Photo Courtesy of Phil Roeder
When it comes to college basketball, anything can happen in March and this year’s men’s NCAA tournament has been no exception. The phrase “bracket busted” has overwhelmed bracket group chats and social media platforms, as some of the biggest upsets in March Madness history have happened this year.
Oral Roberts is this year’s biggest Cinderella story. Exceeding almost everyone’s expectation, Oral Roberts is just the second 15 seed in history to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. Beating second seeded Ohio State 75-72 in a suspenseful overtime, college basketball followers were stunned, but questioned if the team got lucky. So was it just a fluke? Nope. Oral Roberts left people speechless in the second round as they took down the number seven seeded University of Florida. Oral Roberts’s uncalculated success is what makes March Madness so intense, anything can happen to any team. Although they lost in a 72-70 nailbiter in the Sweet 16 to the Arkansas Razorbackss, Oral Roberts’s success will go down as the 2021 March Madness Cinderella story.
The First Seed Falls
The University of Illinois Fighting Illini were the first number one seed to fall, taking many brackets down with them (including the Wire’s!). Although the midwest bracket was thought to be the hardest, the Fighting Illini were predicted to come out on top. The team had all the components to be successful. Apart from Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, Illinois’s Ayo Dosunmu is a strong contestant for the top point guard in college basketball. In addition, the team had the seventh best offense and fifth best defense in America. Their success in the tournament seemed promising until Sister Jean and the eighth seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers defeated the Fighting Illini in a 71-58 match. Illinois’s immediate exit from the tournament was unpredicted, but exemplifies the true craziness of March Madness.
Syracuse Makes a Run
Losing in the Sweet 16 to the Houston Cougars doesn’t take away from the undeniable success Syracuse had this tournament. Coming in as the 11th seed and defeating strong opponents such as sixth seed San Diego State and third seed West Virginia proved that Syracuse could not be counted out. In addition, some of their players had key tournaments that enabled the team to have the success they did. Being their best player throughout the tournament, Buddy Boeheim’s tremendous efforts from the three point line and in the paint averaged him 22.3 points per night. Additionally, Marek Dolezaj has been a staple for the team all year and continued to add to Syracuse’s success. At 6’10 Dolezaj was reliable on offense with shooting 100 percent from the free throw line in the tournament, making nine for nine. Although their tournament didn’t end as they had hoped, Syracuse’s talent looks promising for the future.
North Texas furthers Bracket-Busting
Beating the number four Purdue Boilermakers 78-69 in a thrilling overtime game, the 13 seeded North Texas Mean Green earned not only their first win of the 2021 tournament, but their first NCAA tournament win ever. The Mean Green were strong on defense and driven on offense making it hard for the Boilermakers to contain them. North Texas came out hard and never let down for a second. Their win over Purdue is the definition of leaving it all on the court.