And just like that, the most exciting time of the sports year is over. Another March Madness has come and gone, and while I feel like we might say this every year, this time I actually believe it: This was one of the best tournaments of all time. There were major upsets, thrilling finishes, incredible comebacks—which of course means epic collapses—and it was topped off with possibly the best championship game ever. With so much that happened, it is impossible to adequately sum it up in one article, but here are the moments that this tournament will be most remembered by.
While the first round showcased a ton of thrilling finishes, none were more exciting than the two buzzer beaters and the biggest upset. Michigan State came into the tournament as most people’s pick to run the table. However, they were beaten in the first round by 15-seed Middle Tennessee, which made it only the eighth time a 15th seed has beaten a second seed. Providence defeated University of Southern California on a last second layup off of an inbounds play, which was then outdone by a half court heave at the buzzer to win it for Northern Iowa. Northern Iowa was part of two of the most exciting games in the tournament, first beating Texas on the half court shot but then again for a different reason: what will be remembered as the biggest collapse in recent memory. Up by 11 with 40 seconds to go against Texas A&M, they squandered their lead and eventually lost in overtime.
Two other big storylines from the tournament were those of Syracuse’s improbable run and Buddy Hield’s impressive tournament for Oklahoma. Syracuse came in as a 10th seed and many did not even think they would be selected to make the tournament. They proved their doubters wrong and went all the way to the Final Four, where they lost to North Carolina. Buddy Hield for Oklahoma definitely increased his draft stock by dominating opponents at the highest level and was without a doubt the best player in the tournament as he led Oklahoma to the Final Four.
Then, of course, there was the championship game. Despite all of the upsets, it was the second-seeded Villanova Wildcats versus the first-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels. Villanova came into the game scorching hot, having absolutely dominated their previous opponents, while North Carolina was always considered a potential winner. The game went back and forth until the second half where Villanova went on a big run to get their lead to double digits. The Tar Heels were not going down without a fight, and fought all the way back and tied the game on a double-clutch three pointer with just 4.7 seconds left. Villanova then went the full court out of the timeout and ended the tournament with a bang as Kris Jenkins nailed a three at the buzzer to give them the 77-74 win. Villanova has been known to disappoint in March, but not this time. They got hot at the right time and both teams put on a performance that solidified this tournament’s place in college basketball history.