March Madness 2022 fit the classic mold that its title portrays; it had the classic cinderella, the overlooked run-of-the-mill middle-tier seeds, and the quintessential one seeds that ended up finishing worse than anticipated. Day one of March Madness is usually underwhelming as the opening slate is chock full of 16-1 and 15-2 seed matchups that always end up with a lopsided result.
However, this year, this precedent was proven untrue. With one of the biggest shocks in recent March Madness history, the number 15-seed Saint Peter’s Peacocks knocked off the number two seed Kentucky Wildcats, many of whom picked them as their national champions. After this program-altering victory for the number 15-seeded Cinderella, many thought their magic run would end against the 7-seeded Murray State Racers, who finished 18-0 in conference play during the regular season and 31-3 overall. However, the Peacocks’ destiny did not end there as they came out on top with a final score of 70-60; Saint Peter’s was onto the Sweet 16.
When it came to the other significant round of 32 games, numerous other plots continued to blossom. The 11-seeded Iowa State Cyclones, who finished 0-18 in conference play and 2-22 overall the previous year in 2021, managed to knock off the 3-seeded Wisconsin Badgers led by sophomore shooting guard Johnny Davis. However, the madness does not end there. The number 2-seeded Auburn Tigers, led by the consensus number-one overall pick for the 2022 NBA Draft, forward Jabari Smith, and arguably one of college basketball’s best coaches, Bruce Pearl, had their season ended earlier than expected. They lost in the round of 32 to the number 10-seeded Miami Hurricanes. While the 2021-2022 Hurricanes were a solid group, led by veteran guards Kameron McGusty and Charlie Moore, many-picked them to be a first-round exit against the 7-seeded USC Trojans. Nevertheless, Miami exceeded the expectations of many, but, in the following round, the Sweet 16, the Hurricanes came up short in a blowout loss to the 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks out of the midwest region. In another notable fashion, the 8-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels, led by forwards Brady Manek and Armando Bacot and guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis, knocked off the defending National Champion Baylor Bears. The latter of which many picked to win their second straight national championship.
To cap off the second round, the veteran Drew Timme and rookie Chet Holmgren-led Gonzaga Bulldogs, America’s number-one overall seed and favorite to win the whole tournament, shocked the world and lost a close battle against the 4-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks with the score being 74-68, ushered by coach Eric Musselman, a coach who prides himself on the betterment of his players. In the next round, the Sweet 16, the 15-seeded Saint Peter’s Peacocks continued their incredible run, guided by fan-favorite Doug Edert and sensational coach Shaheen Holloway, defeating the number 3-seeded Purdue Boilermakers. The Boilermakers arguably had one of the best players in the NCAA Tournament in guard Jaden Ivey, who is likely to be a top 10 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. The Tar Heels and the Hurricanes continued their storied runs, advancing onto the Elite 8, one step closer to the ultimate stage in New Orleans. However, in the Elite 8, these storied runs for the Peacocks and the Hurricanes ended as the UNC Tarheels and Kansas Jayhawks moved onto the Final Four. Duke, led by arguably one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball, Mike Krzyzewski, led the Blue Devils to the Final Four in his final season at the helm.
Led by freshman forward Paolo Banchero, who is likely to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. The 2-seeded Villanova Wildcats, led by their coach, Jay Wright, and their veteran leaders, guard Collin Gillespie and Jaylen Samuels. The Wildcats snuck out of the Elite 8; however, coming with a sacrifice: they lost one of their best players all season in Justin Moore, who averaged 14.8 points per game in the regular season. Moore, injured in the matchup against Houston, was sidelined for the rest of the tournament. The stage was set in New Orleans: the Kansas Jayhawks, the Duke Blue Devils, the Villanova Wildcats, and the North Carolina Tar Heels. In a storied matchup between the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels, meeting for their first-ever time in the history of March Madness, the underdog Tar Heels came out as the victor and spoiled Coach K’s fairytale ending. The Justin Moore-less Villanova Wildcats came up short against the Bill Self commandeered Kansas Jayhawks in the other Final Four matchup. The Jayhawks dominated inside the paint all game and had no trouble from three-point range, led by guard Ochai Agbaji and center David McCormack. In the National Championship of the 2022 Men’s College Basketball Season, the number-one seeded and midwest region champion Kansas Jayhawks were the ones who ended up cutting down the nets, aided by the help of role players Christian Braun and Remy Martin, along with their usual stars.
The 8-seeded UNC Tar Heels came up short, led by first-year Head Coach Hubert Davis. However, this team will have a bright future with their leadership and young talent. The 2022-2023 college basketball season is sure to be a fun one.