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March Madness Recap

The Biggest Tournament in the Nation was Everything Advertised

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March Madness Recap

Virginia celebrates their first national championship

Virginia celebrates their first national championship

c/o Getty Images

Virginia celebrates their first national championship

c/o Getty Images

c/o Getty Images

Virginia celebrates their first national championship

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Pre-tournament Headlines

Most college basketball fans begin watching in late February to early March. Teams were beginning to compete for a conference championship, which entitles an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament. Duke dominated the entire ACC, capturing the conference championship. Auburn rallied and ran through the SEC tournament upsetting Tennessee in the conference final. Villanova, the defending national champion, snuck into the tournament by capturing the Big East tournament title.

 

Key 1st Round Games

12 Murray State Beats 5 Marquette in Dominating Fashion

Murray State point guard Ja Morant stated his case for this year’s best tournament game performance, scoring 17 points grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 16 assists registering only the 9th triple double in NCAA tournament history and leading Murray State to a 83-64 victory over Marquette.

 

1 Virginia holds of an old fate against 16 Gardner-Webb

Virginia trailed Gardner-Webb 36-30 at the half, almost replicating a loss to 16th seeded UMBC last year. Virginia relaxed and began to fire on all cylinders holding off the Gardner-Webb offense to win 71-56.

 

13 UC Irvine stunts 4 Kansas State in a statement win

The biggest upset of the first round took place on the night cap of day 2. A talented UC Irvine team caught fire and stunted the Kansas State offense late in the game. There was no looking back for the Anteaters as they cruised to a 70-64 win to end the first round with a a bang.

 

2nd Round Games

5 Auburn runs 4 Kansas with a shooting barrage

Auburn had made a case of being the hottest shooting team in the tournament fresh off beating 2 Tennessee in the SEC conference tournament. Well, the case was ruled in favor of the Tigers who shot 43.3% on 3 point attempts to quickly dispatch the famed Kansas team 89-75.

 

2 Kentucky shuts down 7 Wofford

Wofford was the perfect Cinderella story: Dominant throughout the regular season, great shooting, and great team play. Though when they squared of with Kentucky, none of that could save them. The Kentucky game plan was perfect and smothered Wofford whenever they went to shoot the ball. Kentucky won the contest 62-56.

 

12 Oregon rolls 13 UC Irvine

Oregon, fresh off a PAC 12 championship, made themselves a clear eye in the media when they dispatched 5 Wisconsin in the first round, and followed that off with a dominant win over UC Irvine 73-54. Oregon would be the highest seed at 12 to clinch the Sweet Sixteen.

 

Sweet Sixteen Key Games

3 Texas Tech dominates last year’s National Runner-Up 2 Michigan

A battle of good defenses and good coaching wasn’t really a battle at all. Texas Tech smothered the Michigan offense. Add that to a 22 point night by shooting guard Jarrett Culver, and it was a recipe for Texas Tech victory. Texas Tech defeated Michigan 63-44, punching their ticket to the Elite Eight.

 

3 Purdue needs 40 minutes and extra time to hold off 2 Tennessee

Purdue to most was a weak 3 seed. Tennessee was underrated in many people’s eyes and had a chance to win the national championship. After a rough first half by Tennessee, Purdue felt they were in the driver’s seat to cruise to the Elite Eight. Though Tennessee caught fire, rallying back from 18 points down to force overtime, Purdue point guard Carson Edwards was not willing to see his tournament run end so soon. With his 29-point effort, Purdue was able to hold off the scare and advance to the Elite Eight.

 

5 Auburn Continues the Magical Run Beating 1 North Carolina

Two of the best players of team basketball squared off in a Sweet Sixteen matchup with all the buzz. Auburn seemed to not miss, while North Carolina seemed to have every open shot. When the dust settled Auburn had shot 45.9% on 3 point field goals, and had 97 points on the scoreboard. Even North Carolina couldn’t top that falling short 97-80.

 

Elite Eight Key Game

2 Michigan State defeats 1 Duke by the Smallest of Margins

A game that many predicted from the start was finally played during the Elite Eight. Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo vs. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, a matchup of two of the best coaches of the decade. The game had all the big name,s as forward Zion Williamson dropped 24 points, and Big Ten Player of the Year Cassius Winston had 20. Duke seemingly had nothing left in the tank after playing close games the past 5 days. Michigan State would hold the victory 68-67 and advance to the Final Four.

 

3 Texas Tech shocks 1 Gonzaga

It was a full team effort by Texas Tech, whose notorious defense worked wonders throughout the contest. Gonzaga, a phenomenal shooting team, only shot 26.9% on 3pt field goals. Texas Tech and their never-say-die mentality helped them rally back from a 2nd half deficit to win 75-69 and advance to the Final Four.

 

Final Four Key Games

3 Texas Tech shuts down 2 Michigan State

The BIG Ten champions seemingly had no place on the court with Texas Tech. From tip off to the final whistle Texas Tech smothered the ball and Michigan State could not find open shots. Add that to a captivating performance by Texas Tech shooting guard Matt Mooney in which he scored 22 points. In total, Texas Tech would advance to the championship by a score of 61-51.

 

1 Virginia pulls of some late game heroics to defeat 5 Auburn

A contest between two of the hottest teams left in the tournament was everything as advertised. Auburn seemingly had the game wrapped up in the final minutes. They had taken the Virginia transition defense to the limits, and were now about to clinch a championship appearance. Enter Kyle Guy. The senior guard, who bleeds Virginia basketball, took the ball down the court as the clock ticked away. He dribbled to the corner and hit a contested 3 point field goal. This was followed by a stellar defense possession and another 3 point field goal, which he was fouled on. Guy hit all 3 free throws with just .6 seconds left on the clock. Virginia had set their date with Texas Tech in the championship by a score of 63-62.

 

Championship Game

1 Virginia defeats 3 Texas Tech to claim first national championship

The tournament run for Virginia had been a culmination of past seasons and their talented senior class. Not even the famed Texas Tech defense could set the pace against the Virginia offense. Add that to a dominant Virginia defense of their own, and points became no easy task for Texas Tech. After a strong 2nd half surge, Virginia was tied up with Texas Tech and the two braced themselves for overtime. Virginia fed the ball to small forward Deandre Hunter, who, in the end, would help Virgina build to much of a gap. He finished the game with 27 points. As the final whistle sound Virginia would hoist the trophy for the first time in their history. The final score was 85-77, and with that March Madness came to a close.

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