March is Here, so is The Madness

Staff Writer: Alex Kelly

The sport of basketball is something most people around the world love naturally, but there’s one time of the year where the sport brings us all together. That is, March Madness. Not many people watch every single college game, but once the madness begins, everyone tunes in. And on March 19, the madness began yet again.

“My favorite part about march madness is in the name: the madness. There isn’t a single game that isn’t exciting. I even watch the one seeds play the 16 seeds after Virginia’s collapse last year,” said Connor Ahrens, describing what he likes about March Madness.

It started how it does every year, making brackets. Most people go straight into picking their obvious games, like the one seeds over the 16 seeds, two seeds beating the 15 seeds, but that’s about as far as the “obvious games” will go, with the exception of Virginia being the first ever one seed to fall first round. This year’s popular pick was, without any surprise, the Duke Blue Devils, who were picked to win it all in 39.2 percent of millions and millions of entries. However, it’s called madness for a reason.

 

1

2019’s NCAA Tournament bracket. 
Photo Credit: seattletimes.com

 

What is madness without some upsets? The first major upset was 12 seed Murray State knocking off five seed Marquette, but Murray State was picked to win this match-up in roughly 57 percent of brackets. Then, three more upsets took place in the first round, taking off nearly 97 percent of all the remaining perfect brackets. The first of the three was 13 seed UC Irvine knocking off four seed Kansas State. Then followed by 12 seed Oregon taking down five seed Wisconsin. Lastly was 12 seed Liberty beating five seed Mississippi State, which made them the third 12 seed to win first round. Yet, these weren’t the only games that affected brackets. Popular pick, Cincinnati, was taken down first round by Iowa, the six seed Iowa State also fell first round to Ohio State, which was one of the bigger upsets because Iowa State was a popular pick through the sweet sixteen.

“Zion this. RJ that. Morant is, in my opinion, the most athletic player coming out this year. He deserves number one overall,” says Foroutan Gorgi, senior at Woodstock High.

 

2

Murray State’s star freshman guard Ja Morant, who guided them to a victory in round one. 
Photo Credit: sbnation.com

Madness isn’t only measured by upsets though. There was a fair share of close games that had people on the edges of their seats. The first of these nail-biters was Auburn versus New Mexico State. Auburn was holding a 13-point lead late in the second half when New Mexico State went on a run to make it a one-point game. Auburn barely escaped after an out-of-bounds ball resulted in New Mexico State ball, with them failing to capitalize on a potential buzzer-beating stunner. Along with this came LSU, who almost blew an 18-point second half lead against Yale but was able to hold on. Following this was Villanova closely taking care of Saint Mary’s, Tennessee escaping a late surge from Colgate, and Florida State holding off Vermont’s late run. The best part about all these upsets and nail-biters, they were all only in the first round of play.  

 

 

3

Auburn’s celebration after escaping New Mexico State. 
Photo Credit: 247sports.com

 

The second round wasn’t filled with as much madness, but still had its moments. The first and foremost standout detail wasn’t the outcome of a match-up, however the teams who played in the game. This year’s madness brought along something rare, a 12 seed versus a 13 seed in the second round, Oregon versus UC Irvine. These two teams were in fact the top two teams picked as a Cinderella, a double-digit seed into the sweet sixteen. With Oregon taking care of UC Irvine nicely, that match-up was over with quickly.

“I predicted the Oregon game, and I’m proud of that. But I had Kansas State in my final four, so I threw my bracket out,” Zac Piper said, talking about the frustrations of making brackets.

4

The bracket of the 12 seed versus the 13 seed, with Oregon winning comfortably. 
Photo Credit: espn.com

The only other standout moment in the second round was a scare of one specific one seed, Duke. Who would’ve thought the super team with 3 of the best collegiate athletes would struggle in the second round? In fact, nobody did really, not even UCF fans. UCF, the 9 seed in the East, played Duke buzzer to buzzer, and even almost walked out with a win. At a crucial point in the game with 14 seconds, Zion Williamson headed to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. However, he missed his free throw. But what would one freshman star be if they didn’t have their right-hand-man to help them out. RJ Barrett ended up getting the offensive board and hit a put-back layup to put Duke ahead by one with 11 seconds left. UCF had plenty of time to make a play and look for a shot, and that’s what they did. BJ Taylor of UCF got the ball and went in for a layup. He put too much on it and it rimmed out. Aubrey Dawkins, also of UCF, wasn’t going down without a fight though. He ended up getting into the middle and attempted a tip to give UCF the win but came up short when the ball rolled around twice and then rimmed out. Now although it sounds like a clean win for Duke, there were talks about how Zion had an offensive foul before getting sent to the line, Barrett fouling a UCF player on his offensive rebound, and Dawkins even getting fouled on his last tip in. All these however, resulted in a no call, and Duke sent UCF packing for home.

“One of the worst endings to one of the most exciting games this year. UCF got snubbed on three calls with less than 30 seconds. Could’ve been the biggest upset all year,” exclaimed Matthew Sanchez, senior at Woodstock High.

5

Zion’s and-one layup that lead to RJ Barret’s go-ahead bucket. 
Photo Credit: thestate.com

Because of events like these, March is anything but predictable. One moment you’re confident in your picks, then teams like Loyola-Chicago are making Final Four runs as an 11 seed. No matter how strong a team looks, they could be taken out any round by any opponent. This year, the sweet sixteen is set, and continues March 28. We expect to see teams like Duke and UNC continue their tears, but there could still be some madness left with Oregon looking to continue their Cinderella run.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: