A closing look at March Madness

Not quite madness this year

March Madness came and went, and we were given another year of drama, upsets and controversy, all the things we could ever ask for. Now that it’s come to a close, it is nice to look back and reflect on what the past three weeks have brought us.

For those here at NDSU, the tournament was extra special this year. The Bison made it to the “First Four” after winning the Summit League Tournament. They started their March Madness journey taking on NC Central.

The Herd charged past Central with a 78-74 victory, including 23 points from Tyson Ward. The next obstacle would be Duke, the overall top seed in the tournament. Duke would be no easy match with their star player Zion Williamson expected to go No. 1 overall in this year’s NBA Draft.

NDSU held their own in the first half, trailing only by four. However, the Blue Devils quickly broke away, eventually beating out the Bison 85-62. It was a sad loss, but with no seniors on the team, you can expect the Herd to make another solid run for the tournament next year.

Looking at the rest of the tournament, we start with the “Round of 64.” The biggest upset of the round came in the form of No. 13 UC Irvine blowing past No. 4 Kansas State.

The No. 5 versus No. 12 seed games saw a lot of upsets as well. Liberty took down Mississippi St, Murray state beat Marquette and Oregon made the stop on Wisconsin. The only five seed to survive the first round was Auburn.

The No. 7 versus No. 10 seed games followed a similar trend with three of the four No. 10 seeds beating out the No. 7 seeds. Iowa beat Cincinnati, Minnesota beat Louisville and Florida beat Nevada. The sole survivor was Wofford.

Beyond these, an Ohio State win over Iowa State and all the No. 9 seeds beating No. 8 seeds, every other game was pretty standard, and the next round of play began.

The second round didn’t see nearly as many upsets as its predecessor. The only one came when No. 5 Auburn blew out No. 4 Kansas 89-75.

Duke was almost taken down by No. 9 UCF. After a missed free throw, Duke scored two points to take a 77-76 lead with 11 seconds left on the clock. The self-proclaimed national football champions had two looks at the basket in the last seconds, but couldn’t convert.

Meanwhile, the rest of the No. 1 seeds silently slid their way into the Sweet 16. The teams in the third round, with a couple of exceptions, were by no means a surprise. The only real shock in the Sweet 16, and the only double-digit seed, was No. 12 Oregon, a poorly seeded power conference team.

North Carolina became the first No. 1 seed to leave the field, taking a 97-80 loss to Auburn. It was the only upset in the Sweet 16 with the seeds being more than one different.

The Elite Eight was filled with upsets. Only one No. 1 seed escaped, with Virginia making the Final Four. Duke and Gonzaga were dumped out by Michigan State and Texas Tech, respectively.

Texas Tech, spurred on by a former Summit League player Matt Mooney, won their first Final Four game, knocking off the Spartans 51-61.

The other game in Minneapolis came with controversy. With nothing on the clock, Auburn was up 62-60 and was headed to the championship game when a whistle blew for a foul. Virginia was given three free throws, and their season rested on the shoulders of Kyle Guy. Guy, under pressure, sunk all three to take a 63-62 lead and won the game.

So, a year after becoming the first No. 1 to lose to a No. 16, the Cavaliers completed the turnaround to take the title. It was expected to be a lower scoring affair, but it turned out to be a scoring fest in the last five minutes of regulation.

The Red Raiders fought back from a 10-point second half deficit, and the game went to overtime. There, the Cavaliers got some offense to hold on for the first national championship in school history.

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