The journey to March Madness

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A basketball hangs in the air against a blue background, and four hands reach up from the bottom of the frame trying to catch it.
It’s anybody’s game. stymeist via Pixabay and OpenClipart-Vectors via Pixabay, manipulated by Lee Lim

How each team in the Final Four brackets navigated their way to the top

This year’s March Madness has left many people shocked and surprised, as many major upsets have occurred on both the men’s and women’s sides. Let’s break down the Final Four teams on both the men’s and women’s sides, and their unique journeys getting to the Final Four.  

On the men’s side, all of the first to third-seeded teams were out, leaving the University of Connecticut as the highest-ranking seed left in the Final Four. The men’s Final Four consists of Florida Atlantic University, seeded ninth, playing San Diego State, seeded fifth, and the University of Miami, seeded fifth, playing the University of Connecticut, seeded fourth. This Final Four is definitely not what college basketball fans predicted.  

In order for the Florida Atlantic University to make the Final Four, they had to beat some impressive teams. They started the first round of the tournament by beating the University of Memphis in a nail-biter that ended with a score of 66-65. The team would then go on to beat Fairleigh Dickinson Knights 78-70 in the second round. Florida Atlantic then beat the University of Tennessee in the Sweet Sixteen with a score of 62-55. In the Elite Eight, they would beat third-seed Kansas State in an upset with a score of 79-76.  

Florida Atlantic are now headed into the Final Four as underdogs, and are set to play San Diego State. San Diego State has also delivered some upsets during this tournament. San Diego started by beating the College of Charleston 63-57. They then went on to demolish Furman by a score of 75-52 in the second round. During the Sweet Sixteen, San Diego delivered an upset by beating first-seed University of Alabama with a score of 71-64. In the Elite Eight, San Diego just barely managed to beat Creighton with a score of 57-56. San Diego State are now favourites going into their game against Florida Atlantic University, so it will be interesting to see how they respond knowing that this time they are the favourites going into the game.  

The University of Miami started the tournament by beating Drake 63-56. Miami then went on to demolish the University of Indiana 85-69 in the second round of the tournament. The team delivered an upset to Houston in the Sweet Sixteen with Miami beating the first-seed Houston 89-75. In the Elite Eight, Miami would go on to beat the University of Texas 88-81, clinching a Final Four spot.  

Miami is set to take on the University of Connecticut (UConn) Huskies in the Final Four. Both of these teams are closely ranked, therefore making it exceedingly difficult to make a prediction going into the game. The University of Connecticut began the tournament by beating Iona in the first round with a score of 87-63. In the second round, the team beat St. Mary’s with a score of 70-55. The team then went onto play Arkansas in the Sweet Sixteen, where they beat them 88-65. The University of Connecticut then demolished Gonzaga 82-54 to secure the Final Four spot. Although UConn and Miami are tightly ranked, UConn has continuously demolished their opponents in the lead up to the Final Four which potentially gives them the edge going into their game.  

Unlike the men’s side where massive upsets have led to a unique Final Four, the women’s side has been relatively predictable. The Final Four on the women’s side consists of third-seed Louisiana State University (LSU) vs first-seed Virginia Tech, and second-seed Iowa vs first-seed South Carolina. In the first round, LSU beat Hawaii 73-50 to advance to the second round where they beat Michigan 66-42. In the Sweet Sixteen, LSU beat Utah in a close game with a score of 66-63.  

During the Elite Eight, LSU beat Miami with a score of 54-42, which secured them a spot in the Final Four. Virginia began the tournament by beating Chattanooga 58-33 and South Dakota State 72-60 to move on the Sweet Sixteen. In the Sweet Sixteen, they beat Tennessee 73-64, and then bested Ohio State 84-74. LSU would go on to beat Virginia Tech 79-72 in an upset.  

Iowa began the tournament with a decisive win over Southeastern Louisiana with a 95-43 victory. The team then played Georgia, winning 74-66, and took on Colorado in the Sweet Sixteen where they won 87-77. In the Elite Eight, Iowa beat Louisville 97-83 to secure them a spot in the Final Four. Iowa’s opponent in the Final Four is South Carolina, who are seeded first in the tournament.  

South Carolina started the first round of the tournament by beating Norfolk State 72-40 and South Florida 76-45. In the Sweet Sixteen and then the Elite Eight, South Carolina beat UCLA 59-43 and Maryland 86-75 to secure them a spot in the Final Four. South Carolina was a favourite for the game against Iowa as they are better seeded. Former United States president Barack Obama predicted in his bracket that South Carolina would win the whole tournament. Contrary to the predictions of many on March 31, in a thrilling game, Iowa beat first-seed South Carolina with an end score of 77-73. At the time of writing, Iowa and LSU are set to compete for the national championship.  

The implementation of March Madness brackets has been on the rise over the years, so much so that billionaire Warren Buffet has made a bet he’ll pay someone $1 billion if they create the perfect March Madness bracket. The perfect March Madness bracket is yet to be fulfilled considering the major upsets that tend to happen during the tournament. Will next year be your year to achieve the perfect March Madness bracket and help to support college basketball?  

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