March Madness Update: Who’s Dancing in the Sweet 16?

NC State’s DJ Horne competing in March Madness. (Photo Courtesy of the Fayetteville Observer)

By Max Ferguson, Staff Writer

March Madness is upon us! The month of March means that NCAA basketball is officially in the postseason. Sixty-four teams enter, but only one will be crowned champion. College basketball fanatics and nonviewers alike tune in every year to see if the brackets they made will remain accurate. Likewise, every year brings about huge upsets from underdog teams, and amazing stories to go along with them. Here are all the major storylines that have brought the tournament to where it is now, with the Sweet 16 round starting this week. 

Like every year before it, several underdog teams have made waves in the tournament by knocking off much larger opponents in upsets nobody would have expected. Although they were eliminated in the following game, Yale shocked the nation when they took out fourth-seeded Auburn in the first round of the tournament by a mere two points. Over in the south, Oakland University eliminated Kentucky. Most fans had not heard about Oakland until they were beating Kentucky on national television. The school, located in Michigan and not California, has over 13,000 undergraduate students and was formerly a Michigan State satellite campus. The leader of the Golden Grizzlies, Jack Gohlke, made history against the Kentucky Wildcats by making 10 three-point shots on 20 attempts. His lights-out shooting performance put him one basket behind the record for most threes made in a March Madness game. Gohlke has historically been active from beyond the arc and leads the NCAA in three-point attempts this season with 364. He also leads in made three-pointers with 137, putting him at a 37.6% three-point average on the season. Gohlke’s performance in this game has garnered him national attention, with NIL brand deals from companies like Buffalo Wild Wings and TurboTax. Unfortunately, fellow tournament underdogs, 11-seed North Carolina State, ended Oakland’s run in overtime on Saturday when they beat the Golden Bears 79-73. 

NC State now stands alone as the only double-digit seed remaining in the tournament. They will face off against number two-seeded Marquette on Friday. Their ranking, however, may be deceiving, as NC State has multiple NBA-caliber players that one would expect to see on the roster of a Power Five team. One of these players is DJ Burns Jr. The forward for the Wolfpack stands at a whopping 6’9” and weighs 275 pounds. Burns makes himself both the unstoppable force and the immovable object in the post. Offensively, he uses his size in tandem with surprising agility to get points on the board. When on defense, he uses his sheer size to bully his way into the paint to grab boards, as observed by the 11 rebounds he had against Oakland. As one would imagine, Burns also excels at setting screens for his teammates, which puts them in a position to score as well. With Burns Jr. emerging as a strong team leader in this tournament, the chances of an upset against Marquette have gone up. 

The eight games in the Sweet 16 round are to be played across Thursday and Friday, featuring extremely talented teams who are sure to put on a show. Some games stand out as extremely exciting to watch. On Friday, two basketball powerhouses will go to battle in the South as number one Duke takes on number four Houston. In the Midwest, expect a barn burner game between two highly ranked teams when number two Tennessee plays number three Creighton. There is another close matchup in the East with number two Iowa State taking on number three Illinois. In the West, the incredibly fast-paced Alabama offense takes on UNC. The top performers of college basketball have been whittled down from 64 to 16 elite teams. All of these games are slated to be extremely exciting to watch, as each team battles to prove they deserve to dance for just a little bit longer.

Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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1 Comment

  1. Which team will waste the most possessions by making numerous pointless 3 point efforts without scoring?

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