NCAA Tournament Recap

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NCAA Tournament Recap

Zach Stubbs, Staff Writer

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This years NCAA Tournament provided fans with excitement, intensity, controversy and fun, all culminating in a wild Championship Game and finish to America’s most beloved Tournament.  The Regular Season also provided us with much entertainment and anticipation, leading up to the NCAA Tournament, or the “Big Dance.”

Going undefeated in a season in any sport is an incredible feat but almost possible to achieve. Going undefeated in a college basketball season is almost unheard of because of the seasons longevity and quantity of good basketball teams. However, at the start of March Madness leading up to the Final Four in Indianapolis Kentucky was perfect and undefeated in the season.

A perfect season has never been accomplished in college basketball since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. Many teams have been close to achieving a perfect season since the Hoosiers, but none have made it. The Kentucky Wildcats were not only on the brink of an undefeated season, but also had been crushing teams in the process with an absurdly high point differential of over 500 points throughout the season.

One of the reasons of Kentucky’s dominance was their ultra talented roster that could send over 8 players to the NBA. 6 Kentucky players are projected to be taken in the first round of next year’s NBA draft by analyst Chad Ford, while other players on Kentucky are projected to be taken in later rounds. According to ESPN, the shortest player in Kentucky’s starting lineup is 6-6.

Kentucky head coach John Calipari said of his team, “You keep taking everybody’s best [effort], We’re in a championship fight every time we walk into a building.”

Legendary basketball coach Larry Brown said of Kentucky, “I think they’d honestly make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference if they were in the NBA.”

Kentucky were the overwhelming favorites to be holding the trophy by season’s end. According to Grantland.com, they had a 51% chance to win the NCAA Tournament. After Kentucky blew its way through to the Final Four, they lost a heartbreaker to the Wisconsin Badgers led by two potential NBA Draft lottery picks in Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker.

On the other hand, the Duke Blue Devils, led by NBA prospects Jahlil Okafor, Justice Winslow, and Tyus Jones stormed their way to the National Championship Game, beating teams like Gonzaga, Michigan State, and Utah along the way. Duke also was led by the legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski who leads the NCAA in wins and championships with 5.

In the Championship Game, Duke won a hard fought back and forth battle over Wisconsin, cementing their status as one of the winningest programs in history with 5 Championships.

“It has been my best group, as far as being together, that I’ve coached in 40 years,” said Coach Krzyzewski on this years title winning team. “I haven’t loved a team any more than I’ve loved this team. … They’ve been a joy. They’ve been an incredible joy. When you’re already happy, and you get happier, it’s pretty damn good. It’s pretty good.”

However, this year’s NCAA Tournament featured many other intriguing storylines besides Kentucky and Duke Basketball. The very first day of the tournament has been called the best first day of the NCAA Tournament in history.

The first day of the Tournament featured buzzer beaters, close games, controversial calls, and even a coach falling out of his seat during the game. An NCAA Tournament Record 5 games were decided by one point during this wild first day, while eleven games were decided by close margins of under 10 points.

Jason Lisk of USA Today Sports called it the “wildest day in NCAA Tournament History.”

In the aftermath of a crazy and spectacular Tournament, we can all look back on the excitement  of some extremely close games, an almost undefeated season, and a Duke National Championship.

Check out more of this season’s best moments here with some NCAA Highlights.

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