NCAA Tournament Recap

Jonah White, Staff Writer

After an okay year of not too many upsets and sportscasters talking about Zion Williamson (I lost count after the first game that Duke didn’t even play in), this year of collegiate basketball has officially come to an end. Also, I don’t know about you all out there, but this was the first time I wanted to get rid of my bracket and delete every single app that it was on after day one. Before we say good-bye to the season as we prepare to head into hockey playoffs, the brunt of baseball, and the “hopefully it doesn’t take too long to get here” football seasons, let’s have a quick recap of the March (and a little bit of April) madness tournament we all know and love.

As I said before, the tournament was just very okay to watch this year because, coming from my standpoint as a semi-basketball fan whose team lost in the first round of the NIT this year, I’m all about my big upsets, and I know many others out there are the same way. The only big ones worth recognizing, I say, would have to be #12 Liberty taking on and beating a fairly strong #5 Mississippi State, #13 UC Irvine took out #4 seed Kansas State, and lastly #12 Murray State showed out for the state of Kentucky because Louisville decided not do that (sorry Cards fans) and beat #5 Marquette this year. I don’t really consider that last one too big of an upset though, and I think we all saw that one coming, especially when Murray State had a player with the caliber that Ja Morant was at.

So after all of the lackluster games, things started to get a little bit interesting when teams that were expected and favored to win, all started to drop like flies around those elite eight games. The first one that surprised me and made me rip my bracket to shreds was Auburn’s stomping of North Carolina, who I may or may not have had as winning it all this year unfortunately. Duke and the crazy good (totally an understatement but if I had a penny for every time his name left a sportscaster’s mouth I’d be debt free) Zion Williamson’s run finally came to an end after losing to Michigan State by just one point in the elite eight round. A lot of people would argue that they should’ve lost in the two rounds before, so it would seem their luck could not carry them through. Purdue knocked out SEC powerhouse Tennessee after surmounting a huge comeback and winning it in overtime 99-94, which was arguably one of the best games of the tournament to watch. Then, somehow, Texas Tech, a team hardly anyone expected, made it all the way to the final game, which we’ll get to that.

Probably the second biggest story to come out of the NCAA College Basketball tournament this year would be how atrocious everyone out there (besides Virginia fans) thought the officiating was during those last few games. Of course, I am speaking about the few games that Duke were in that led to some controversial calls and could have swayed how the game ended, but I am obviously also talking about the huge missed call during the end of the Virginia and Auburn game. The refs missed a blatant double dribble call on Virginia, which led to them calling a foul on Auburn that very same possession that allowed Virginia to take the lead by three free-throws, which ultimately decided the game. It was almost as bad as that missed pass interference call in the Saints/Rams playoff game this year in the NFL. If the refs would not have missed that call, the NCAA would have most likely crowned a different champion this year, one that no one had expected, which personally, I think would have been much better.

That being said, I finally want to talk about the biggest story that came out of the tournament this year, and that is how huge and awesome Virginia’s redemption story was. Just a year ago, Virginia made history by being the first #1 seed ever to lose to a #16 seed who were the Retrievers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, UMBC for short. It was incredible to see Tony Bennett’s Virginia go from that embarrassing loss to being crowned the 2019 National Champions and being entered in the history books. All in all, it has been another great year for sports. A lot of history has been made, and it has been so awesome for all of us to be able witness that. Here’s to hoping for another phenomenal year in the sports world!