All of the madness of March is finally over-and it truly was madness, but in a positive way. We saw some underdogs rise to the challenge (fellow America East opponent, University of Maryland Baltimore County) and we also saw some big dogs fail to perform at the standard for which they are known (University of Virginia). With another March Madness in the books, we can now reflect on the 2018 tournament and predict what might happen next year in terms of coaching changes and future winners.
Let’s start with the amazing game between the UMBC Retrievers and the No. 1 seed overall, the University of Virginia Cavaliers. This game took place several weeks ago now, but it seems like yesterday that an unknown school was stepping out of the darkness and into the spotlight. It was a “David beating Goliath” sort of feeling and it was awesome, but not so awesome for the people who chose Virginia to win the whole thing.
The facts for this game should have made the winner very obvious. For example, according to WFMY News in Greensboro, North Carolina, 80 percent of the country could not tell you the school’s full name, where it is or what conference they were from, and whether or not they were the actual 16th seed. Furthermore, the funniest thing was the score of the game, 74-54… not really that close. NCAA history was truly made.
Now, moving onto Loyola-Chicago’s journey at the NCAA tournament. Not only did they play great basketball, but their cheerleader was by far the best. Sister Jean Dolores Smith, the team’s 98-year-old chaplain, sat courtside every game, scouting the opponent and cheering on her boys. The semi-final 69-57 loss to Michigan was heartbreaking for everyone (unless you’re a Michigan fan, of course). This team even had former President Barack Obama tweeting about and cheering for them.
There will always be a loser and a winner, and this year’s winner, for the third time in their school’s history, was the Villanova Wildcats. They were down by seven in the first half, which eventually bloomed into a 22-point lead over the Wolverines and then that was that. The final score ended up being 79-62, a 17-point deficit, which according to USA Today, was Villanova’s scoring margin for the whole tournament.
So, there we have it, another tournament has come and gone. There were obvious upsets and overall exciting basketball. This tournament will be forever known for its “David vs. Goliath” battles and the moving stories that make you remember why you watch the tournament in the first place: for the love of the sport.