In the fairy tales, Cinderella went to the ball, but this March, the ball went to Cinderella teams, with some historic upsets by underdogs over high seeds.
In early rounds, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a 16 seed, took down top-seeded University of Virginia in the South regional, something that had never happened before, though UMBC was bounced in the next round. Kansas State and Florida State both made runs in the tournament, though both were eventually stopped.
But the biggest story of this year’s tournament was eleventh seeded Loyola-Chicago. The Ramblers, along with their team chaplain and unofficial mascot — 98-year-old nun Sister Jean—beat University of Miami, Tennessee, Nevada, and Kansas State to earn a spot in this year’s Final Four. They are only the fourth 11th seed to ever make the Final Four, and the first since VCU in 2011. Every previous 11th seed lost its first Final Four game.
If Saturday was about upstart teams, Sunday was more predictable as traditional powerhouses Villanova (National Champion in 1985, and 2016) and Kansas (which is appearing in its 15th Final Four–only North Carolina, Kentucky, UCLA, and Duke have more) advanced. Villanova defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 71-59, and Kansas edged the Duke Blue Devils, 85-81, in an exhilarating overtime game. Duke’s stars, including Grayson Allen, and Marvin Bagley III played carelessly towards the end, commiting key turnovers. For Kansas, Malik Newman carried the team scoring all 13 of the Jawhawk’s overtime points. He finished the game with 32 points.
The Final Four is now set: next Saturday, 11th seed Loyola Chicago will play 3rd seed Michigan, and Villanova will play Kansas in a showdown of one seeds. The two winners will meet Monday, April 2nd, to determine this year’s National Champion.
Since none of the teams are from New Jersey and New York, there is probably not a strong favorite among BF students and teachers, but at least one teacher, Ms. McCann, has a clear preference: she attended Villanova, has school decorations all over her classroom, and wants the Wildcats to pounce on the Jayhawks on Saturday night.