2021 March Madness, The Cinderella Story That Never Was: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
This is the first March Madness we have seen since the pandemic and it did not disappoint. It gave us a sense of normality even if just for a month. Each player gave their all and what more could fans ask for. There were many upsets however, it wasn’t the Cinderella story we all thought we might see. Nevertheless, it had a thrill and it was worth every minute here is the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Congratulations to the Baylor Bears for winning their first NCAA Championship in school history. They defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 86-70 in the big game. The Bears suffocating defense proved too much for the Zags as they were in control for most of the game. The tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, G Jared Butler, led the way with 22 points and 7 assists, G MaCio Teague followed him with 19 and G Davion Mitchell had 15. Baylor came ready to play in this tournament, finishing 28-2 and defeating nearly every team in the tourney by double digits(Arkansas lost by 9). Scott Drew and his Bears now join College Basketball’s history books.
The Cinderella team this tournament, Oral Roberts did indeed leave a statement. After finishing just 18-11 and limping their way into the tournament, many expected Oral Roberts to be one and done at the hands of powerhouse Ohio State but that proved not to be the case. The ultimate underdogs, Oral Roberts made life difficult for the Buckeyes forcing 16 turnovers.
The unlikely duo of F Kevin Obanor and G Max Abmas combined for 59 points to send the Buckeyes home in overtime. After sending the #2 ranked Buckeyes packing, Oral Roberts had a meeting with #7 Florida. Much like with Ohio State, Florida repeatedly turned the ball over, totaling 19 turnovers. The duo of Obanor and Abmas had a combined 54 points and not a single Gator scored more than 20 points.
Although the Gators shot better and out rebounded Oral Roberts, they were outscored on points off turnovers 23-13. Although Oral Roberts would eventually fall to Arkansas by the score of 72-70, there’s no doubt they were one of the more fun teams to watch this year.
After finishing 20-9 and as an 11th seed, it’s safe to say UCLA exceeded expectations. UCLA went from the First Four to the Final Four. After blowing Abilene Christian out by 20 to get into the Sweet 16, UCLA took down some notable foes. Mick Cronin’s squad would first meet heavily favored Alabama.
The trio of former Kentucky transfer Johnny Juzang, Jules Bernard and Jamie Jaquez Jr kept Alabama at bay. They beat Alabama from the free-throw line with the Crimson Tide going a putrid 11/25(44%) from the charity stripe. Against #11 Michigan, Juzang went off for an easy 28 points, despite not being 100% but it was the Bruins defense that went off. The Wolverines missed their final 8 shots and were thrown out of rhythm.
In one of the greatest college basketball games ever played, UCLA pushed Gonzaga to the limit. Juzang had 29 and Jaquez Jr had 19 but it took Jalen Suggs’ “Kiss of Death” banked 3 to finally send the Bruins home. A little payback for Adam Morrison back in 2006. UCLA played in 3 overtime tournament games and definitely won a ton of respect. Defiant until the very end.
After finishing 22-9 and having the 2nd seed, many experts had Iowa in the Final Four but the Hawkeyes didn’t even get to the Sweet 16. Despite the brilliance of Naismith Player of the Year Luka Garza, the Hawkeyes were still upset by the Oregon Ducks. Despite Garza’s 36 points and 9 rebounds, Oregon was too sound offensively.
The Hawkeyes allowed Oregon to shoot 11/25(44%) from 3 and 38/68(56%) from the field. Iowa got picked apart defensively with 4 out of 5 Oregon starters tallying over 15 points. Many people’s sleeper to win it all, they massively underachieved.
These Illini didn’t do much fighting against 8th seeded Loyola Chicago. Illinois looked overmatched. Where on earth was Ayo Dosunmu this game? His team needed him most, and he could not get it going. The future NBA prospect played 38 minutes and scored 9 points.
Outside of Kofi Cockburn’s 21, no other Illini scored over 15. Illinois made 4 3-pointers the entire game. Loyola Chicago shot over 50% from the field and 40% from 3. It is hard to tell whether Loyola Showed out or Illinois failed to show up.
You’re the defending champs, right? You wouldn’t know that from this game. I mean, they lost to Ohio. they didn’t even lose to the good team in that state. After going 18-7 and winning the ACC, they had a pretty easy test. You were a 4 seed facing a 13 seed, what could go wrong?
they only had 3 turnovers and still lost. they allowed Ohio to get on an 18-4 run in the 2nd half and never got the lead back. Starters Reece Beckman and Kihei Clark both played over 35 minutes and had 9 and 6 points respectively. Ohio didn’t play great by any means, they just outplayed Virginia. To sum everything up, Virginia looked unprepared.
Texas was the number 3 seed, up against a 14th seed, a team that had no business being in this tournament.
Most people don’t even know where Abilene Christian is. Texas Played down to their competition big time. Abilene Christian forced 22 turnovers on Texas. This upset was one of the worst in the tournament but it made the excitement that much higher.
No Kentucky or Duke for the first time since 1976? Finally a chance to make your mark and dominate right? News flash, Rock Chalk, y’all suck. You let the Mobley brothers combine for 27 and y’all got blown out by 34 points. Kansas got absolutely murked this game. The worst margin of defeat in program history.
Maybe next year we will see the cinderella story or maybe not, one thing that we can be happy about is that March Madness is back.