By Max Anderson ’18
After one of the craziest seasons in recent history for men’s college basketball, it only made sense that the postseason tournament matched the insanity.
The madness kicked off right out of the gate. In the opening two days, title hopefuls Arizona University and Wichita State University were both sent packing. In perhaps the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history, the University of Maryland Baltimore County Golden Retrievers sent the number one overall seed University of Virginia home early with a final score of 74-54, marking the first time ever a No. 16 seed defeated a No. 1 seed. In the following two days, University of Tennessee, University of North Carolina, Michigan State University, University of Cincinnati, and another No. 1 seed, Xavier University, would bid farewell also. With the losses of North Carolina, Xavier and Cincinnati, the left side of the bracket was without not only the two No. 1 seeds, but also the two No. 2 seeds, marking it the first time ever in NCAA history that this has happened.
While the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight did not have the same madness the opening rounds contained, it did have one massive Cinderella story that captivated the nation in No. 11 seed Loyola University of Chicago. The team, led by their 98-year-old unoffical mascot Sister Jean, won game after game, despite being labeled as the underdog in every matchup. They were able to best Miami and Tennessee in the opening rounds, followed by Nevada and Kansas St. in the later rounds to advance to the Final Four, just the fifth time a double-digit seed has advanced that far. The magic ultimately ran out when the Ramblers ran into John Beilein’s University of Michigan Wolverines, losing by a final tally of 57-69. Despite the Ramblers’ failure to pull it off, they still showed that in March, double-digit seeds can make just as much noise as single-digit seeds.
On the right side of the bracket, order was mostly maintained, with No. 1 seeds Villanova University and University of Kansas advancing to the Final Four. Villanova, on the back of National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson, easily handled Kansas, advancing to their second National Championship game in three years, where they would square off with the Wolverines. In the National Championship game, Michigan contested with the Wildcats early; however, Beilein’s squad had no answer for Donte Divicenzo, who scored a game-high 31 points. Divicenzo’s hot hand, along with Brunson’s leadership, vaulted Villanova to a 79-62 victory, giving the Wildcats their second NCAA title in a three-year span.
As a fan of college basketball, I congratulate Villanova on their NCAA Championship victory; as a Friar, I say great, but look for the Providence Friars to make another strong run for the Big East Championship in 2019.