Every March, spring rolls in, the clocks jump forward an hour (damn you, Daylight Savings) and utter madness ensues as millions of Americans obsess over 68 college basketball teams for a few weeks.
But it’s also dope, and this year’s NCAA tournament has already produced some pretty big moments with plenty of games left to be played.
Of course, it’s only fair to look at UNC advancing to its ninth Sweet 16 appearance under Roy Williams, which was due in part to Justin Jackson’s record-breaking shooting and a clutch 12-0 run to overcome a feisty Arkansas squad in the Round of 32. (Let’s not talk about the 17-point lead that was quickly squandered, OK? OK.)
Other teams had clutch performances to secure victories as well.
The University of Southern California, an 11-seed that played in the First Four, sank 6-seed Southern Methodist with a game-winning three pointer by Elijah Stewart.
Oregon's Tyler Dorsey showed off his range as well, draining a game-winning triple to lead the 3-seed Ducks past 11-seed Rhode Island to make the Sweet 16.
Kentucky scraped by under-seeded Wichita State by making huge plays on the defensive end, blocking two shots within the final minute to secure a Sweet 16 berth of their own.
The under-seeded Wisconsin Badgers, however, were more fortunate, taking down the reigning champion Villanova Wildcats in the Round of 32, with Nigel Hayes sealing the game with a filthy dribble move to score in the closing seconds.
But some plays didn’t end up with fans cheering and screaming in delight.
Instead, one young Northwestern fan yelled in complete disappointment and agony as Northwestern’s comeback bid against 1-seed Gonzaga fell short. This passionate child — donning a purple jersey and screaming through his braces — overshadowed what was a truly monumental run by the Northwestern Wildcats, who made the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. However, after facing a lowly Vanderbilt team in the first round, they were heavily outmatched against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Despite trailing by as many as 20 points, they fought back to make the game somewhat competitive, and the Northwestern Kid — tears and all — was incoherently cheering for them the entire time.
Speaking of crying children, Duke lost to a lower-seeded team — yes, again — and it was glorious.
It was a fitting end — featuring a comeback by the University of South Carolina — to a tumultuous season of insane highs and lows for the Blue Devils.
Duke was ranked No. 1 overall in the preseason AP Top 25 poll; the freshman quartet of Frank Jackson, Marques Bolden, Jayson Tatum, and Harry Giles was touted as one of Duke’s best freshman classes ever; Giles and Bolden each got hurt, and only played limited minutes throughout the season; Grayson Allen was Grayson Allen; Coach K had back surgery, and the Blue Devils struggled during his absence; players were barred from wearing Duke gear and entering their own locker room for a few days due to these struggles; they rallied to win the ACC Tournament, entering the NCAA Tournament as a 2-seed and favorites on betting sites.
All of these events, especially the recent success, left many people asking if Duke was “back.”