Harrison Leipold – March Madness Recap

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There is a reason they call it March Madness.  The NCAA basketball tournament always seems to be full of excitement and upsets from beginning to end, and this year was no exception.  In fact, this year may have been one of the most exhilarating and upset-filled tournaments there have ever been. 

On the first afternoon of the tournament alone, there were four buzzer-beating shots to win games, including a shocking win for 13th seeded Morehead State over 4th seeded Louisville.  Then came the second round where the upsets really started to pour in.  Five teams that were seeded lower than their opponents came away victorious, eliminating a four seed, two three seeds, one two seed, and even number one seeded Pitt.  In several cases, the favorites that did pull through did not win by more than just a few points, including Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, and San Diego State, who beat Temple in double overtime.

As the Sweet Sixteen rolled around, the top seeds continued to fall at a record pace.  Kentucky defeated the tournament’s overall number one seed in Ohio State, and Arizona knocked off number one seed and defending national champion Duke.  Also at this time, it started to become very clear that this year’s tournament had two Cinderella teams.  One was very experienced in the position as Butler made an improbable return to the Final Four as an eight seed, but they weren’t the biggest surprise.  That title went to Virginia Commonwealth University, who made their first final four ever as an eleven seed after knocking off top-seeded Kansas.  This matched the lowest-seeded team ever to reach that point.  Furthermore, the Final Four did not include any number one or two seeds.

After two close semi-final games, Uconn and Butler pulled through to advance to the 73rd NCAA Tournament Championship game in Houston’s Reliant Stadium on April 4, 2011.  For the second straight season, Butler fell in the championship game, this time by a score of 53-41.  Despite actually leading 22-19 at halftime, the Bulldogs shot only 18% from the floor for the game, the lowest shooting percentage in NCAA Championship game history.  For Coach Jim Calhoun it was his third National Championship with Uconn and star guard Kemba Walker was named tournament MVP after leading the team with 16 points in the title game.  Now the long wait continues until next March, when all of the madness returns.