A March Madness for the Ages

March Madness is the most wild and exciting tournament of the year for college basketball fans. Another season has come and gone and the infamous month has produced nothing short of jaw-dropping, spectacular highlights throughout every round.

The tournament, which raises billions of dollars in revenue for the NCAA, is so popular because—as its name suggests—its unpredictability is highly entertaining. The matchups themselves are hard to predict due to the sheer number of teams and variables involved.

In the NBA, the season is usually more predictable. There are only 30 teams, compared to the tournament’s 68. Moreover, the NBA is a superstar-driven league, giving heavy advantages to franchises who have been blessed with elite players like Lebron James and Kevin Durant.

Not to say that college teams with the best players do not have the same advantage. However, the collegiate playing field can be considered more even. Many times, the best teams do not win the national championship, largely because despite their players’ immense talents, the fact remains that college athletes are still amateurs at the end of the day. They are not fully matured, neither physically nor mentally, making them susceptible to fatigue and feeling the pressure during crunch time.

In line with its trademark uncertainty, this year’s men’s tournament offered one of the largest upsets in college basketball history.

UMBC (which stands for University of Maryland: Baltimore County for everyone besides those who even knew this school existed) entered the tournament as a 16 seed and beat the 1 seeded Virginia, making it the first time ever that a 16 seed has downed a 1 seed. This historic upset is indicative of how special this year’s competition turned out to be.

Villanova beat Michigan in the men’s championship in a 79 to 62 victory over Michigan, making it the second time in the last three years that they have captured the title. Sophomore guard Donte Divincenzo, who came off the bench, scored a remarkable 31 points while adding two blocks and five rebounds—making him the highest scoring bench player ever in the National Championship game. He took over the game when Villanova’s primary stars were having difficulty and was awarded the MVP of the final four.

On the women’s side, Notre Dame junior Arike Ogunbowale shined as she led the Fighting Irish to the national championship. She delivered two of the most clutch moments in tournament history, hitting game winning buzzer beating shots from the left wing in both the final four and national championship game. She offered 27 points in the Irish’ astounding upset of UConn in the semifinal round and another 18 points in the championship.

Although basketball fans remain hopeful, this year’s tournament will be a tough one to top for years to come.

Jordan may be reached at
jkenis[email protected]