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    Tournament Tension: March Madness 2023


    The craziness of this year’s March Madness has been unquestionably amazing. This year’s tournament has not lacked  madness due to crazy upsets, like a 16 seed beating a 1 seed for only the second time in tournament history or a15 seed making it all the way to the Sweet 16.


    Day 1 of the tournament did not disappoint at all. One of the best games of the first round was 13 seeded Furman vs. 4 seeded Virginia. This game came down to the wire ending in a Furnam go ahead 3 pointer with 3 seconds to go. This 3 pointer was made possible by a bone head play by Kihei Clark who threw into Furman in the final seconds. After an improbable start to the day, things calmed down until  15 seeded Princeton met Pac-12 champions and two seeded Arizona. Princeton came into the game as heavy underdogs, but as the game went along the Tigers played like they deserved to be there, getting whatever, whenever they wanted. The Tigers were in control the entire game eventually taking down the Wildcats 59-55. While Furman and Princeton showed great team chemistry,  there were many amazing individual performances throughout the day. Penn State shooting guard Andrew Funk showed why he is one of the best shooters in the country going 8-10 from behind the arc racking up 27 points. Sir’Jabari Rice, another great shooter from the Texas Longhorns, had a good day coming off the bench against Colgate. He scored a season high 23 points in the win.


    Day 2 was one of the all time best days in  tournament history. The day was full of crazy upsets and games that came all the way down to the wire. The most exciting game of the day had to be 1 seeded Purdue vs. 16 seeded Fairleigh Dickinson.  The Knights had a great plan to shut down the 7 ‘4 monster Zach Edey, despite not having a single player over 6’ 8. This game came down to the final minute with the 16 seeded Fairleigh Dickinson upsetting the number 1 seed Purdue. Another big time upset was 11 seeded Pittsburg over the 6 seed Iowa State. Iowa State had a lot of drama throughout the season including starting shooting guard Caleb Grill who was kicked off the team right before the start of the tournament. The Cyclones missed him in their first round matchup as Pittsburg blew them out. Two other exciting games were FAU over Memphis and TCU over Arizona State. The TCU game ended on a game winning layup by JaKobe Coles with 3 seconds left. Memphis lost to FAU in controversial fashion. Memphis had possession up 1 and called for a timeout, but instead a jump ball was called givingFAU the ball. The Owls of FAU then proceeded to take the lead and go on to win the game. Memphis coach and former player Penny Hardaway was very upset with this call, throwing a water bottle across the floor after time expired. Day 2 of the first round had some great performances just as Day 1 did. Many of these performances came from the big men. Creighton’s centerRyan Kalkbrenner had a 30 point game against North Carolina State and Kentucky’s star Oscar Tsshiebwe grabbed 25 rebounds which was the most in a tournament game since 1975.


    Going into the round of 32 there had already been plenty of excitement and upsets, but of course the madness didn’t end there. Day 3 started off with nothing too abnormaluntil the Arkansas-Kansas game. The battle of (Ar)Kansas did not disappoint as it came all the way down to the wire with Arkansas Razorbacks pulling off the upset of the 1 seeded Jayhawks. This was a hard fought game where Arkansas just had a little more fire. The fuel to this flame is their  coach Eric Mussleman who took his shirt off in disbelief after time expired. The Cinderella of the tournament, the Princeton Tigers, continued their success winning the battle of the tigers in their game against Missouri. This is the second year in a row where a 15 seed or lower made the Sweet 16,following in the footsteps of St. Peters who made the Elite 8 last year. One performance from Day 3 that turned heads was Olivier Nkamhoua from Tennessee, who dropped 27 points on 77% shooting. He helped the Vols get a big time win against a Duke team that a lot of people had in their Final 4. However, the best performance of the day came from Dylan Disu. Disu led Texas over Penn State behind his season’s best 28 points and 10 rebounds.


    Then it was Day 4 where many outcomes were expected; however, of the it can’t be March Madness without a few upsets. 7 seeded Michigan State upset a shorthanded 2 seededMarquette team. The   lower seeded Creighton Bluejays, favored to win, ran over 3 seeded Baylor avenging their loss to in 2014 in the round of 32. Besides the Baylor Bears all the other 3 seeds Xavier, Kansas State, and Gonzaga all took care of business. Then as usual all Cinderela runs come to an end, Fairleigh Dickinson’s magic ran out as they were knocked off by 9 seeded FAU. The performance of the day came from a different Creighton Bluejay Ryan Nembhard. The Jays guard had the game of his career dropping 30 points against the Bears. The second best performance came from FAU guard Johnell Davis who scored 29 points in their win over FDU.


    The second weekend was now underway full of games coming down to the final seconds. Thursday was a roller coaster of emotions with many good games. The game of the day was Gonzaga vs. UCLA, a battle of two titans of the sport. The game was tied with 10 seconds to go and Gonzaga had the ball. Gonzaga ran the famous play Villanova used to win the 2015 national championship, which is a shovel pass back to the shooter on the three point line. Julian Strawther caught the pass from Omaha’s own Hunter Salis, then heaved it towards the hoop banging the shot through. That was the ball game. Another great game featured Kansas State that won an exciting game against Michigan State behind a great performance from point guard Marquis Nowell. Nowell dropped 20 points to go with his tournament record 19 assists. FAU continued their underdog run as they dismantledTennessee.


    Then history was made, all of the number 1 seeds lost before the Elite 8. The only two one seeds that made the second weekend were Houston and Alabama. Houston ran into an offensive powerhouse in Miami. The Hurricanes put up 89 points against Houston, one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Hurricanes leading scorer was point guard Nijel Pack who put up 26 points. Alabama fell in the complete opposite way that Houston did playing  one of the best defensive teams in the country, San Diego State. The Crimson Tide was unable to get any of their offense started due to the Aztec’s constant pressure. San Diego State won 71-64. The Final Cinderella’s run came to an end as the Princeton Tigers came up short against the Creighton Bluejays. The Jays were led by their experienced duo Ryan Kalkbrenner and Baylor Scheirman, who both had 20 point games. Texas continued to roll as they handled the Xavier Musketeers putting an end to their tournament run.


    The Elite 8 was now set that few had predicted. The first game was FAU vs. Kansas St. at Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of College Basketball. This game was extremely exciting coming down to the final seconds where FAU pulled out a narrow victory to advance to their first Final Four in program history. FAU was led by their big man Vladislav Goldin who posted a 14 point 13 rebound double-double. Sadly Kansas State’s point guard Marquis Nowell’s run came to an end despite his 30 points and 12 assists in the Elite 8. Later in the day Uconn downed Gonzaga 82-54. This was by far one of the most disappointing games of the tournament. With the Gonzaga loss, Drew Timme’s time at Gonzaga is finished, but he will go down as one of the Gonzaga greats.


    Both of the Sunday games of the Elite 8 were very exciting, but also very controversial. The first game of the day was in Louisville, Kentucky, whereCreighton took on . San Diego State. This game was extremely physical and came all the way down to the wire. There had been very few fouls called all game until the final play of the game. Ryan Nambhard was called for holding onto an SDSU player on a shot attempt with one second left. This call caused controversy all around the country, with most people saying “let the players decide.” This is a gut-wrenching way for a team to end their season especially when they are fighting for their first Final 4 in program history. On the flip side, SDSU made their first ever Final 4. In game two of the day Miami came all the way back after trailing Texas by 8 at the half. This put an end to the Longhorn’s season, who were the favorites heading into the Elite 8. This is the first time Miami has made the Final 4.


    This March has been full of madness and many firsts. This year is widely considered the best March Madness of all time due to the crazy amount of upsets and surprises. Who would have thought that this year’s Final 4 would consist of Uconn, SDSU, Miami, and FAU.

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    About the Contributor
    Zach Sall
    Zach Sall, Social Media Manager & Online Editor
    Zach joined The Mount Journalism team in 2022. Sall also participates in basketball, baseball, and choir.
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