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Madness Initiates in March

64 teams fight for the right to advance and be crowned champions of the NCAA

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Madness Initiates in March

March Madness, the name given to the Men's basketball tournament in March, includes 64 teams from across the country.

March Madness, the name given to the Men's basketball tournament in March, includes 64 teams from across the country.

David Berry

March Madness, the name given to the Men's basketball tournament in March, includes 64 teams from across the country.

David Berry

David Berry

March Madness, the name given to the Men's basketball tournament in March, includes 64 teams from across the country.

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It’s that time of the year again where basketball fans across the country rush to fill out brackets, watch NCAA games, and enter office pools. The teams are set, fans are ready, March Madness has finally begun.

David Berry
Members of the UNC team are interviewed by Scott Van-Pelt.

Headlining the tournament are #1 seed Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga, and UNC. Vegas determines the odds of Duke at 11/4, UVA 9/2, Gonzaga 17/4, UNC 9/1. 

The buzz around the NCAA is the Duke team, which is at full strength right now. Individual players such as Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Ja Morant, Deandre Hunter, etc. are looking to make a name for themselves due to the fact that they’ve received high praises from NBA scouts. After taking down Florida State in the ACC Tournament, Williamson and company loom to take the tournament by storm. However, Williamson isn’t the only Duke player that heightens the team. Key players such as RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, and Tre Jones add a level of competitiveness that’s unmatched. Many are predicting that this Duke team will take home the trophy.

David Berry
In 2018, UVA went down in history when they lost in the first round to UMBC.

Another team that has high expectations for the tournament is UVA. After a disappointing performance in last years NCAA Tournament (historic loss in the first round to UMBC), this new look of the team is aiming high. High-caliber players such as Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and Deandre Hunter bring a new level of offensive talent to the table. Analysts claim this UVA team is much different, compared to that of years past. The backcourt duo of juniors Guy and Jerome add a level of experience and offensive firepower that can unravel any team. Notable frontcourt standouts include the back-to-the-basket specialist Mamadi Diakite, defensive expert Jack Salt, and two-way stretch four Jay Huff.

The West Coast one seed, Gonzaga, also looks promising this year. The Zags reached the championship two years ago and lost to a well-rounded UNC team. This is the second time in three years the bulldogs have been awarded a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. The forward duo Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke looks to bounce back after a tough loss versus Saint Mary’s College in the West Coast Conference Tournament. The bulldogs only scored 47 points, which is uncharacteristic, as they average 88 points per game.

Finally, UNC-Chapel Hill fills the final one seed slot. If fans aren’t too passionate about Duke, it’s more than likely they will be rooting for the tar heels to win their region and take down Duke in the final game. People already saw a glimpse of this in the semifinal of the ACC Tournament, when UNC took Duke down to the wire in a nail-biting one point win for Duke. We’ll see if leaders Coby White, Cam Johnson, and Luke Maye are able to go far in the big dance this year.

David Berry
Zion Williamson, arguably one of the best players of  a loaded Duke squad, celebrates following a massive play.

In more recent news, games have been played, brackets have been busted, and the Sweet Sixteen has been set. ESPN recently confirmed that no bracket remains perfect today. Some notable games in the round of 64 included: Liberty (12) defeating Mississippi State (5), UC Irvine (13) beating Kansas State (4), and Murray State (12) upsetting Marquette (5). All of the one seeds advanced this year. As for the round of 32, Duke faced off a red-hot UCF team, Florida State edges Ja Morant and Murray State out of the tournament, Tennessee escapes a strong Iowa team, Auburn defeats Kansas State, LSU barely defeats Maryland on a last-second bucket, and Purdue’s solid shooting and post play helps cruise past last year’s champions Villanova. Therefore, the matchups in the Sweet Sixteen are Duke v. Virginia Tech, LSU v. Michigan State, Gonzaga v. Florida State, Texas Tech v. Michigan, Virginia v. Oregon, Purdue v. Tennessee, North Carolina v. Auburn, and Houston v. Kentucky.

David Berry
All of the basketballs used during march madness are tested to make sure they’re up to regulation.

Although Duke is an obvious favorite, there are unpredictable title contenders. Oregon, for instance, has a good chance to beat UVA. If UVA goes cold offensively, then the ducks could have a legitimate chance to beat the cavaliers. LHS Senior Christain Hankins said, “Oregon has a chance to advance to the elite eight. UVA has a reputation of going out early in the tournament.” Another LHS Senior, George Haramis, said, “I like Purdue to go all the way to the championship. They’re peaking at the right time.” Jarel White, also a senior at LHS, said, “I’m excited to see what Zion Williamson does. I think Duke is a completely different team with him playing.”

It’s obvious that fans everywhere are excited to see which teams prevail. Now all there’s left to do is watch the madness unfold.

 

 

 

 

 

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Madness Initiates in March