March Madness Sweet Sixteen update

Martin Phillips

Sports Editor

mphilli6@unca.edu

Every March since 1939 the NCAA Basketball Tournament, fondly referred to as March Madness, has seen some of the greatest college basketball games ever played.

This year is no different. The tournament, which started on March 19 with 68, teams has progressed to the Sweet Sixteen with only 16 teams remaining. While there were many upsets this year, the top 16 are mostly the top seeded teams, excluding No. 12 Oregon.

The top story in this year’s March Madness tournament is No. 1 Duke and their top player Zion Williamson. Williamson suffered a slight ankle injury early on thanks to an exploding shoe during the first Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry game.

Williamson sat out the rest of the regular season but made his return in the ACC tournament where he led Duke to an ACC championship. Now Williamson and the Blue Devils have their sights set on the championship.

With their win against Virginia Tech, Duke moves forward to the Elite Eight. Their high tempo offense overpowered Virginia Tech in a close 75-73 victory for Duke. Duke has averaged 83.5 points per game this regular season which placed them in the top 10 highest scoring teams in the NCAA.

The championship game that many fans wanted to see, me included, was spoiled with UNC’s crushing loss to Auburn. The final score was 97-80, Auburn’s offense looked unstoppable and was too much for UNC to handle. The Tarheels are the first No. 1 seed eliminated this year.

Virginia, another No. 1 seed, held off the Oregon Fighting Ducks 53-49. While the game was low scoring the energy was tense. Payton Pritchard and Louis King from Oregon missed two key 3-point attempts to tie the game down the stretch and that cost the No. 12 seed their tournament. For a team that was vying for a spot in the NIT up until their winning streak the Ducks have a lot to be proud of this season.

In another low scoring game played the same night, the No. 2 seeded Michigan fell to No. 3 seeded Texas Tech 63-44. Michigan struggled to find their footing offensively throughout the game, only scoring 16 points in the first half.

Purdue and Tennessee battled it out all the way to overtime. Tennessee down 12 going into the 2nd half brought it back and forced the overtime. Admiral Schofield, a guard for the Volunteers, played 42 minutes and scored 21 points, but in the end it wasn’t enough and Tennessee lost 99-94.

Many more exciting games were played in the Sweet Sixteen and many more can be expected down the stretch in the Elite Eight.

Graphic by Martin Phillips

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