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New March, same madness

The Villanova Wildcats won the NCAA Division 1 title in another crazy march madness

AP+player+of+the+year%2C+Jalen+Brunson+and+the+rest+of+the+Villanova+Wildcats+celebrate+their+championship+win+on+Monday%2C+Apr.+2.
AP player of the year, Jalen Brunson and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats celebrate their championship win on Monday, Apr. 2.

AP player of the year, Jalen Brunson and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats celebrate their championship win on Monday, Apr. 2.

AP player of the year, Jalen Brunson and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats celebrate their championship win on Monday, Apr. 2.

Casey Collins, Asst. Sports Editor

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As another college basketball season came to a close, the madness continued to live up to its name. With nothing to lose, college teams entered each matchup giving their all, making every game as exciting as the last. The tournament was filled with a boatload of upsets and buzzer beaters leaving fans on the edge of their seats and wanting more.

The very first game of the tournament kicked off in Pittsburgh on March 15 when 10th seed Oklahoma Sooners led by Freshman standout Trae Young, who led all of the NCAA in points per game with 27.4, took on seventh seed Rhode Island Rams. In an outstanding first game overtime thriller, the Rams prevailed and avoided a first game upset, winning by a score of 83-79.

In previous years, a popular upset is an 11th seed over a 6th seed and this year, that upset proved to be true. Two 11th seeds managed to pull off upsets. On the first day of the tournament, 11th seed Loyola of Chicago took down 6th seed Miami on a last second buzzer beater, winning 64-62. The second sixth seed taken down was the TCU Horned Frogs at the hands of the Syracuse Orange who earned their playoff bid with a ‘First Four’ win over the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Another upset seed in this year’s tournament was a 13 over a four seed. On day one, the Buffalo Bulls faced off against the PAC-12 champions, the Arizona Wildcats, with freshman standout DeAndre Ayton who is projected to be a top five pick in the NBA draft. The Bulls dominated the Wildcats, winning in blowout fashion by a score of 89-68. With the Arizona loss, all three PAC-12 teams in the tournament were eliminated. Another four seed was taken down on day two of the tournament when the Marshall Thundering Herd won 81-76 over the Wichita St. Shockers.

On the first day of the tournament, America tuned in to watch the number one overall team in the tournament and ACC champion, Virginia Cavaliers. Nobody really took into account who they were playing, as going into the tournament, number one seeds were 132-0 against number 16 seeds. With an almost unpredictable outcome, the UMBC Retrievers became the first ever 16 seed to take down a one seed with a 74-54 victory. Unfortunately, America’s ‘Cinderella team’ were eliminated in the round of 32 by the Kansas State Wildcats by a score of 50-43.

In the round of 32, both 11 seeds managed to pull off even larger upsets over three seeds. The Loyola Ramblers, fueled by their 98-year-old chaplain Sister Jean who caught the media’s eye after their first win, took down the Tennessee Volunteers 63-62 with yet another last-second buzzer beater. Likewise, Syracuse entered the second half against the Michigan State Spartans with a three-point deficit but rallied to a 55-53 victory.

On the other hand, the 13 seeds were less fortunate in the round of 32. After blowing out one Wildcat team, the shoe was on the other foot when the Kentucky Wildcats finished strong in a 95-75 victory. As for the Marshall Thundering Herd lost in a high scoring game against the West Virginia Mountaineers by a score of 94-71.

In perhaps one of the most exciting games in the tournament, seventh seed Nevada Wolf Pack came back from a 22-point deficit to take down the two seed Cincinnati Bearcats. The comeback was tied for the second largest comeback in NCAA tournament history.

Loyola of Chicago continued their upset campaign and found themselves in the Final Four to face off against three seed and Big 10 champion Michigan Wolverines. On the other side of the bracket, the Villanova Wildcats were set to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in a battle of one seeds.

Villanova put their run on cruise control through the first four rounds winning every game by at least a margin of 12. And in a few close games, including an overtime thriller against two seed Duke Blue Devils, the Jayhawks earned their spot fighting for a trip to the title game.

Overcoming a five-point deficit and with help from a 24-point, 15-rebound game from Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, the Big 10 champions were able to end Loyola’s magical run with a score of 69-57.

Villanova managed to secure their spot in the National Championship game with a commanding 95-79 win over Kansas.

On Monday, April 2, the stage was set for Michigan to take on Villanova in the National Championship game. Down to an early seven-point deficit, the Wildcats’ sixth man, Donte DiVincenzo elevated Villanova to a nine-point halftime lead. Villanova led the rest of the way, winning by a score of 79-62 behind DiVincenzo’s strong 31-point stat line. The win marked Villanova’s third National Title and second in a three-year span.

Overall, the NCAA tournament is highly anticipated and brings excitement to college hoop fans every year. From upsets, to buzzer beaters, to epic comebacks, March Madness continues to live up to its name.

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