March Madness gets insane

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March Madness gets insane

First team All-Americans R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson exchange a high five.

First team All-Americans R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson exchange a high five.

photo provided

First team All-Americans R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson exchange a high five.

photo provided

photo provided

First team All-Americans R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson exchange a high five.

CASON WHITE, North Staff Writer

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Once again the month of March has rolled around and the NCAA basketball tournaments have come and gone. Mens basketball in the NCAA this year was surrounded by the hype of one team in particular: the Duke Blue Devils. As usual, Duke began the season as a highly regarded favorite to win the March tournament, but there was even more reason for that this season. Duke was able to land the top three high school recruits in the nation in form of Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish. At the conclusion of the regular season, Duke earned its respective first seed with a 29-5 record.

The three remaining number one seeds were Gonzaga (30-3), Virginia (29-3), and North Carolina (27-6). The luxury of being placed as a one seed comes with the perk of being matched with the lowest seeded team in your respective division (16 seed) in the first round. While it is the easiest route to the National Championship, there has been one instance in which a 16 seed has defeated the first seed and it came last season when the University of Maryland – Baltimore County beat Virginia.  However, there was no instance of this happening for the 2019 tournament.

Each of the number one slotted teams were able to advance to the Sweet 16. The first one seed to drop was North Carolina, at the hands of fifth seed Auburn in a blowout game where Auburn completely dominated, ultimately taking the victory with a  97-80. All other one seeds advanced to play in the Elite 8.

Although Duke was favored to win the tourney, they were shocked by two seed Michigan State. In a tightly contested battle, Duke lost in the final seconds of the game. The final score was 68-67, in Mich. St.’s favor. Duke had battled hard to make it as far as they did, winning their two prior games by just two points in the Sweet 16, and by only one in the round of 32. Led by the National Player of the Year, Williamson, the Blue Devils proved that they didn’t have what it takes to become the National Champions.

The Final Four was headlined by two-seed Michigan State vs. three-seed Texas Tech, and one-seed Virginia vs. five-seed Auburn. Both games were tightly contested, but resulted in a National Championship matchup of Texas Tech vs. Virginia. A game that was very rarely predicted amongst bracket-creators, only .3 percent of all brackets held this final matchup.

The National Championship game conducted on April 8 was a thrill for spectators. The Virginia Cavaliers commanded control over the Red Raiders for the entirety of the game until a late comeback led by projected number four prospect in the NBA draft Jarrett Culver brought Tech within one point with just four minutes remaining. The Raiders took lead in the final minute of the game, but with just 12 seconds remaining Virginia star De’Andre Hunter hit a game saving three-pointer to tie the contest. The game went into overtime where the Cavaliers took lead and never looked back. Virginia went on to win with a score of 85-77.

Hunter led all scorers with an impressive 27 point night to help elevate the Cavaliers over the Red Raiders. From National disappointment just a season ago, to National Champions in 2019, the Virginia Cavaliers proved their worth with their first ever National Championship.

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