Basketball viewers experienced unexpected during March Madness

Baylor celebrates winning the NCAA tournament for the first time in their school's history.

Photo used with permission from Google Commons

Baylor celebrates winning the NCAA tournament for the first time in their school’s history.

Last month, sports viewers experienced the return of March Madness. The time of year brought stress, madness, anxiety and broken brackets. “I think people looked forward to March Madness this year because we didn’t have one last year, and it makes people feel like things are actually going back to normal,” sophomore Sebastian Rodriguez said.

The story of basketball at the start of the tournament this year was whether or not Gonzaga could go undefeated. According to the Sale website, Gonzaga was the favorite “mostly because the roster is loaded, led by senior forward Corey Kispert, sophomore center Drew Timme, and five-star freshman point guard Jalen Suggs.”

The tournament started, and we were quickly reminded about what makes March Madness so special since after the first weekend, we had 15 upsets, one of them being the 15-seed Oral Roberts beating the two-seed Ohio State. “Oral Roberts winning the number of games they did. I was shocked that they actually kept winning,” Rodriguez said.

Besides that big upset, Texas lost to Abilene Christian in the first round as well. According to ESPN, “It was ugly, physical basketball, exactly the formula for the Wildcats to pull off the upset. They had the seventh-best scoring defense in the country this season, giving up just 60 points per game. They smothered Nicholls State in the Southland Conference title game, holding the Colonels to 45 points in a 34-point victory.”

The Maryland Terrapins also upset UConn, which took out the remaining perfect brackets. As per the Fox 4 website, “The No. 10 Maryland Terrapins defeated the No. 7 UConn Huskies in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 63-54. Their victory means that there are no longer any perfect brackets remaining, according to the NCAA.”

After the first weekend, the upsets went down to the point where the 11-seed UCLA, who had to play in the first four-game made it to the final four. According to the Indy Star, “The Bruins are the fifth No. 11 to make the Final Four. They join LSU in 1986, George Mason in 2006, VCU in 2011, and Loyola Chicago in 2018. Those teams lost in their respective national semifinals.”

The other teams that made it to the final were Gonzaga, Baylor and Houston, and the final four became a what-if story. The NCAA website said, “On the brink of a championship weekend that so many have worked so hard to get to — coaches, players, health professionals, NCAA staffers, Indianapolis volunteers and faces no one will ever know — we can tell the uniqueness of the closing drama by all the what-ifs. And the cutouts in the courtside seats.”

While Baylor rolled through Houston, the Gonzaga vs UCLA game was intense and it looked like it was going to go into double overtime until Jalen Suggs hit a buzzer beater to give Gonzaga a berth in the championship game. “I think that the Jalen Suggs buzzer was amazing because a true freshman decided the fate of the entire Gonzaga program which is a historical basketball program and sent them to the finals,” Sophomore Brian Haugabook said.

The championship game was Baylor vs Gonzaga and while Gonzaga was expected to win, Baylor blew out Gonzaga with great shooting and strong defense. “Baylor’s proved that defense wins championships with their tight man-to-man defense,” Haugabook said.

The final part of March Madness was the shining moment video that recapped the entire tournament. Fans loved “seeing how everything unfolded but quicker and more condensed,” Rodriguez said.