By D. Westphalen
March Madness is an annual basketball competition run by the NCAA (National College Athletic Association). It is a tournament that consists of 64 Division I college teams that play in single-elimination rounds. There are over 350 teams in Division I, and only the best 64 teams participate in the tournament. After they select the 64 teams that will participate in the tournament they are divided into four divisions – East, West, South and Midwest. Then the teams are ranked from 1-16. Naturally, the best teams play with the worse teams, so team #1 plays against team #16, team #2 against team #15, and so on.
Surprisingly, in the first round, 12 underdog teams won, but unfortunately in the second round, only one of those 12 teams managed to get to the sweet 16. After the second round, the next phase is called Sweet 16, because there are only 16 teams left. In the sweet 16, there were many thrilling games, Duke's 2-point win against Virginia Tech, Auburn's huge 17-point upset against NCU, and Purdue's overtime win against Tennessee.
The Elite 8 is the name of the next round. On Saturday the 30th of March, the first two games were played. The first game was #1 Gonzaga vs #3 Texas Tech, the battle for the Western Region, it was a close game throughout the entire match until Texas Tech was able to open a bigger lead and win 75x68 and went to their first Final Four. The second game was #1 Virginia vs #3 Purdue, Purdue started the game well and got an early lead, but by halftime, Virginia had already tied the game. After halftime, Virginia started to play better and had the lead, up until the last minutes of the game when Purdue was able to rally back and put up a 3-point lead with 16.9 seconds left. However, Virginia hadn't given up just yet, they quickly went to the offence when suddenly Purdue fouled Virginia's Ty Jerome, so he would shoot free throws with 5.9 seconds left. He made the first one to bring Purdue's lead down to two points. He intentionally missed the second free throw so that his team could have a chance at the rebound, and they did, Virginia's Kehei Clark got the rebound and quickly passed it to Mamadi Diakite, and with 0.5 seconds left he shot the ball, players on the court, fans all around the world watching their TV's, all stopped to watch as the ball went in to send the game to overtime. In overtime, Virginia dominated the game and won 80x75 and sent them to their first final four in 35 years.
On Sunday 31st of March, the next two Elite 8 games were played, the first game was #2 Kentucky vs #5 Auburn, in the first half Kentucky led by 11 at a point but their lead was cut and by halftime, they were only leading by 5. In the second half, Auburn was able to tie the game and send it to overtime. Auburn started off strong in overtime and was able to beat Kentucky 77x71, and Auburn went to their first Final Four in school history. Later that day, #1 Duke played against #2 Michigan State. The game was neck to neck through all 40 minutes, with 8.4 seconds left it was Duke's ball with a score of Duke 66x68 Michigan State, Duke's forward, RJ Barret, went for a layup and was fouled and was sent to the free throw line. He missed the first shot causing panic to Duke fans, he would have to miss the second free shot so that they would have a chance at the rebound to score the two points and send it to overtime, however RJ Barret accidentally scored the basketball, so now it was Michigan State's ball, with 5.2 seconds left, and a lead of 1 point. Duke had to steal the ball to score the basket to win, but they weren't able to because of Michigan State's nifty guard Cassius Winston, who was able to get the ball and dodge from Duke players to avoid a foul, time ran out with the ball in his hands. Michigan State won 68x67, crushing Duke's Final Four dreams.
Texas Tech, Virginia, Auburn and Michigan State will compete in the Final Four in Minneapolis for a chance to win the Championship.