The men’s NCAA Tourney is usually referred to as March Madness. The tournament is played out in 63 games over the span of a couple of weeks, not including the play-in games. The tournament venues are spread throughout the country with ultimately 4 regional sites determining the Final Four participants. I personally think it is a fabulous tournament that offers so much entertainment value. I wanted to take a look at the 4 regions and any upsets that might have occurred in each. I would also like to review the Final Four and Championship Game. Lastly, I wanted to highlight some of the best games in the tournament.
The West Region was led by #1 seed Gonzaga followed by Michigan, Texas Tech, and Florida State. Some would argue that this was the weakest of all regions on paper. The 4 top teams advanced to the sweet sixteen with Gonzaga beating Florida State and Texas Tech beating up Michigan. Texas Tech was able to knock off the one seed Zags and advance to the Final Four. In the Midwest region, the top four seeds were North Carolina, Kentucky, Houston, and Kansas. That bracket seemed to have plenty of firepower, but it was the number five seed Auburn Tigers knocking off Kansas, UNC, and Kentucky to advance to the Final Four. They could officially be called Giant Killers! The East Region was chalk led by Duke, Michigan State, LSU, and Virginia Tech. The Spartans were able to win out and advance to the Final Four. The South Region was represented by Virginia, Tennessee, Purdue, and Kansas State. The first round supplied two major upsets with Kansas St and Wisconsin losing but in the end the #1 seed Cavaliers advanced to the Final Four.
As always there were fantastic, edge of your seat type games in the tournament as well as great individual performances. JA Morant was able to play 2 showcase games and prove he belongs in the discussion as one of the best players in College. Carsen Edwards from Purdue was also able to show that he belongs. He played like a man possessed and almost carried Purdue to the Final Four. Duke was able to squeak by UCF in the second round and was then able to barely sneak by Virginia Tech in the third round. They were finally knocked off by Michigan State in another nail biter, losing by a point. Purdue also played in two of the best games of the tourney by beating Tennessee and losing to Virginia. Virginia was involved in three unbelievable games by beating Purdue, Auburn, and Texas Tech in consecutive games.
The Final Four featured Michigan State playing Texas Tech and Virginia playing Auburn. As mentioned earlier, Virginia was able to knock off Auburn in a fantastic game. While Texas Tech handled Michigan State in another entertaining game. In the finals Virginia was able to beat Texas Tech in an OT thriller. It was a little over a year after being the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed. I am sure the loss helped propel this team in many ways.
At the end of every tournament you can always look back and find the winning team’s defining moment, but Virginia had three of them. There might not have been as many crazy upsets in the early rounds as usual, but the quality of the games were great. Every region had games that were nail biters, with many of the final games being outstanding to view. I enjoyed this tournament as much as any in recent memory, hopefully next year provides much of the same. I will leave you with the ever popular, “One Shining Moment“.