by Jarod Hamilton
As March Madness closes and we say a sad goodbye to another college basketball season, it’s important that we recap one of the most unpredictable NCAA Tournaments in recent history. Lower seeded teams ran wild through this years tournament, but the question is should we really be shocked by a “Cinderella’s” success?
On March 16th, 2018, the University of Maryland Baltimore County did the impossible as they upset the number one overall seeded, Virginia Cavaliers. This wasn’t any regular number one seed, this team boasted a 31-2 regular season record, won both the ACC regular season and tournament title, and was statistically one of the most dominant defensive squads in the history of the NCAA. However, The UMBC Retrievers demolished the Cavaliers in a 20 point clubbing. Many People (including myself) believed that UPenn was the best 16 seed in tournament history and after their 16 point loss to Kansas followed by UMBC’s 20 point win over Virginia, I have no choice but to admit that I should have put some “respeck” on the retrievers’ name.
Most of us were all shocked by the performances of UMBC and other cinderella teams such as The Loyola Chicago Ramblers, The Buffalo Bulls and even the 11 seeded Syracuse Orangemen. But Should we really have been surprised? Basketball has changed. The Golden State Warriors have developed a new style of play that proves that you don’t have to be the tallest, strongest, or most athletically gifted player to win. However, if the team can crash the boards and make three pointers at an efficient rate, then they can put themselves in position to win against anyone.
Buffalo blew out the Arizona Wildcats 68-89 by shooting 50% from the three point line, while Arizona only shot a measly 11% from downtown. Millions of people had Arizona winning the title, led by projected top two pick, DeAndre Ayton, but as we see the Bulls style of play overwhelmed the more talented Wildcats.
In the Retrievers win against Virginia, they shot 50% from three and outrebounded the Cavaliers by 11, 33 to 22. The tallest player for the Retrievers is 6’10” Nolan Gerrity. The Cavaliers have a 7-footer, someone else at 6’10” and someone at 6’9”. Although they are outsized by prospects who were at least 3 star recruits coming out of high school, their style of play led them to complete the biggest upset in NCAA Tournament history.
The cinderella story that has a little bit more depth is the story of the 11 seeded Loyola- Chicago Ramblers who made it all the way to the Final Four. They have upset a six seed, three seed, seven seed and nine seed on their way to the national semifinal game. Their success should be contributed in part to a combined 41.6% three point shooting percentage over the duration of the team’s run in the tournament, and sister Jean of course, the team’s 98 year-old chaplain.
An “upset” during March Madness is the what creates the hysteria, the fun, and the madness! But with this new style of play, the gap between these top programs and smaller schools is slimming drastically and because of this the chance of an higher seed going down is more likely than ever.