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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Men’s March Madness Final Four features one of the most unique lineups ever

To say the annual NCAA March Madness basketball tournament has lived up to its name this year could be a drastic understatement. No first seeds in the Elite Eight, a 16th seed in the Final Four and a historically poor performance from the top freshman (1)this year’s tournament has had it all. However, the madness is coming to a conclusion rather soon. 

This year’s Final Four features three schools that have never reached this point before, and a school that hasn’t been there in nine years. None of these schools were top favorites going into the tournament, either. Fellow students from across the United States have an opportunity to show out on one of the biggest stages in college sports for the first time in their school’s history. 

Representing the south quarter of the bracket are the San Diego State Aztecs. The Aztecs were a fifth seed and are a relatively smaller program. In a quarter with The University of Alabama Crimson Tide, The University of Arizona Wildcats and other tough programs, the Aztecs were considered an afterthought. Some believed they wouldn’t even make it past their first-round matchup, the College of Charleston Cougars (2). 

However, the Aztecs have proved many people wrong. Their defensive capabilities and three-point shooting have led them past the Cougars, The University of Furman Paladins, the Crimson Tide and the Creighton Blue Jays (3). Their guard trio of Matt Bradley, Lamont Butler and Darrion Trammell proved to be troublesome for opponents despite their smaller size. Small ball has been the key to success for the Aztecs as they look to take a trip to Houston for the national championship. 

Their opponent is not only the lowest seed remaining, but a team that has only ever been invited to the tournament twice. Florida Atlantic University’s Owls are this year’s Cinderella. The Owls came into the tournament only losing three games all year, but despite this, they came into the tournament as a ninth seed.  

The Owls have proven themselves despite their low seeding, as they’ve been able to defeat every opponent in their path so far in the NCAA tournament. The one thing about this team is they cannot be counted out no matter what the score is. The Owls were losing at one point in every game they’ve played in the tournament so far, and in every circumstance, they were able to come back and win (4). 

Their backcourt of Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin have been able to shoot the ball efficiently and push the Owls to where they are currently. If there’s one thing to be expected in their matchup against the Aztecs, it’s plenty of three-point shots. No matter who comes out on top in this matchup, it will be the winner’s first trip to the National Championship in the history of their programs. 

On the other side of the bracket are a closer school, the University of Connecticut Huskies. UConn has always been famous for their basketball program, but since their title run in 2014, they have been on a bit of a cold streak. Alongside being a fourth seed, the Huskies have blown out every opponent in their way, winning by double digits in each game (5). This makes them the current favorites to cut down the nets, and understandably so (6).  

Their offense, led by guard Jordan Hawkins and forward Adama Sanogo, have made their mark in the tournament thus far. This team has proven they will be difficult to take down, but the school coming out of the midwest quarter is rather familiar with tough opponents. 

The last of the four teams is the University of Miami Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are known for their legendary football program, but basketball has never been their biggest strength. However, coming in as a fifth seed this year, the Hurricanes have been tearing through the competition.  

What makes their run so special is the fact that they’ve had arguably the toughest road of the four. They started the tournament making a comeback against the University of Drake’s Bulldogs, a popular upset pick. They had to make it through the fourth-seeded Indiana University Hoosiers, the first-seeded University of Houston Cougars, and the second-seeded University of Texas Longhorns (7). 

Miami’s first-ever Final Four run can be seen as improbable, but with the help of their guard trio of Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller and Nijel Pack, they’ve been able to pull off upset after upset. They are once again the lower seed in their matchup against UConn, but it shouldn’t surprise anybody if they are the ones to knock the remaining favorites out. 

March Madness is a time of great stories, and this year has provided nothing but that. Everybody loves an underdog, so why not four of them? Odds have been defied in this tournament, and as March Madness comes to a close, it proves again that, though every bracket—including UMass Boston students’—is busted, it is a can’t-miss event. 

  

Sources: 

  

  1. https://www.si.com/college/2023/03/25/brandon-miller-historically-rough-ncaa-tournament-stats-alabama-crimson-tide 

  1. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sports/aztecs/story/2023-03-13/san-diego-state-sdsu-aztecs-basketball-charleston-cougars-ncaa-tournament-notebook 

  1. https://goaztecs.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule/2022-23 

  1. https://fausports.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule/2022-23 

  1. https://uconnhuskies.com/sports/mens-basketball/schedule/2022-23 

  1. https://www.cbssports.com/college-basketball/news/2023-final-four-odds-lines-uconn-san-diego-state-open-as-favorites-huskies-favored-to-win-ncaa-tournament/ 

  1. https://miamihurricanes.com/sports/mbball/schedule/ 

About the Contributor
Liam Crampton, Sports Writer