March Madness recap and Final Four preview

Thomas Nealon, Staff Writer

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This year’s NCAA March Madness has offered everything a college basketball fan can want. So far, there have been 12 major upsets in the tournament and multiple overtime games.

According to ESPN.com, only one person still had a chance at a perfect bracket after the first round, but even his dreams were crushed when Ohio State failed to upset Arizona.

Nevertheless, it is still very entertaining to watch march madness, especially with the exciting action that has occurred this year.

The best team in the country, the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, should have lost to Jerian Grant and the Irish in the Elite 8, but the composure of big time players like Karl Anthony-Towns and the Harrison twins lead the comeback for the Wildcats who barely pulled out a 68-66 victory.

Let’s not forget about the fact that two 14 seeds beat out respected programs from the Big 12, Iowa State and Baylor. Georgia State went on a 13-0 run in the last four minutes against Baylor, a game that was ultimately decided by an R.J. Hunter game-winning three pointer with 2.6 seconds left.

One seeds Duke and Wisconsin cruised their way into the Final Four with help from their First Team All-Americans, Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor.

Wisconsin and Kaminsky knocked off UNC in the Sweet 16, then Arizona in the Elite 8. The game was a good win for Wisconsin considering that was a rematch of last year’s Elite 8 game was very close. Sam Decker stepped up for the Badger’s and hit some clutch threes down the stretch to secure the 85-78 win over Arizona.

Meanwhile on the South side of the bracket, Okafor and Duke demolished teams on their quest to the Final Four. They breezed past San Diego State and Utah, and eventually pulled away late in a game against Gonzaga. Justise Winslow has been a key factor in Duke’s success, he is aggressive in offensive transition and drives at defenders to create optimal scoring chances for Duke and Coach K, who is now tied with John Wooden with 12 Final Four appearances for the most of all time.

However, other major programs weren’t as lucky. Number one seed Villanova and two seeds Virginia and Kansas all fell in the round of 32, shattering many brackets across the United States. But the unexpected exits paved the way for many underestimated teams to make deep runs in the tournament.

After an early exit last year, Fred Van Fleet and the Wichita State Shockers pulled off a well-respected upset verse in state rival Kansas. UCLA also surprised many with their upset over SMU. Granted, the game was decided by a questionable goaltending call, but a win is a win.

But by far the greatest Cinderella of the tournament has been Michigan State. Coach Tom Izzo always has his boys ready to play come tournament time. The Spartans, lead by Travis Trice and Denzel Valentine have dominated top programs like Virginia, Oklahoma, and even Louisville, who took them to over time.

But as of now, out of the 68 original teams who had a chance at winning it all, there are only four teams that remain. Coach John Calipari and Kentucky will face off against Kaminsky and Wisconsin and Michigan State will play Okafor and Duke.

Statistics and records point to Kentucky cutting down the net. But if we as fans have learned anything from the tournament, it is that anything can happen and nothing is given. It very well could be the seventh seeded Spartans that win it all.

But needless to say this weekend will be very entertaining. As painful as it might be to watch another season of college basketball conclude, nothing can be more exciting than the madness of March.

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