By Alex Gendron
March Madness is one of the most exciting times of the year for sports fans. There is a constant stream of college basketball games happening for a whole month. What’s not to like about that? The tension and nervousness that the games bring to fans make them keep on watching. Possibly the most exciting part about March Madness is making a bracket. Where fans pick every team that they think will win every game up until the Championship game. Making a perfect bracket is not as easy as it sounds. There is a 1 in 9.2 quintillion chance that someone makes a perfect bracket. That is why it has never been done before and will most likely not happen for a long time to come.
March Madness this year was certainly one for the ages. After a two-year absence from the tournament due to COVID, there were a lot of people intrigued in the tournament. There were also a lot of Cinderella stories in this year’s tournament. I am sure most people were unaware of the college Oral Roberts before the tournament started. Now, almost everybody who keeps up with the tournament knows about them. Led by Max Abmas and Kevin O’Bannor, the golden eagles of Oral Roberts were able to make it to the sweet sixteen as a 15 seed. To put that in perspective, the lowest seed a team can get in the tournament is 16. They beat Ohio State and Florida in tight games that were decided by the last play, but Oral Roberts was able to shock everyone. They will be remembered by fans for years to come.
Another Cinderella story in this year’s tournament was the Bruins of UCLA. Normally, UCLA is one of the best teams in the tournament, especially since they lead college basketball in national championships with 11. However this year, the Bruins barely made it into the tournament. They were put in the first four which are made up of the last 4 teams to be eligible for the tournament. They were able to beat Michigan State in a tight game. They were then expected to lose to 6 seeded BYU, but they beat them as well. Then, after wins over Abilene, Christian, and Alabama, the 11 seeded Bruins were in the elite eight where they faced the 1 seeded Michigan Wolverines. It was a tight battle that was decided by a missed shot by Franz Wagner which sent UCLA to the final four. They were only the second team to ever make the final four from the first four. Not to mention their star player, Johnny Juzang, made the all-tournament first team. It was certainly an incredible run by UCLA.
Even though the tournament presented a lot of upsets, the national championship still ended up being a 1 seed versus another 1 seed. The Gonzaga Bulldogs had entered the tournament undefeated and did not stop in the tournament. Without losing a single game, they made it all the way to the championship where they faced the Baylor Bears, who had only lost two games the entire season to Kansas and Oklahoma State. The game was hard-fought by both teams but in the end, the Baylor Bears were able to prevail and win their first-ever National Championship. Their defense and three-point shooting were too much for Gonzaga to handle.
This year’s tournament was one for the ages and will be remembered for years to come. It was full of excitement and unpredictability that will make it unforgettable. This was much needed especially since there was no tournament last year. The amount of excitement that this tournament brings me is always incredible. Not having it last year was devastating. This year was much needed and I hope future tournaments will be similar to this one.