Stage is set for Final Four in Minneapolis

The NCAA Tournament has been nothing short of thrilling this season

Brady Olson
Staff Writer

It’s official. The Final Four is set, and the college basketball world is now just three games away from crowning a champion. With this year’s Final Four coming to Minneapolis, let’s recap just how the tournament has gone through the first 64 games.

In the Round of 64, Minnesota fans got to see the Gophers open the round with a fantastic victory over seventh-seeded Louisville. 

Elsewhere, 12-seed Murray State and star guard Ja Morant enjoyed a 19-point throttling of Marquette, being one of three 12-seeds to advance to the second round. 

While the 12-seeds performed well, the tourney was void of many bigger upsets this year, with 13-seed UC Irvine being the lowest seed to win in the first round. 

There was a scare with Virginia, who was playing 16-seed Gardner-Webb. Virginia, who became the first ever 1-seed to lose in the first-round last year, trailed by 14 points early before pulling away late to win 71-56.

The Round of 32 saw even fewer upsets, but saw some thrilling action in the process. 9-seed UCF took Duke to the wire, but star freshmen RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson willed the Blue Devils into the Sweet 16. 

Elsewhere, 10-seed Iowa managed to turn a 25-point deficit into an overtime game, but ultimately ran out of gas against Tennessee. 

Wofford’s 3-point attack was on fire in the first round, but failed to show up in a 62-56 loss to Kentucky. 

12-seed Oregon did succeed in making the Sweet 16, but they were matched up against Irvine.

In the Sweet 16, things got a bit more interesting with Auburn taking down UNC. The fifth-seeded Tigers were the second-lowest seed remaining, and stunned the top-seeded Tar Heels in a 97-80 rout. 

Elsewhere, Virginia survived Oregon, Duke pulled out another close victory over Virginia Tech, and defending runner-up Michigan was blown out by Texas Tech.

The Sweet 16 also saw the last perfect bracket in the world bust. The bracket, titled “Center Road”, made 49 correct picks to open the tournament, and busted on Purdue’s OT win over Tennessee. This was the first ever bracket to survive the opening weekend, as the previous record holder had only survived 39 games, which wouldn’t have even survived to the fourth day of play. This was a big step towards the first ever perfect bracket, but it ultimately did fail, making us wait for at least one more year.

In the Elite Eight, Auburn continued its hot streak by taking down SEC foe Kentucky. Gonzaga would go down in the West Region, falling to Texas Tech. 

The most thrilling game of the round, Duke vs. Michigan State, saw the Blue Devils’ season come to an end at the hands of Michigan State, as a missed free throw from RJ Barrett was the ultimate decider in the 68-67 loss for Duke. 

That left Virginia as the lone 1-seed remaining, whose redemption season stayed alive with an 80-75 win over Purdue.

With just the Final Four remaining, it will be interesting to see what happens with the remaining squads. Can Virginia complete the ultimate comeback season? Can Auburn extend their 12-game winning streak a little further? Or what about Michigan State and Texas Tech? Only time will tell on these teams, so don’t miss what will surely be one exciting Final Four.

Header photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

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