Spring into the madness

By: KYLE BENNETT
Staff Writer

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What would March be without madness? Sports fans gather every March and fill out brackets of the 68 teams that were invited to participate in the 2014 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

The big name teams like Florida, Kansas, Michigan State and Wichita State headlined everyone’s brackets as teams that could possibly win it all.

But this year, much like every year, was a year of the upset. There was the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks, the Mercer Bears, and everyone’s Cinderella, The Dayton Flyers.

Kevin Canevari and the 14-seed Mercer Bears ousted freshman Player of the Year Jabari Parker, and the Number 3 seed Duke Blue Devils. With Parker declaring for the NBA Draft this summer, Duke will have to look for another player to step up and fill the role that Parker will leave behind.

The Stanford Cardinal also wanted to join in on the upset part as they took down 7th seeded New Mexico in the Round of 64 and then took out 2nd seeded Kansas and the other freshman commodity, Andrew Wiggins. Stanford went on to play against the 11th seeded Dayton Flyers and lost 82-72.

The regular-season shocker, the Wildcats of Villanova, were a 2-seed in the East bracket, only made it out of the Round of 64 before being defeated by 7th-seeded UConn.

UConn would not take one upset as satisfaction. The Huskies went on to defeat 3rd seeded Iowa State 81-76 to position them with a matchup against a big under-seeded favorite in Michigan State. UConn would pull away with a 60-54 victory to land a spot in the Final 4 against Number 1 overall seed Florida.

The Florida Gators, the Number 1 overall seed, made it to the Final Four where they were expected to defeat the pesky UConn Huskies. Florida trailed by three points going into halftime but Shabazz Napier; the senior leader for UConn took over and took his team to the Championship game by taking down Florida 63-53.

A huge question going in to the tournament was how John Calipari and his 8-seed Kentucky Wildcats would fair in the high intensity of the NCAA Tournament. With Coach Calipari having an entire starting 5 comprised of all freshmen, many experts were not sure how they would handle the pressure.

Kentucky escaped its Round of 64 matchup by 7 points. They then met Number 1 seed Wichita State in the Round of 32 and won a thriller by a score of 78-76. The biggest test the faced turned into an instant classic as they defeated in-state rival and defending National Champion Louisville 74-69. Kentucky would then turn its next two games in the Elite 8 and Final 4 into the biggest nail biters of 2014. They would win their next two games against Michigan and Wisconsin by three points and one point respectively.

The Championship Game would be a 7 seed versus an 8 seed. UConn was the first 7 seed to compete for a college title and Kentucky would send out the first all freshman-starting lineup for the first time since 1992.

The game was intense the entire way, as UConn would go into halftime with a 35-31 lead. Kentucky would not have enough energy left to keep up with the Huskies, as Shabazz Napier and UConn would win their 2nd title in four years and 4th in the last 15.

The NCAA Tournament never fails to entertain. Between the teams we love and hate, to the teams that become a Cinderella story, to the eventual Champion, we all as sports fans find something to enjoy during March Madness. With all the upsets we witnessed this season and watching a 7 seed cut down the nets, we only have to wait a little over 300 more days until the madness returns.

 

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