Villanova defeated Michigan 79-64 to cut down the nets on Monday night in San Antonio. March Madness has come to a close, but some events from the tournament will stick with us for years. Here’s a look at the top 10 moments from this year’s tournament.
- Texas Tech makes its first Elite 8 in school history.
- Marshall shocks the Shockers.
- Nevada vs. Texas
- Keenan Evans’ alley-oop to Zhaire Smith against Florida
- UNC loses in the second round.
10. Syracuse does it again
Many people, myself included, believed Syracuse didn’t belong in the field. The Orange did exactly what they did a few years ago and proved the committee right by making a surprise appearance in the Sweet 16. After defeating Arizona State in the First Four and TCU in the first round, the Orange upset trendy Final Four pick Michigan State 55-53 to advance to the second weekend. They didn’t get past Duke in the Sweet 16, but they made us all learn one thing: never doubt the Orange come March.
9. Improbable runs from a couple of nine seeds
There are always a few teams in the tournament that go on a surprise run. This year’s tournament featured two surprises in nine seeds Florida State and Kansas State. Unlike Loyola-Chicago, neither team was riding a hot streak entering the tournament. They truly came out of nowhere. Leonard Hamilton’s Florida State squad avenged last year’s second-round loss to Xavier with a second-round victory against the No. 1 Musketeers in this year’s tournament. K-State lucked out by not having to face No. 1 Virginia in the second round, but its run to the Elite Eight was still impressive. Without star player Dean Wade, the Wildcats played inspired basketball en route to a surprising Elite Eight appearance. March is some time of year, man.
8. Buffalo stampedes Arizona
Arizona was probably the trendiest pick to win the national championship after dominating the Pac-12 tournament. Many experts were predicting the Wildcats to make a run out of the South region to the Final Four. Sean Miller’s squad met a pesky Buffalo team in the first round. The Bulls dominated the Wildcats 89-68 in what was one of the most puzzling results in this year’s tournaments.
7. UMBC Twitter
Spoiler alert: This isn’t the only time UMBC is on this list. Shocker, I know. The Retrievers deserve to have two spots on this list. @UMBCAthletics gained more than 104,000 followers after UMBC’s monumental upset of No. 1 Virginia. The Twitterverse fell in love with the Retrievers’ twitter account thanks to heavy roasting of public figures and cringy, self-aware tweets. UMBC, we thank you for the memories.
6. Donte’s inferno
In Monday night’s national championship game, Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to score 31 points, lifting Villanova to its second championship in three seasons. The man they call the “Big Ragu” scored 18 points in the first half to give the Wildcats a halftime lead. His 31 points in the game set the record for the most a bench player has scored in a championship game.
5. Nevada’s comeback against Cincinnati
With fewer than 12 minutes to go, Cincinnati held a 22-point lead in its second-round game against Nevada. The Wolfpack wouldn’t give up, though. They began to chip away and ultimately pulled off the second-biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history. This was the Pack’s second comeback in the tournament after defeating Texas in the first round. They closed the game on a 32-8 run. I still don’t know how it happened.
4. Jordan Poole’s buzzer beater vs. Houston
Michigan had no business winning its second-round game against Houston, yet it ended up playing for the national championship on Monday night. This just goes to show how crazy the tournament is. Coach John Beilein’s solidly drawn-up play and a little bit of luck gave us the tournament’s most memorable buzzer beaters. After Poole’s game winner, he sprinted around the court, avoiding his storming teammates. Even Beilein got in on the postgame celebration in the locker room. March brings out the best in all of us.
3. Duke vs. Kansas
Duke and Kansas brought us the best game in the entire tournament. The two teams traded blows throughout the game. The game was close the entire time, and it felt like whoever had the ball last was going to win. Grayson Allen’s final shot of regulation was a few inches away from falling and sending the Blue Devils to the Final Four. Malik Newman took advantage of Allen’s miss and was fabulous in overtime, scoring all 13 of KU’s points. This game had it all: two blue bloods battling it out in a close-fought game with the winner headed to the Final Four.
2. Loyola-Chicago, Sister Jean steal America’s hearts
The mid-major universities’ impact on the tournament make it memorable year after year. Everyone loves to root for the small schools, and it was no different with Loyola-Chicago. America’s darling took advantage of its first tournament appearance in 33 years. A strong group of selfless, team-first players led the Ramblers on a run to remember. They became just the fourth 11-seed ever to make the Final Four, the lowest seed in tournament history to do so. They won their first three games by a combined four points and knocked down some impressive game-winning shots. Best of all? Their leader was a 98-year old nun. Loyola-Chicago and Sister Jean, you have our hearts.
1. UMBC makes history
They said it couldn’t be done. There was no way a 16 seed could ever defeat a one seed. It definitely would’ve never been the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament and a team that had one of the best defensive seasons in recent memory. Well, the Retrievers did just that. They knocked down big shot after big shot and absolutely demolished Virginia. The Retrievers won America over with their humor, their Twitter and their Fortnite celebrations from the bench. This is an upset we will all still remember 30 years from now. Good doggies. Good doggies.