NCAA tournament


Creative Commons

Xavier takes the court in the round of 64.

Mitch Dreyer, Staff Writer

The 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was one to remember. There was a lot more NBA-caliber talent than usual, making for a very intriguing tourney. People across the nation filled out their brackets hoping to get lucky and pick all the right teams to win. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has offered one billion dollars to the person who fills out a perfect bracket. No one has achieved this yet, as it is nearly impossible. This tournament has the nickname “March Madness” because lower seeds commonly dethrone early favorites and the tournament bracket never ends up the way it was supposed to. The powerhouses for this year’s tournament were Virginia, Villanova, Duke, Michigan State, Purdue, and The University of Arizona.

The opening round of 64 started off with a bang. Miami, a six seed, lost to Loyola Chicago (11 seed) on a three-pointer with two seconds remaining. Arizona was said to be a sneaky pick to win the national championship due to having arguably the best player in the country, Deandre Ayton, and star guard Allonzo Trier. Both players declared for the upcoming NBA draft. They played 13 seeded Buffalo, and got shocked, losing 89-68. Buffalo hit 15 three pointers and held Ayton to 14 points. Just when one would think that nothing could top the Buffalo upset, history was made. UMBC, the lowest seeded team in the tournament (16), beat the one seeded Virginia 74-54. Virginia was the number one ranked team throughout the regular season and the heavy favorite to win the tournament. Not only did the UMBC Retrievers beat Virginia, but they demolished them. The Retrievers won 74-54. Before this game, a 16 seed has never defeated a one seed. It is one of the biggest upsets in sports history. 13 seeded Marshall also beat Wichita State 81-75. The round of 64 had nine total upsets and no one in the nation had a perfect bracket remaining after the first two days of play. “I’m pulling for Gonzaga to win, I think they have what it takes to win a national title,” said Mike Atlas’ 18.

This year’s tournament proved that anything can happen in March, even afterthe first round. The round of 32 looked to be an exciting one, where he lower seeded teams would try to prove that their first round upset wasn’t just a fluke.The cinderella story of UMBC came to an end against a good Kansas State team. UMBC lost 43-50. Loyola Chicago proved themselves when they upset Miami in the first round, but the Ramblers were not done yet. They were faced with their biggest challenge of the year, playing Tennessee, a three seed. With five seconds left, Clayton Custer hit a game winning shot that sent them to the Sweet Sixteen. Syracuse shocked the nation with win over 2nd seeded Michigan State, who was one of the favorites to win the tournament.  They won 55-53 and would be set to face a tough Duke team in the Sweet Sixteen. Nevada had the greatest comeback of the tournament  to upset 2nd seeded Cincinnati 75-73, battling back from a 22 point deficit. 9th seeded Florida State went on a roll, beating Xavier, a one seed. Texas A&M upset the reigning National Champs, UNC. Not only did they beat them, but they were in complete control the whole game winning 86-65. At this point in the tournament any team remaining had a chance to make a run for the national championship.

The Sweet Sixteen was one for the ages. Loyola Chicago stole America’s heart with their upset wins and exciting play. They beat Nevada 69-68 and rolled to the Elite Eight with all of the momentum and support in the world. Kansas State had a huge upset win over Kentucky, who was red hot coming into the game. Florida State beat Gonzaga 75-60 and continued their surprising run in this year’s tourney. Villanova, Duke, Kansas, Michigan, and Texas Tech were also headed to the Elite Eight.

Many people assumed Loyola Chicago was going to run out of luck, but they defied the odds again, beating Kansas State 78-62. Joe Brown ‘18 liked what he saw in their game against Kansas State: “I don’t think that their win streak is a fluke. They have been shooting lights out and I believe they will win it all.”  They shot over 57% from the field and 50% from three point range, absolutely insane percentages for a game. The Ramblers were the first team to punch their ticket to the Final Four. Just after, Michigan ended Florida State’s hot streak and beat them 58-54 in a defensive battle. They were set to play the Ramblers and were coming off their 13 straight wins. Duke vs Kansas was perhaps the game of the tournament. There were several lead changes throughout the game and it was tied with a few seconds left. Grayson Allen, a senior, threw up an unbalanced jumper that rimmed out as time expired. The Blue Devils were inches away from going to the Final Four. However, Kansas had different plans. They outplayed Duke in overtime and won the game 85-81. The Jayhawks were in the Final Four for their 15th time in school history. Villanova beat Texas Tech 71-59 and advanced into the Final Four as the favorite to win the whole tournament.

With a trip to the NCAA National Championship on the line, Michigan and Loyola Chicago would compete with everything they had. The underdogs, Loyola Chicago, came out of the gate in full throttle. They were up 29-22 at the half and looked to put Michigan away. However, junior forward Moritz Wagner and the Wolverines weren’t about to quit., with Wagner leading the team to a come from behind victory with his 15 rebounds and 24 points. He had six offensive rebounds and gave the Wolverines the second chances they needed to win the game. The final score was 69-57 and the incredible run Loyola Chicago made was over. The Wolverines were headed to the National Championship. Villanova played the Kansas Jayhawks and the winner would play Michigan in the championship. The Wildcats were on a mission, establishing a double digit lead early, and never let up. Eric Paschall and the Wildcats made it rain from three, setting a final four record with 18 made three-pointers. Paschall was 4-5 from behind the arc and 10-11 from the field. Villanova steamrolled passed Kansas, winning 95-79. The National Championship was set and the Wildcats started as at 6.5 point favorite.

Both teams came out firing from all cylinders, but at the end of the day, Villanova was simply the better team. However, it wasn’t college basketball player of the year Jalen Brunson who did the damage. It was sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo, who came off the bench and caught fire. He was 5-7 from three and finished with 31 points. He also had two key blocks that got the crowd chanting his name. Villanova won the game 79-62 and was the first team since 2009 to win every game in the tournament by double digits. DiVincenzo won the Final Four most valuable player award and Villanova secured their second title in three years.

For the 2019 NCAA tournament, Duke will be set as the favorite with 5-1 odds of winning the title with Villanova, Kansas, and Kentucky set with 8-1 odds.