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March Madness: Update

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March Madness: Update

Ian Sutliff, Writer

This March Madness has been absolutely crazy. For the first time ever, a 16 seed has beat a one seed. Then teams that looked like they could make a deep run in the tournament like Cincinnati, North Carolina and Michigan State didn’t even make it past the first weekend. There have been some great stories this March, and the tournament hasn’t even ended.


16 Seed Defeats 1

It seemed like it was impossible, but it has finally happened. A team that I bet you’ve never heard of before the tournament has made a miraculous run into the tournament. Maryland (Baltimore County), also known as UMBC pulled off a huge upset in their conference tournament to make it to the tournament. They faced perennial tournament team, Vermont, in the America East championship and defeated the Catamounts for the first time this year after losing their first two games to them by scores of 71-56 and 81-53.


Six days later they found themselves at the Spectrum Center in North Carolina ready to take on the number one overall seed in the tournament, Virginia. Virginia is known for losing early in the tournament even after being seeded high. This year seemed different after they finished 30-2 and easily won the ACC. It looked to be an easy win that would push the one seed’s record to 136-0 over 16 seed teams in the history of the tournament.


It wasn’t, though. UMBC got off to a fast start and were able to bring down enough rebounds to stay in it and make some long-range threes. They stayed right with the Cavaliers and were able to keep the back-and-forth game tied at 21. Then they came out of the locker red-hot and went on a 17-3 run to push their lead to 14. It seemed too good to be true, and it seemed like it was inevitable that Virginia would go on one of their big runs and show why 16 seeds can’t hang with the one seeds. Thanks to 71% combined shooting from K.J. Maura and Jairus Lyles, the Retrievers were able to keep the lead at 12 points for much of the middle of the second half.


The Retrievers and Cavaliers kept trading buckets, which kept the deficit the same and helped lead UMBC to a historic win. It was their first win of the tournament in their program’s history, and they beat a historically good Virginia team by 20. They would go on to lose in the next round to Kansas State 50-43, but they won’t be forgotten in March Madness history.


Last Second Shots-

This tournament has been full of clutch shots and buzzer beaters. It started on day one of the tournament when Houston’s Rob Gray took the ball to the hoop himself and laid the ball in with one second to go. He was able to get the ball past three defenders and go up and under to take a two point lead to get them to the round of 32. That same day Loyola-Chicago was looking to upset six seed Miami to get through to Tennessee. They were down one with six seconds to go. Loyola’s star guard Clayton Custer dribbled to the free throw line and passed the ball back to star Donte Ingram who shot a long three without hesitation to win the game at the buzzer.


In the round of 32, two more last second shockers would come. On Saturday, March 18th, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers took on the Tennessee Volunteers looking for another upset to boost them into the elite eight. Loyola was down one, and guard, Clayton Custer, took the ball all the way down the court and took an off balance shot from about 15 feet. It took a bounce off the front iron and then banked in off the backboard with 3.6 seconds to go. Tennessee was able to get off a makeable three pointer that just missed to keep the Ramblers run going.


Later that same night, Houston and Michigan were in a back and forth game to try to get to Los Angeles. Houston looked like they had iced the game when they were up 63-61 with just under four seconds to go. Unfortunately for them, Devin Davis was at the free throw line and missed both after he shot 67% from the charity strike. Michigan took a timeout and got the ball in the hands of their youngster, Jordan Poole, who made a long 30 foot jumper to send the Wolverines to LA.


11 Seeds- Usually one or two, 11-seeded teams are able to stick around for the round of 32, but only once in a while do they make it to the sweet 16. This year things are a little different.


Syracuse barely even made this tournament and narrowly knocked off Arizona State in one of the play-in games. They then had to play an experienced TCU team in the first round. Syracuse got a lucky break in the first round because of the key loss to the Horned Frogs. The Orange’s run carried on into the round of 32 with a five point win over TCU. It looked like they’re run was over when the Orange had to take on one of the favorites to win the tournament-Michigan State.


Jim Boehim was able to keep the Spartans close by using a zone defense that had worked very well this season. In a back and forth game with the three-seeded Spartans, Syracuse won in a nail-biter due to clutch free throw shooting and forcing turnovers.


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March Madness: Update