Tension, excitement builds: It’s finally March Madness

This year, the NCAA Divison I men’s basketball season has seen the rise and fall of powerhouse teams. The number one team, as ranked by the Associated Press, changed six times during the regular season. Indiana University, Duke University, University of Louisville, University of Michigan and Gonzaga University have all held and lost the coveted spot.

“It’s been a really rocky season,” said Writing Director and Tar Heels fan Parag Budhecha. “The top 10, even top 20 teams, keep doing really well and then not doing so well.”
The madness began with the conference tournaments. University of Miami topped the Atlantic Coast Conference for their first title. Louisville dominated the Big East. Ohio State University triumphed in the Big 10. University of Kansas conquered the Big 12. Gonzaga prevailed in the West Coast.

After the conference tournaments ended, the country anxiously waited for Selection Sunday. Louisville in the Midwest, Gonzaga in the West, Kansas in the South and Indiana in the East were given number one seeds. However, this position did not promise smooth sailing to the Final Four. Only Louisville survived the first five rounds.
“You’re going to see a lot of teams that might not be seeded too high win, let’s say a two seed playing a ten seed or something,” said PE Center Manager Michael Merkel. “I think it’s really balanced. Seeds won’t be that important.”

Merkel’s prediction proved true in the second round. Second seed Georgetown University fell to 15th seed Florida Gulf Coast University and third seed University of New Mexico fell to 14th seed Harvard University.
“FGCU over Georgetown and Harvard over New Mexico (were the most shocking games),” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students and Indiana fan Aaron Fetrow via email.

The third round dangled a spot in the Sweet Sixteen in front of hungry teams. Some games were hard fought, like the game between 12th seeded University of Mississippi and 13th seeded La Salle University, won by La Salle who scored with two and a half seconds left on the clock.
Other highly ranked teams crushed their opponents, like Louisville, Michigan State University and University of Arizona, while University of Oregon upset Saint Louis University and Cinderella Wichita State University knocked out Gonzaga.

“Gonzaga’s flop wasn’t a real surprise,” said Fetrow. “I think Miami should have been the other number one seed as the ACC regular season and conference champ.”
In the Sweet Sixteen, two of the remaining number one seeds fell to fourth seeds. The University of Michigan surprised Kansas. With two and a half minutes left, Michigan had a 14–4 run, concluded by a three pointer by Trey Burke, to send the game into overtime. Michigan prevailed by two points in overtime.
Syracuse University defeated Indiana by 11 points to advance to the Elite Eight. Wichita State, Duke, Ohio State, University of Florida and Marquette University completed the Elite Eight.
In the next round, Louisville’s Kevin Ware jumped up to block a shot, but when he landed awkwardly, his leg snapped right out of the skin. After Ware was removed from the court and taken to a hospital, an emotional Louisville triumphed over Duke.

In a Cinderella story, Wichita State dominated Ohio State, advancing to face Louisville in the Final Four.
Michigan easily advanced past Florida, and Syracuse’s length was the difference over Marquette. The battle of Michigan’s offense versus Syracuse’s two-three zone set up a final-like atmosphere.

“Syracuse’s defense is psycho,” said Instructional Technology Librarian and Indiana fan Jessica Sender. “Syracuse is just the tallest team. They stand around and people just run into them.”
With four teams remaining and brackets destroyed, it is time to predict who will reach the championship game.
“Wichita should win it all because they’re the underdog,” said senior and Tar Heels fan Traynham Larson. “Whoever wins the Louisville-Wichita game will beat Michigan in the final.”
“I have Louisville winning it all,” said Fetrow. “I had to pick with my head instead of my heart in the final game.”
“I think Louisville is going to have a lot of momentum coming off this big injury, so that’s going to overshadow any Cinderella story,” said Sender, who has picked Lousiville to defeat Syracuse in the final game.

As for me, I have picked Michigan to beat Syracuse. Wichita State had an impressive run, but there is no stopping Louisville. At last, Louisville will be the only team to survive March Madness.