March Madness Recap

March Madness logo (Photo courtesy of NCAA)

March Madness logo (Photo courtesy of NCAA)

By Sydney LoPresti, Staff Writer

March Madness brackets for the men’s side of the NCAA tournament took a hit within the first days of gameplay as lower seed teams took large victories over fan favorites. Most notably, Cinderella team St. Peter’s beat No. 2 seed Kentucky, a team many chose to win it all, in the first round. Led by guard Doug Edert, the Peacocks made it all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to No. 8 University of North Carolina. This was the first time a 15th-seed team would make it to the Elite Eight. 

The Tar Heels had an incredible run of their own, making it all the way to the Finals but losing by three points to the No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks. UNC was able to take down the top seed in their bracket region, Baylor, during the round of 32. Social media exploded, however, when they beat their rival Duke in the Final Four in Blue Devils’ Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last career game. This was their second time defeating the Blue Devils this season.  

More great runs were made in the Midwest by the 10th-seed University of Miami, complimented by No.11 Iowa State. The two defeated highly ranked Auburn (No. 2) and Wisconsin (No. 3) before facing each other in the Sweet 16. The Miami Hurricanes won this meeting but then fell to the champions, Kansas. 

The Kansas Jayhawks were the only top ranked team to make it to the final four. They were joined by No. 2 Villanova, No. 2 Duke, and the No. 8 UNC Tar Heels. Not many anticipated that the other 1-seeds, Baylor, Gonzaga, and Arizona would fall early. Gonzaga was taken down by No. 4 Arkansas and Arizona was defeated by the number 5 ranked Houston Cougars. 

In the final game of the tournament, the Jayhawks and the Tar Heels battled zealously to bring the trophy back to their respective schools. However, the first half was all in favor of the Tar Heels. They entered the locker room at halftime up 40-25 and looked poised to win. However, the second half plagued UNC with fatigue and injuries, allowing Kansas to come back with an 18-6 run to start off. This was a trend for Kansas throughout the tournament, being down early but staging a comeback in the second half.

Both teams had balanced scoring from their starting line, with not one player standing out among the rest. The 15 point deficit the Jayhawks overcame was the largest in college basketball history. This was the fourth time Kansas has won the men’s national championship and the second time under head coach Bill Self. 

2022 was a record breaking year for the womens’ NCAA tournament. Viewership was the highest it has ever been, with a peak of 4.85 million people watching the University of South Carolina’s Gamecocks defeat the University of Connecticut’s Huskies in the national title game. Not only was the championship game heavily streamed, but viewing of the tournament as a whole was up 18% from 2021 and 30% from 2019. 

This increase in viewership could reflect the results of the backlash the NCAA faced on social media over the severe inequality between the men’s and women’s tournaments regarding resources and funding. A gender inequity report tracking the 2018-2019 season discovered that the NCAA spent an average of $4,285 on each men’s player but only spent $2,588 on their female participants. Furthermore, when viral TikTok star and Oregon Ducks player Sedona Prince posted a video of the men’s weight room compared to theirs, viewers were outraged. The men had a full weight room set up while the women were given a set of dumbbells and yoga mats. The NCAA claimed it was not an issue of inequality, but an issue of space, to which Sedona showed the huge empty room that was next to the weights. 

There were not as many upsets on the women’s side compared to the men’s, the bracket mostly playing out as expected. While only one top-seeded team was in the Final Four for the men, the women had 3/4 number one seeds present in the semifinals. The eventual champions, the No. 1 Gamecocks, were joined by the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals, No. 1 Stanford Cardinal, and the No. 2 UConn Huskies. There were not any notable Cinderella-runs made in the women’s bracket. 

Coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies had their 11-0 record in NCAA championship games snapped as the South Carolina Gamecocks took the title by a score of 64-49. This will be the Huskies’ longest title drought (six years) since they first won in 1995. Despite beating the top ranked Stanford team days prior, Coach Auriemma and star guard Paige Bueckers did not think they had what it took to defeat the strong offense of the South Carolina team. In an interview Coach A admitted, “I don’t think from the beginning of the game our offense ever looked like it was in any kind of rhythm, any kind of flow.” 

While the Huskies reigned supreme in shooting percentage during the championship game, outshooting the Gamecocks from the field and the three-point line, they fell short in almost every other category. South Carolina had more than double the amount of rebounds (49-24) than the Huskies were able to grab. These second chance opportunities, a strong performance by senior guard Destanni Henderson, and a defensive effort to hold Bueckers to just 14 points allowed the Gamecocks to bring home the trophy. 

Valiant efforts made by the South Carolina team paid off as they were the first to sweep the 2022 women’s Naismith Awards. The Naismith Awards, adequately named after Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, are awarded to outstanding players and coaches on and off the court. Head coach Dawn Staley took home the award for Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year while junior forward Aliyah Boston was named the 2022 Jersey Mike’s Naismith Women’s Player of the Year as well as the Naismith Trophy Women’s Defensive Player of the Year.

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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