With one of the most strange and memorable years in College Basketball history coming to an end, it was only right that the NCAA tournament brought some memories with it. Between the buzzer beaters, upsets and games that had the fans on the edge of their seats, it will be confidently said by a lot of people that this was their favorite tournament ever. Here were some of the best moments:
Oral Roberts: The Cinderella Story
Oral Roberts went into their conference tournament as the 4th seeded team but managed to slip their way to a conference championship and get themselves into the tournament. They were matched up against Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State. The Golden Eagles had their backs against the wall as they were heavy underdogs. But the dynamic duo of Max Abmas and Kevin Obanor led them to an overtime victory against the Buckeyes, securing one of the biggest upsets of all time. They would then go on to have another narrow victory against the Florida Gators in the round of 32, making them only one of two 15 seeds to make it to the sweet sixteen. Unfortunately, in the sweet sixteen game vs Arkansas, Abmas’ buzzer-beater attempt just barely missed the hoop, and the Golden Eagles historical journey came to a heartbreaking end. However, the performances of Abmas, Obanor and the entire Oral Roberts squad will not be forgotten.
From First Four to Final 4
On Selection Sunday, prior to the tournament, the UCLA Bruins were unsure whether their team would go on to play another game or if their season would be over. Luckily for them, they were awarded a spot in a First Four play-in game. There they would play the Michigan State Spartans, defeating them as the underdogs, in overtime. Although thankful to be on the court, the Bruins were not even near finished, as they would go on to beat BYU, Abilene Christian, Alabama and Michigan to advance to the Final Four. They are the second team to ever go from the First Four all the way to the Final Four. And while the Bruins opened at as many as 14 point underdogs, they fought the game all the way into overtime before losing on a buzzer-beating three-pointer. Yet another Cinderella story that came to a heartbreaking conclusion. However, Johnny Juzang proved himself to be one of the best players in the country, possibly getting on the radar of some NBA teams. If Juzang decides to return to the roster and the Bruins return the rest of their roster, they might be able to make a run for a national title.
Buzzer Beaters and Game Winners:
Jalen Suggs had a 37-foot three-pointer, assisted by Corey Kispert, to send the Gonzaga Bulldogs onto the National Championship game.
Alabama’s Alex Reese had a three-pointer in the Elite 8 as time expired, and tied the game at 65-65, which sent the game to overtime. However, UCLA went on to win the game in overtime.
Virginia Tech’s Nahiem Alleyne made a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the round of 64 game vs Florida to overtime. Florida would go on to win the game in overtime.
Abilene Christian’s Joe Pleasant made two game-winning free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to push the 14 seed Wildcats over the 3 seed Texas Longhorns.
Baylor wins their first National Championship
Through all the COVID-19 cancellations, quarantines, stress and changes, the Baylor Bears proved to be the team that was able to get the job done in the end and claim their first championship. Head coach Scott Drew led them the whole way and helped get his team ready before every game. Some of the top players for the Baylor Bears were Jared Butler, Macio Teague and Davion Mitchell. They didn’t have a super easy path and had a couple of bumps in the road on the way to the title, but they persevered and proved to be the best of all teams in one of the weirdest years of college basketball ever.
Baylor’s road to the national championship:
Round of 64: 79-55 win over Hartford
Round of 32: 76-63 win over Wisconsin
Sweet Sixteen: 62-51 win over Villanova
Elite 8: 81-72 win over Arkansas
Final Four: 78-59 win over Houston
National Championship: 86-70 win over Gonzaga