Crazy 2014 ranks with Maddest of March tourneys

Pure madness. The 2014 NCAA Tournament was absolutely insane. It was full of inconceivable upsets, exhilarating finishes and soul crushing defeats. To make things even crazier, billionaire Warren Buffett, vowed one billion dollars to anyone who was able to get every single pick correct.

With that opportunity dangling, 11 million brackets were submitted on ESPN.com, an all time high for the website. The most common champions selected were No.1 seed Florida who were picked by one out of every four people.

President Barack Obama selected No. 1 seeds Florida and Arizona to go with No. 4 seeds Michigan State and Louisville. He predicted Michigan State to top Louisville. Although he only hit on one Final Four team, Obama fell in the 73.8 percentile.

The madness started in the very first game when No. 11 seed Dayton from the Atlantic-10 upset Big 10 powerhouse Ohio State and 80 percent of brackets on ESPN.com were already busted. Dayton would make it all the way to the Elite Eight under the direction of Archie Miller, the brother of Arizona head coach Sean Miller.

The round of 64 frenzy continued as upsets like North Dakota State over Oklahoma, Stephen F. Austin over VCU and Harvard over Cincinnati kicked off the tournament’s madness.

No. 8 seed Kentucky added a big upset over Wichita State in the round of 32. Wichita State came in as the first to enter the tournament undefeated since UNLV did it in 1991, but the Shockers’ perfect 34-0 season ended 34-1 after point guard Fred Van Vleet’s shot couldn’t find the bottom of the net as time expired.

John Callipari and his five starting freshmen moved on to face defending national champions Louisville for the second time. Kentucky got the upperhand in the first matchup winning 73-66 and made it a twin killing as they won the Sweet 16 matchup 74-69. The Wildcats moved on to face the Wolverines of Michigan where freshman Aaron Harrison hit a game winning three pointer with 2.3 seconds left to send Kentucky to their second Final Four in three years.

The Big 10’s Wisconsin came up next in the Final Four. The Wildcats were down two. Andrew Harrison passed it to his twin brother Aaron, who hit a nearly identical shot from three as the one that in an earlier game had propelled his team over Michigan. The Wildcats had beaten Wisconsin. Big Blue Nation and Kentucky would face the University of Connecticut in the championship game.

No. 7 seed UConn didn’t take the easy route to the Final Four. In the opening round they were taken to overtime and nearly beaten in the very first game by St. Joe’s. The Huskies then went on to beat No. 2 VIllanova, a banged up No. 3 Iowa State and possible tournament favorite No. 4 Michigan State to advance to the Final Four. They were pitted up against the top seed in the entire tournament, Florida, who was riding a 30-game winning streak. UConn defeated Florida 63-53 and were the first seven seed to ever make an appearance in the title game.

UConn stormed out to an early lead behind senior Shabazz Napier, and while Kentucky came within a single point, three separate times in the second half, they were unable to replicate what the Fab Five of Michigan did and win the title with five freshmen starters.

Napier was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player and will likely be picked in the first round of the NBA draft along with many of his Kentucky competitors.

The 2014 tournament might have been the best yet, and while the national runner up was filled with freshmen, the “year of the freshmen” headlined by Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Joel Embiid never lived up to the hype as none of those players were able to advance to the Sweet 16.

There are still some decisions to be made on futures, but three teams to look out for next season are Wisconsin, Duke, and Arizona.

March Madness solidified its place as the best time of the sports year this season, and I know I’m not alone in saying this, I can’t wait until next year.

 

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