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March Madness 2024 Review: Who Were the Winners & Losers?

Here are the highlights of this year’s March Madness!

Credit: March Madness/YouTube

It’s official! The basketball-packed month of March (and a little bit of April) concluded on Monday night. The matchup between defending champions UConn and Purdue wrapped March Madness up with a tight bow. Let’s look back on the tournament and review the highlights.

Oakland, Who?

Rewinding all the way back to the beginning of the tournament, the Golden Grizzlies had the first upset of the bracket. They went head to head with 3rd seed Kentucky, and were able to come out on top with a final score of 80-76.

Jack Gohlke of Oakland. Credit: March Madness/Youtube

The star of the show was Jack Gohlke, who put up 32 points over Kentucky. Gohlke was putting up shots from anywhere and everywhere. The Guard took the Internet by storm with his abnormal but effective playing style. He scored 10 3-pointers that night.

Click here to see every 3-pointer Gohlke scored.

Oakland’s 15 minutes of fame was short lived as they were knocked out by NC State in the next round. However, Gohlke and the Golden Grizzlies captured the nation’s attention in the first round.

Duke and Jared McCain

The Duke Blue Devils have always been hot in the world of college basketball. Going into the tournament as the four seed, they were expected to make a solid run.

Duke celebrating over win against Houston. Credit: March Madness/YouTube

They took care of business where needed to, taking down Vermont and JMU, but their big shining moment was taking down 1 seed Houston. The Cougars were projected to go very far in the tournament and this came as a shock to many.

Duke had one standout player of the tournament. That is freshman guard Jared McCain. On the court, McCain hustled to put up points in every game of the tournament.

Off the court, McCain built his presence on TikTok, documenting his whole experience and becoming a viral sensation. His personality shines through posts and builds a whole new base of Duke fans.

Credit: TikTok/@jaredmccain24

Unfortunately, Duke was taken down by NC State during the Elite Eight. Regardless, McCain has a lot of college basketball left to play as he is only a freshman. Definitely a player to keep an eye on going forward.

NC State: A Cinderella Story

Speaking of NC State, they have been labeled as this year’s underdogs. Entering the tournament as an 11 seed, they weren’t even expected to get past the first round against Texas Tech. Nevertheless, the Wolfpack persisted.

The ran through Oakland, Duke, and even 2 seed Marquette, punching their ticket to the Final Four. NC State has not done this since 1983, the same year the team took home the NCAA Championship title.

The hype around the Wolfpack was rightfully deserved. They are only the seventh double-digit seed to make it to the Final Four in NCAA Tournament history. However, they fell short to Purdue in the semifinal game. Fluke or not, NC State was the talk of college basketball this past month.

NC State punched their ticket to the Final Four. Credit: March Madness/YouTube

The Championship Matchup

Purdue’s Zach Edey. Credit: March Madness/YouTube

Lastly, in the final game of March Madness, the Boilmakers faced the Huskies in a heated matchup between the East and Midwest champions.

Purdue Boilmakers

Purdue was a powerhouse in every game in which they were featured leading up to the final. The big man on the court proved to be Zach Edey. The 7’4″ center put up over 20 points in every game leading up to UConn, his highest total being 40 points in Purdue’s game against Tennessee. He towered over the competition, literally and figuratively.

UConn Huskies

Going into the Championship game, UConn dominated their side of the bracket, winning by margins ranging from 14-point differential all the way to 39-points back in the first round of games. The Huskies definitely earned their place in the NCAA Championship game.

The Championship Game

The game started off in favor of Purdue who were first to put points on the board. Zach Edey went on a 37 point run with 25 shot attempts. On paper, that seems to set the team up for success, which it did for the first half. However, UConn is a second half squad.

At half, the score was 36-30 in favor of UConn. The two teams were back and forth between leading; it was an exciting game to watch. However, the lack of 3-pointers from Purdue would be their ultimate demise. UConn limited Purdue to seven 3-point attempts, only allowing one to go in. The overreliance on Edey in the paint showed in the final box score. UConn’s coach Dan Hurley commented on their defensive strategy following the game.

“We didn’t care if Zach took 25, 28 shots to get 30, 35 points. This whole game plan was, like, no (Braden) Smith, no (Fletcher) Loyer, no (Mason) Gillis, no (Lance) Jones. Keep that collective group under 18, 20 points. They had no chance to win, no matter how well Zach played.”

Dan Hurley

Edey’s effective hook shot would not be enough to put Purdue ahead. On the other side of the board, Tristen Newton dominated the court that night. He put up 20 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. On the defensive end, Donovan Clingan primarily guarded on Edey for one-on-one situations. Clingan still managed to put up a share of 11 points with 5 rebounds.

At the end of the night, UConn secured their lead with a score of 75-60.

UConn: First team to Repeat since 2007

Overall, there’s no doubt in my mind UConn deserved this title just as much as last year’s. Looking at their regular season record and their tournament stats, they were easily the favored team by far. Tristen Newton earned the title Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. UConn is the first team to go back to back since Florida in 2007, who were the first to follow since Duke in 1992. Keep in mind this was not an easy feat.

Clingan leading the Huskies out to the court. Credit: March Madness/YouTube

“To me, it is more impressive than what Florida and Duke did because they brought back their entire teams. We lost some major players.”

Dan Hurley

UConn earned their One Shining Moment, a moment those players will never forget.

Written By

I am a student-athlete from Tampa, Florida and I am currently working toward my Bachelor of Science in Sport Management with an emphasis in Marketing, looking to graduate in the Spring of 2025. After university, I hope to join the sport industry and specialize in Game Day Operations and Event Organization while continuing my love for sport by coaching soccer in my free time.

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