On Saturday, April 2, the Final Four will commence. The Villanova Wild Cats will take on the Oklahoma Sooners at 4:09 p.m. MST, and North Carolina will face Syracuse at 6:49 p.m. MST, both will be on TBS. These times are subject to change, but the NCAA has assured the second game will start 40 minutes after the first game. With the Final Four already set, let us take a look back at this years March Madness tournament to see how we got from 64 teams down to just four.
The first round took place over March 17-18 and featured two full days of any basketball. Per usual, there were several upsets during the first few days of the tournament. Including: 13 Hawaii over 4 California, 14 Stephen F. Austin over 3 West Virginia and the seemingly always present 15 seed over the 2 seed when Middle Tennessee beat Michigan State, but none was a better story than 12 Yale over 5 Baylor. Yale continued its dominant championship season in the Ivy League to win its first NCAA tournament game in over 50 years. This 79-75 victory was led by Yale’s leading scorer Makai Mason, who set a school record for tournament points with 31 points, and a perfect 11-11 from the line.
The second round was dominated by the ACC. Taking place during March 19-20, 1 North Carolina, 1 Virginia, 3 Miami, 4 Duke, 6 Notre Dame and 10 Syracuse all advanced to the sweet sixteen totaling 6 ACC teams. Oklahoma advances as Buddy Hield continues his dominance in a win over Virginia Commonwealth, and Oregon proves again why they are a one seed as they beat Saint Joseph’s.
The round of 32 had its fair share of upsets as well, as 5 Indiana beat 4 Kentucky, 7 Wisconsin beat 2 Xavier and 11 Gonzaga took out 3 Utah. The best moment of this round was easily 3 Texas A&M over 11 UNI, who was an obvious underdog, but after leading by double digits with less than 30 seconds left victory was in sight. Texas A&M employed a trap centered full-court defense and caused multiple turnovers to achieve a historic comeback eliminating a ten-point deficit to win the double overtime thriller.
The Sweet Sixteen played out on March 24 and March 25, and played out the way the higher seeds wanted as no upsets were recorded this round. Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia all advanced making it the first time in since 2009 that all number one seeds advanced to the elite 8. Those advancements meant it was the last game for the offensive minded Iowa St., who met their match when facing the number one defense in Virginia, and Duke exited the Sweet tournament, but not without causing a bit of scandal between Coach K, and Oregon’s Dillon Brooks. Buddy Hield continued to be the tournaments best player, when he put up a 17 point and 10 rebound double-double which helped Oklahoma defeat Texas A&M 77-63.
This past weekend the Elite Eight enjoyed a lot more drama than its previous round as three of the four one seeds were eliminated from the tournament. 1 Kansas, 1 Oregon and 1 Virginia were all eliminated from contention. 1 UNC dominated fellow ACC member 6 Notre Dame to the tune of a 14-point victory and the biggest margin of the round. Jim Boeheim continues to Coach his team past expectations as No. 10 Syracuse earns a bid to the Final Four. They overcame a second half deficit to shock Virginia. The story of the weekend was, again, Buddy Hield, who enjoyed a 37 point, 7 Assist and 5 rebound night. Hield continued his three-point dominance when he shot 8-13 from three, and he tallied his twelfth 30-point game of the season in 2 Oklahoma’s, 80-68, victory over 1 Oregon.
The Final Four is set for April 2, on TBS, and the Championship Game will be Monday, April 4. Time and channel have yet to be set by the NCAA for the Championship Game. In regards to the future of the tournament I look to the star who has already shined brightest in it, Buddy Hield. The NCAA tournament is so interesting in large part because the regardless of the team, it all comes down to the randomness of a one game sample. I maintain that in one game samples the team with the best player will win, and the best player is Buddy Hield.
Oklahoma Sooners over Villanova Wildcats
North Carolina Tar Heels over Syracuse Orange
Oklahoma Sooners over North Carolina Tar Heels
Final Score: 80-76