March Madness

With the Men’s college basketball regular season coming to an end, there’s only one thing left: March Madness. With the 2020 regular season already being different from other seasons due to the pandemic, this year the NCAA had to make some important decisions on how the tournament would be played. This would ultimately lead to strict Covid restrictions. Some of these restrictions included players, coaches, and staff not leaving their hotel rooms unless they had a practice, game, workout session, or were getting tested for Covid-19. The NCAA committee also had to figure out where these games were to be played. Each team that was selected to go into the tournament was placed in a division. Each division was placed in a city or town where they would play in a variety of stadiums including Lucas Oil Stadium, as well as Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. With all of the teams selected to go into the tournament, some colleges would have to opt-out of playing because players and coaches could have been exposed to Covid at their home schools. One major team that opted out was Duke University. This came as a major surprise because Duke has made the tournament for the past 25 years. But after all of the trouble that the NCAA had to go through, they were finally able to start March Madness.

In the first round, which included 64 teams, teams that were projected to perform well in the tournament started to fall, as well some Cinderella stories began to emerge. In the East region, many teams lived up to their placements, teams like Michigan, LSU, Colorado, Florida State, Abilene Christian, and Alabama. But some teams well didn’t do so well, such as Uconn and BYU, who lost in the first round. But there were also some surprises in the region by having the number twelve seed UCLA beating BYU to advance into the next round, as well as Maryland beating Uconn to move on. In the Midwest, there were lots of up and downs throughout the first round. Teams like Illinois, Loyola Chicago, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Houston all lived up to the hype of winning their first-round matchups. But teams like Syracuse and Rutgers all surprised a lot of people by winning their first-round matchup and causing some trouble in the first round. In the South Region, things got pretty interesting to watch. Baylor, Wisconsin, Villanova, North Texas, Arkansas, Florida, and Oral Roberts all made it past the first round. North Texas and Oral Roberts would start their Cinderella stories during this round. Teams like North Carolina and Ohio State were teams that were projected to go very far in the tournament, but ended up falling short. This just goes to show that anything can happen in March Madness. In the West, teams like Gonzaga, Oklahoma, Creighton, Ohio University, USC, Kansas, Oregon, and Iowa all made it past the first round. 

In the round of 32, many teams would start to fall and some Cinderella stories would continue. Starting in the West Region, teams that would move on were: Gonzaga, Creighton, USC, and Oregon. In the East, teams like Michigan, Florida State, UCLA, and Alabama all moved on into the next round. In the Midwest, Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean would pull a big upset in beating the number one seeded Illinois in hopes of continuing their journey to win it all. Teams also like Oregon State, Syracuse, and Houston would all move on in the tournament. In the South region, teams like Baylor, Villanova, Arkansas, and Oral Roberts would all move on in the tournament. Oral Roberts would end up beating the odds and to continue their Cinderella story.

In the sweet 16, teams would start to dwindle more and more, with some teams rising to win and some falling. In the West region, Gonzaga and USC would end up winning. Gonzaga being the heavy favorites to win it all this year, it looks like they can keep this show on a roll. USC is an underdog in this tournament, but their ability to play defense helps them in the long run in this tournament. In the East, UCLA and Michigan would make it out. UCLA would continue their Cinderella story while Michigan was still a heavy favorite and would continue on to play. In the Midwest, Houston and Oregon State would continue their run in the tournament. In the South, Baylor and Arkansas would also continue their run.

In the Elite 8, teams really started to fall with some Cinderella stories coming to an end. Gonzaga would beat USC to continue their run, as well as UCLA beating the heavily favored Michigan to make the final four for the first time in since 2011. Baylor would continue their run to beat Arkansas and Houston, and barely beating Oregon State to continue in the tournament. And with all of that, this is where we are at in the tournament. The Final Four will continue this weekend, and the championship game is slated to be played on April 5th.

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