The Big Dance in March

Photo courtesy of Athlon Sports

Photo courtesy of Athlon Sports

Isaiah Gaines, Sean Haddock, and John Ely

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March is an exciting time for basketball fans across the country. The NBA playoffs are drawing near, and the NCAA tournament begins. In March, it seems like everyone in the country becomes a college basketball fan. Fans fill out brackets, hoping to have a perfect bracket by the end of the tournament in April. There were 13.3 billion brackets created at the start of the tournament, just within the ESPN tournament challenge pool.

  The NCAA tournament is full of upsets. Teams work hard from the beginning of the summer to try and even qualify for the tournament in April. Sometimes, they have their hearts crushed and their seasons end early.

Teams work hard from the beginning of the summer to try and even qualify for the tournament in April. Sometimes, they have their hearts crushed and their seasons end early.”

  In what was considered a true bracket buster, the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils fell to the seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks in the second round in the NCAA tournament, with a score of 88-81. This was perhaps the first major upset of this year’s tournament. Duke was a favorite to win the tournament this year. Duke went into halftime with a 30-23 lead over South Carolina, but something clicked in the locker room for South Carolina. In the second half the Gamecocks came out hot. After shooting just 20 percent in the first half, the Gamecocks shot better than 70 percent from the field in the second.

  Duke trailed by 10, with under four minutes remaining in the game. A three-pointer by freshman Jayson Tatum cut the lead to seven, but South Carolina continued to deliver on the offensive end, looking quicker, stronger and hungrier than the Duke Blue Devils.

  Senior Sindarius Thornwell lead the game in scoring with 24 points. Even though they were down early, Thornwell had confidence that South Carolina could turn things around and earn themselves a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.

   “When you shoot 7 for 35 in the first half and you’re down by just seven points, I tell you, it just gives you confidence,” Thornwell said in a post game interview with ESPN. “It was our defense. It just kept us in it. We thought we could win the game coming out the second half because of shooting so poorly the first half,” Thornwell said.

  This upset broke brackets all across the country. Even here, Hightstown High School brackets were broken after this upset. Junior basketball player Jamal Anderson got in the spirit of the tournament and filled out a bracket. Anderson’s bracket was broken with this loss, because he chose Duke to win this game and eventually win the NCAA National Championship.

  “The biggest upset in my eyes was definitely South Carolina beating Duke. Duke had an amazing season, with lots of young talent producing on many levels. Duke also beat the tournament champions two thirds of the times that we played them,” Anderson said.

  Many people place friendly bets on brackets with family and friends, and Anderson got into the fun, too. Anderson bet on his team the Duke Blue Devils, who happened to lose in the second round which caused him to lose his friendly bets.

  “I would say [I lost] around $40.00-$50.00, only because I had big bets against Arizona, which I also felt should have at least made the Final Four,” Anderson said.

  Another huge upset was the Villanova and Wisconsin game. Villanova is the returning champ from a year ago and were ranked number one in the East. Wisconsin came out with some fire, playing hard throughout the whole first half. At halftime the score was very close, but Wisconsin was leading by four. Nova knew they had to step up their game. With around five minutes left in the game, Nova took a seven point lead, but Wisconsin managed to go on a 7-0 point run to tie the game.  Later, Nova was down by 2 with 11 seconds left and they had a chance to tie the game or even win it. Wisconsin pulled the game out and won 65-62, knocking out the defending champs. Out of the 19 million ESPN brackets, only nine brackets were left perfect after Villanova lost.

  The tournament ended Monday, April 3 as the North Carolina Tar Heels faced the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Tar Heels came out on top with a score of 71-65.

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