This past March was filled with crazy upsets that proved to everyone why predictability is never a guarantee. The top bracket on the ESPN bracket challenge didn’t even predict the Elite Eight completely correct. At CHS, the only two brackets to guess the finals correctly were entries from junior Lyon Teesdale, and sophomore Isaac Bryant.
According to the ESPN bracket challenge, only 2.18 percent of people who created a bracket this year predicted the UMBC win over Virginia. Virginia was upset by 20 points, 74 to 54, proving that no game is a guaranteed win for any team.
The next surprise was Loyola Chicago who made it to the Final Four. They haven’t been to the Final since 1963, when they went on to win the National Championship, too. This year, they won each of their first three games with buzzer beaters.
“Gotta cheer for the underdog,” said freshman Max Van Horn, who cheered for Loyola Chicago.
Texas A&M dominated UNC in the second round which was a huge surprise to many. Texas A&M took advantage of their rebounding, physicality and superior size to destroy UNC. UNC also shot 19.4 percent from three and 33.3 percent from the floor, which didn’t help their case. Syracuse was also a surprising team, making it to the Sweet 16 after defeating Michigan State in the round of 32. Florida State also surprised many as they upset high seeds, they beat Gonzaga and Missouri in the first two rounds but also beat the first seed, Xavier, in the West quadrant of the bracket. Three teams with with seeds above eight made it to the elite eight and two top seeds survived to the final four.
This year, UNC was not expected to win it all, but they were predicted to go pretty far in the tournament, especially by Carrboro students. Texas A&M had a different idea. Texas A&M’s group of “big men” proved to be a mismatch against the young UNC centers who were out rebounded by 50 to 36. Although it was a short and sad ending for one North Carolina team, Duke’s talented freshman class led them to the Elite Eight where they played Devonte Graham’s fierce Kansas team. Grayson Allen had the opportunity to send the Blue Devils to the Final Four but he barely missed the game winning shot, which took the game into overtime where his team ended up losing by four.
“I cried tears after the Kansas game,” said sophomore Isabel Simmons, a Duke fan.
“Experience definitely overshadowed talent especially in the Duke vs Kansas game,” said Elijah Jones, junior and also a Duke fan.
It wasn’t the year for any of the main North Carolina college basketball teams, but the experienced Villanova team that destroyed Michigan in the finals 79 to 62.
In the end, March was clustered with surprises and upsets that no one could have foreseen. Despite the unexpected turn of events, it didn’t come as much of a shock to see a strong and disciplined Villanova team go on to win the title, thanks to an amazing performance from Donte Divincenzo. Divincenzo finished the season with 31 points and five rebounds.
Duke and UNC are going to have very young and talented teams but it will be hard to tell whether either of these two teams can win it all because we don’t know how they will play with the majority of the teams being talented freshman.