By: Giovanni Culotta
For sports fans across America, the month of March is a godsend. Why? Because it’s bracket time. The NCAA tournament, or “March Madness,” draws viewers of all ages to their TV screens, following as many games as possible. Fans everywhere were anxiously waiting for the tournament after last year’s was cancelled due to the COVID-19 lockdown. This year’s tourney was defined by upset after upset, even more so than past tournaments. The inaugural rounds of the 68-team tournament featured the most upsets before the Sweet 16 in tournament history, per Yahoo! Sports. Fierce underdogs such as #11 Syracuse, #12 Oregon State, #11 UCLA and #15 Oral Roberts (the most surprising of them all) advanced to the Sweet 16 by beating heavyweight teams like #2 Ohio State, #3 West Virginia, and #4 Oklahoma State. The UCLA Bruins barely made it into the tournament, squeaking in through the play-in games. Not only did they shock the world and make it to the sweet sixteen, but they made it to the final four and took #1 seed Gonzaga to overtime. While the inordinate number of upsets did their work in busting the brackets of millions of Americans, the Final Four saw three top seeds (#1Gonzaga, #1 Baylor and #2 Houston) stand with the Bruins as the top teams of the tournament. Baylor defeated Houston with ease, 78-59, and advanced to their first national championship since 1947 in the process. It wasn’t until the second game of the final four matchups that things got interesting. At halftime, the Zags held a 1-point lead over the Bruins. At the end of regulation, the two teams were tied at 81. However, the overtime period was the pièce de résistance. With the game tied at 90, and time running out, Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs took the inbound to just before half-court and shot it, praying it would go in. All fans know the drill here: Players just heave these shots up at the end of a half or the game, expecting to miss. Not so fast. Suggs’ miracle shot actually dropped and sent Gonzaga to their second national championship in school history. The shot garnered a reaction from fans and players alike, all in unanimous agreement about how crazy the end of that game was. The icing on the cake of the wild NCAA tournament was the national championship between Gonzaga and Baylor (two #1 seeds, after all of those upsets). Right from the tip-off, Baylor was the better team. Although Gonzaga made it close, the Bears were too much to handle as they captured their second national title in school history and dethroned the previously undefeated #1 team in the country (at least that’s what the rankings said). What a tournament it was; it was certainly one of the best in recent memory. In a year with so much uncertainty and hardship, it was nice to have some semblance of normalcy with a big sporting event like this. Now all we have to do is anxiously wait 365 days for the next NCAA tourney.