Ethan Cardona ’18
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, more commonly referred to as ‘March Madness’ lived up to its name in 2018 with top seeds falling in the opening round, an 11 seed in the Final Four, the first 16 seed ever to win a tournament game, all capped off with one seeded Villanova Wildcats cutting down the nets in San Antonio.
Now, we can’t go through every single upset, as this year’s tournament saw an insurmountable number of upsets, with nine teams losing in the first round to a lower seed, including the South portion of the bracket, where the first, fourth, sixth and eighth seeds all lost in the opening round. This portion was the craziest side of the bracket, for a number of reasons.
The one versus 16 matchup in the South bracket, overall number one Virginia, taking on the University of Baltimore, Maryland County (UMBC) in a game that will live on in basketball history as one of the greatest upsets of all time. According to the ESPN Tournament Challenge, only 3.4% of brackets in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge had UMBC beating Virginia. 18.5% of brackets had Virginia winning the title, the highest percentage of any team.
For those of you like myself, who went to bed, believing that game was no doubt going to see Virginia cruise to an easy victory, were shocked when we woke up to Bleacher Report and ESPN notifications that UMBC has become the first 16 seed to win an NCAA tournament game, beating Virginia by 20 POINTS!
Another team out of the south, and BHS English teacher, Mr. Grennan’s Alma Mater, Loyola-Chicago, won the hearts of tournament fans across the country. When asked about his pick to make it in the tournament before it started, Grennan told me Loyola-Chicago, before laughing and getting into a discussion about the teams in the tournament. Evidence that even alumni never thought their 11 seeded Ramblers would make it as far as they did.
It all started with a buzzer-beater in the opening round vs sixth seeded Miami, before a clutch shot in the final seconds of the team’s second round matchup against three seed Tennessee. The Ramblers saw another one-point victory in the sweet sixteen against seventh seeded Nevada. Loyola-Chicago easily handled their elite eight matchup with nine seeded Kansas State to make the final four. The team led the winners of the West bracket, three seeded Michigan at halftime, before a second half push by the Wolverines, as the clock hit midnight on the Ramblers Cinderella run in the tournament (and yes I did this whole piece without mentioning Sister Jean).
Coverage on the whole tournament would take up too much space, but congratulations are in order to the champions, Villanova, but also UMBC, Loyola-Chicago, and every Cinderella in this year’s tournament. This year’s tournament excitement was worth a busted bracket and basketball fans can’t wait to see what happens next year.