga. They were this close to beating the best team in the country and having a shot to win the National Championship (really Jalen). But what was amazing is the various ways they could win. They could play the defensive game and hold a team under 50 points. But if they failed to do that they could kick their offense into high gear and score 80 points. Even though they had one of the best runs in tournament History, they didn’t bring home a 12th national championship.

Gonzaga’s Near Perfect Run

Man oh man, how close they were. Gonzaga came into the Tournament as the 1 seed overall. They were the favorites to win across all Brackets, and there was good reason for that. They went undefeated in the regular season and looked to be the most dominant team in years. The only team that could sort of keep up with them was Baylor (foreshadowing). They steamrolled their opponents all the way up until the Final Four. Remember, these are some of the best college basketball teams in the country and Gonzaga made them look like JV teams. They faced their first challenge in the Final Four against UCLA. As the highest scoring offense in college basketball they were going to need every point they were going to get. UCLA pushed them to the absolute brink, and for the first time all season we saw a team challenge Gonzaga. It looked like in the final few seconds that the game would be going to OT…….. until Jalen Suggs hit one of the craziest buzzer beaters of all time.

Unfortunately that perfect run of 30-0 came to end in the National Championship against Baylor. But despite not walking home with a trophy Gonzaga still should be recognized as one of the greater NCAA teams in recent history.

 

 

Baylor’s Extraordinary Defensive Effort

A truly masterclass tournament by Baylor. While all the headlines were on Gonzaga’s high powered offense, Baylor was smothering offenses of other teams. They didn’t have the highest scoring offense, they didn’t need to. They were able to keep all of their opponents below 75 points, and most of them below 65 points. With a greatdefensivee effort from Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler, Baylor outclassed their opponents. Just like Gonzaga, they seemed to be unstoppable in the regular season with their only losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State. But as soon as they entered the tournament, there was no looking back. They rolled all of their opponents through the national championship. Maybe it is true that defense wins championships….