UNC wins 6th national championship
Monday, April 3rd, 2017 marks the end of another exciting year of March Madness, with University of North Carolina as the new national champions. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Basketball Tournament, more widely known as March Madness, is a single-elimination tournament that includes 68 college basketball teams from Division I of the NCAA. All 68 teams are divided into 4 regions and compete in 6 rounds: the Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and finally the championships. The tournament was recently expanded to 68 teams from the original 64 in 2011. Those four teams play in an opening round to decide who will play with the top 64. This year was full of all sorts of exciting plays and unexpected outcomes.
Already, in the round of 64, things were getting heated. The biggest highlight of this year’s first round was Northwestern’s first-ever NCAA Tournament debut and win against Vanderbilt. The game was surely a close one, but Northwestern was able to hold on to the 68-66 lead they earned with merely 12 seconds left of the game. Another big moment was the No. 12 seed, Middle Tennessee, beating the No. 5 seed, Minnesota, 81-72, giving them a pass to the second round. Along with the thrilling matches, a huge upset came during Seton Hall’s match against Arkansas; with only a couple of seconds left, Seton Hall was called with a flagrant foul that ultimately ended its season. Some other highlights included: Michigan beating Oklahoma State 92-91 and Notre Dame upsetting Princeton 60-58.
The round of 32 was perhaps one of the most thrilling, or upsetting, rounds of the whole tournament. Wisconsin was able to knock off top seed, Villanova, winning 65-62 and leaving many people’s brackets crushed. Additionally, South Carolina was able to come back the second half and ultimately defeat the number two seed in the East Region, Duke, 88-81. In the midwest region, Michigan was able to beat Louisville, and in the West Region, Xavier triumphed over Florida State, making it to Sweet Sixteen.
Sweet Sixteen was another exhilarating round, especially since it brought the first of many buzzer beaters into this year’s tournament. Chris Chiozza from University of Florida, scored the winning three-point buzzer beater to defeat Wisconsin in overtime. One of the best games of this round was the Xavier vs. Arizona game. Not only was No. 11 Xavier the underdogs, previously beating No. 6 Maryland, but they also had lost their best player to injury. However, Xavier was able to upset the No. 2 seed with a 73-71 win, and advance to Elite Eight.
The fourth round of the tournament had little drama. No. 1 UNC was able to secure its spot in the Final Four after defeating No. 2 Kentucky 75-73. The other three teams would include: No. 7 South Carolina, who made a second half comeback against No. 4 Florida; No. 3 Oregon, who would be headed to its first Final Four since 1939; and Gonzaga.
The matchups for Final Four were as follows: South Carolina vs Gonzaga and Oregon vs UNC. Gonzaga was able to beat South Carolina 77-73 and head to its first national championship game in school history. Looking at the other match-up, UNC was barely able to secure its spot in the championships after a tough game against Oregon, winning 77-76 by a mere one point.
This years championship game was a thrilling one. UNC was looking to win the national title after its unfortunate loss against Villanova last year. However, Gonzaga was not going to give it to them without a fight. Gonzaga started the game off strong and was able to lead 35-32 by halftime. Despite the two-point lead, UNC came back 37-35 after halftime. The two teams went back and forth for a while until they were tied 65-65 with only two minutes left. Finally, UNC was able to get back ahead, and ultimately win the game 71-65. North Carolina won its 6th NCAA National Championship, and earn the title of 2017 College Basketball National Champions.