Winners and losers of the NCAA Tournament Games

Who shone the most in the final round of March Madness? Who failed? Let’s dive into a special edition of Winners and Losers.

Winner: The Unruly Okon Dynasty

There were no players hitting the buzzer, no comebacks, and there was really no moment when it looked like UConn could lose any of the six games they played in this NCAA Tournament. They only trailed in the second half of a game once, and by about 40 seconds in the entire tournament; Their average margin of victory was 20 points. The shining moment for the Huskies family had a solid month of taking the life out of their opponents. I think the most exciting game in their title game victory over San Diego State was… that blown dunk? This is how you know you’re the protagonist – even your mistakes are more interesting than anyone else’s:

The Huskies went up by double digits over SDSU after just 12 minutes into game time and they held that status all night. Their defense was so good, they hit the offensive boards as usual, and hit 89 percent of their free throws. There was a brief moment of drama when San Diego State cut the deficit to five points in the second half—I almost thought the Aztecs would cover the seven-point lead—but this was UConn’s championship, and it’s clearly been UConn’s championship to win most of the past two weeks.

And this year they had 4 offspring. They were dominant in November, dominated in December, went 3-5 in January, and dominated again in February, March, and April. That January moment convinced people, particularly the NCAA selection committee, that they weren’t the best team in the sport. We shouldn’t pay too much attention to fake shots.

UConn has now won five championships in the past 25 years; Nobody has more than three. They have won titles with three coaches. They switched from the Big East to the American Athletic Conference and back to the new Big East, in large part because none of the major leagues were interested in competing with the Albatross, their football program. There is no rhyme or reason connecting UConn’s basketball titles: 1999, 2004, 2011, 2014, 2023, like the handiwork of a drunken darts player. They’ve missed eight of the 23 NCAA tournaments since their first title: about 33 percent of the time, they’re not among the top 68 teams, and about 20 percent of the time, they’re better a team.

College basketball is a random sport, so it’s only fitting that it ends with a single-elimination tournament played primarily by teens. Thus, the greatest college basketball program should not be the one that wins every year. Perpetual dominance is boring – if you don’t believe me, rewatch UConn games from this year’s tournament. UConn understands the spirit of a sport that values ​​short-term brilliance over everything. UConn is the uncle who goes off the grid for years at a time and then shows up on the best Thanksgiving ever; In a sports culture that worships dynasties, they’re on Grover Cleveland’s plan. Every few years, these outsiders appear out of nowhere to be the best team in the sport.

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Of course, UConn can do it again next year. Only one of the starting players from this championship team, Tristen Newton, is a senior; Only one, sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins, is expected to be a first-round pick ringerNBA draft guide. The team’s best player, Adama Sanogo, should be back again. I need UConn to realize they can’t repeat. Go 13-18 and miss the NCAA tournament entirely, fire Dan Hurley, rejoin the Horizon League, and come back to win the 2027 championship. We all salute the Huskies, March Kings.

Loser: Whatever SDSU did on offense

I’ll start by being gentle: I picked San Diego State for the Final Four! They are unbelievable in defense! As a fan of middle hoops, I’ve been tugging at them throughout their unlikely run to the National Championship game. The last four whistles to beat Florida Atlantic will go down in the history of March Madness, and the Aztecs should be proud.

But there is one big problem with SDSU as a basketball team: They are not very good at shooting basketball through basketball hoops. At one point in the national title game, they have lost 14 straight shots, the most consecutive loss of any team in any game in the entire tournament. They shot a 32.2 percent on loss, and some of the credit definitely goes to the UConn team whose interior defense has supported them throughout their championship career. But the Aztecs have scored worse than 40 percent in three of the six tournament games, and Monday night’s 32.2 percent wasn’t even their worst shooting performance in the past month: They shot 20-for-63 (31.7 percent) at the mountain. Western championship game against Utah State.

I was rooting for SDSU – and Oh, my God, it was hard. There’s nothing more draining than getting your hopes up every time a bullet goes through the air and you watch it blast away.

Winner: Jasmine Carson

The numbers indicate that the hot hand is not real, and that the imaging line concept is merely random over small sample sizes. But the numbers never matched Jasmine Carson, whose stinging hand LSU won the national title on Sunday.

Carson is a fifth-year freshman who lost her shooting touch in the final month of her college career. After moving from Georgia Tech to West Virginia and from West Virginia to LSU, she finally found a starting role with the Lady Tigers. It was the most consistent of the shooters – arguably Just Consistent shooter – culminating when she hit seven three-and-outs in a game against Florida. Then the consistency faded: I went 0-for-6-of-3 in the regular season finale against Mississippi State, missed every shot I took in the SEC tournament, and started in the NCAAs by going 0-for-4-of-3 in a first-round win over Hawaii. Kim Mulkey sat her down, and it sounded like a smart call, as Carson was held scoreless in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four.

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But LSU needed pitchers against Iowa. For the second game in a row, Iowa bet that its opponents could not or would not attempt three-pointers. The strategy worked against South Carolina, and LSU was three points more alienated than South Carolina, It ranked 350th out of 363 Division I teams in 3-index ending possession rate. The Tigers needed someone to hit the shots. Before the game, this LSU media member speculated it might be Carson — go catch up with him if you need lottery ticket numbers:

Like Donte DiVincenzo but with cooler hair, Carson played the best game of her life in the biggest game of her life. Carson shot 5-for-5 in the first half, helping LSU build 17 first-half points that they wouldn’t give up. You can see the confidence and vitality returning to her after one of the coldest firing streaks of her life banishes her to the bench; That energy flowed through her and her teammates. The last thing I made was a whistling beater at the end of the second quarter, which led to the fact that anything you vomited would have gone:

LSU hit a combined seven 3s in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and Final Four. They went 11-for-17 in the title game. The Hawkeyes gambled that LSU couldn’t shoot; Carson made them pay.

Winner: Taunt

Newton’s Third Law of Taunting goes like this: For every athlete who adopts a characteristic sneer, there is another athlete who will throw an equal and opposite sneer in the face. It’s been proven time and time again: when players sacked Aaron Rodgers and held a “championship belt” celebration or when LeBron James cracked during a performance by DeShawn Stevenson “I can’t feel my face” gag. It’s especially useful when the creator of the signature mockery loses the biggest game of his life, like when Antoine Winfield Jr. won the Super Bowl with the Bucs and Tyreek Hill hit a “tie”. But even before Newton could prove the “laws of irony,” philosophers assumed they existed. As Aristotle once said: Shit talk, whack.

Mocking Caitlin Clark on Sunday. Over the course of Crazy’s career, the Iowa garrison has broken the record for most points in the NCAA Tournament, most assists in the NCAA Women’s Tournament, most 3s in the NCAA Tournament, most taunts in the NCAA Tournament, and most hits to unfortunate opponents. John Cena’s “You Can’t See Me” move. And after LSU beat the Hawkeyes in the national title game, LSU’s All-American Angel Reese hit Clark with her own quip:

What has made Caitlin Clark so interesting to watch throughout the season is that everything she does requires a higher level of confidence: she has to be truly Check yourself when shooting from the logo, because nothing looks dumber than 40 feet away. Same goes for her idle talk: It’s exciting when she talks the talk and walks the rally because we know the stakes if you can’t back it up.

Reese and the Tigers turned on her. We watch sports for moments like this, when a player’s confidence backfires or backfires. Some people were annoyed by Reese’s gesture. These people either don’t understand what makes sports fun or, more likely, are just trying to get your attention, but either way, they should probably be ignored. LSU did what no one else could and outlasted the best shooter in the nation; Clark’s celebration is now their celebration.

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Loser: Women Referees

Fans of every sport seem to think they have the worst referees. NFL fans have laundry lists of unintelligible taunts and rough calls; Baseball fans are trying to replace robots with their machines. NBA players happily eat tens of thousands of dollars in fines for complaining about certain referees; College sports fans have opinions about which conferences have the worst referees; Football fans, hockey fans, etc. enjoy the same things. It’s bad referees all the way.

All of these people need to watch women’s college basketball, where officials are eager to take over the games And Forcing players to stick to their personal opinions about how players should act on the field. Both were on display Sunday, with the officials shooting 37 fouls – it didn’t feel like a particularly physical game, just 40 minutes of bad calls followed by bad calls on the other team to keep things even.

Both teams were affected. LSU’s Angel Reese and Cateri Paul each committed two first quarter fouls. All-American Reese only played 29 minutes, essentially the only game that didn’t blow out all season in which she played very little. Iowa had the second and third place finishers, Monica Czenano and Mckenna Warnock, respectively, both fouls. Czinano was especially important to Iowa in the paint and represented Iowa’s only hope against strong LSU players; Chinano reserve Addison O’Grady played a season-high 18 minutes.

There were a lot of freaky calls, but none worse than when Caitlin Clarke received a technique… tossing the ball lightly behind her back when no official was present:

By rule, failure to immediately return the ball to the umpire after a warning was; In fact, it gave the game’s hottest player a fourth game-delaying foul that didn’t actually delay a game at all. (Play was stopped while everyone else was waiting for LSU to shoot a free throw.) Clarke spent the last quarter of the game off steal attempts, knowing she couldn’t risk being disqualified.

Running hoops at a women’s college is a joke — literally, the vice president of NCAA women’s basketball They joked about how bad the referee was days before the title match. Former President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association for Men’s Basketball Tell the athlete Monday that “nowhere is ever fully responsible, But, man, that was awful. “I don’t think anything would have changed the outcome of the match, but it was fun to see the players we watched on the field rather than on the bench.

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