March Madness 2018

Bella Davis-Smith, Staff Writer

Millions of college basketball fans around the world wait all year for the craziest month of college basketball. Sixty-eight different teams from across the United States travel to March Madness arenas to participate in the NCAA–the National Collegiate Athletic Association–tournament and determine who is the best in college basketball.

Teams shattered many records this year leaving fans shocked when their favorite teams lost. As a result, the term “March Sadness” was coined and became highly popular. The upsets began when the University of Maryland-Baltimore, ranked number 16 in the South, defeated the number 1 ranked team, Virginia, by 20 points, with a final score of 74-54.

“UMBC beating Virginia was definitely a surprise,” said freshman Hudson Meyer, who dedicates most of his free time throughout the month of March watching as many games as possible. “I don’t think anyone saw that one coming since Virginia is one of the best teams in the country. I actually had them winning the whole thing.”

When Meyer says he had them “winning the whole thing,” he’s talking about a bracket that he, along with other people around the world, fill out in hopes of predicting the winning team of the tournament. With the many upsets that this year’s tournament brought, it was impossible for anyone to have the perfect bracket.

There are a lot of different tournaments that happen throughout March that apply to different conferences that teams play in, such as the Big Sky conference tournament, where Vista’s own alumni Luke Avdalovic now attends and plays for the Northern Arizona University. Unfortunately, the NAU Lumberjacks took a tough loss in the first round against Northern Colorado with the final score being 82-59.

This March brought many teams that people didn’t give much thought to before to the spotlight ; for example, the South’s number 11, Loyola-Chicago, whose players fought their way to the Final Four where they lost to number 3-ranked Michigan by 12 points, 57-69. Loyola showed what they were capable of doing in an effort to prove that they were indeed big competition.

The other two teams in the final four, Kansas and Villanova, both put their all into the game, but Villanova’s excellent three-point shooting put Kansas in a tough position that they weren’t able to recover. Many fans were shocked, as they expected the number 1 ranked teams to have a close game. The final score was a 95-79 blowout.

The final two teams left in the biggest tournament of the year were Villanova and Michigan. The stadium was packed with over 67,000 fans. Michigan had trouble finding a good rhythm with their transitions between offense and defense and getting good quality shots up, something Villanova recognized and took advantage of.

Villanova started the game out 1 for 9 from the three-point line, leaving coach Jay Wright to decide that it was time to put in his sixth man off the bench: 6’5 sophomore Donte DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo decided to take things into his own hands for the remainder of the game, scoring back-to-back threes and providing amazing passes for his teammates to score. These actions lead to Villanova winning their second championship in three years. The final score of the game was 79-62.

“I think that ‘Nova wanted to prove that they are the best of the best, and with how they played against Michigan, beating them by so much and the way they made it look so effortless, I think they proved exactly that,” freshman Jonathan Varghese said. “I think DiVincenzo showed fans and young basketball players everywhere that just because you don’t start the game, doesn’t mean you can’t finish it.”

DiVincenzo finished the game with stats that made his best game yet take place on the biggest stage in college basketball. He had 31 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 amazing blocks that had the crowd on their feet. DiVincenzo was named the NCAA tournament’s most outstanding player and is the first person since 1989 to score 31 points or more in the national championship game. The sophomore also set the record for most points scored off the bench in the championship, somehow managing to out-score the entire Michigan bench 31-7 by himself.

“[DiVincenzo] was absolutely amazing,” freshman Nathan Bohart said. “He definitely put on a show and was crazy to watch.”

It is highly unlikely that DiVincenzo will declare himself for the NBA draft, seeing as he is only a sophomore. But he did manage to grasp the attention of many coaches and agents from several different NBA and national teams.

Villanova also became the first team since the 2009 North Carolina Tar Heels to win each of its NCAA tournament games by 10 or more points. It is safe to say that Villanova dominated the tournament this year, shattering records that most basketball fans did not even know existed.