March Madness begins, Duke gets challenged by UCF

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The highly anticipated March Madness basketball tournament began the weekend of March 21-24. The NCAA l tournament is a playoff system of 64 basketball teams and four regions. The college teams participating earned their spot on the bracket of 64 by showing promise in their regular season games. Games take place at neutral sites across the country.

All first seeds have survived the first two rounds of the playoffs. The first seeds are the Duke Blue Devils in the east region, the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the west, the Virginia Cavaliers in the south and the North Carolina Tar heels in the Midwest.

Duke is the current favorite to win the National Championship. With freshman star players Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, and Cam Reddish, they are hard to beat. All three of these players are speculated to be drafted high in the first round of the NBA draft. Williamson is projected to be the first overall pick in the draft, with a 40-inch vertical jump.

These freshmen stars are led by historically good Coach Mike Krzyzewski. With his five National Championships since he took over at Duke, he has the experience to lead the team to another NCAA title. Despite all this, Duke was very close to losing to the UCF Golden Knights on Mar 29.

No. 9 seed UCF has their own secret weapon in player Tacko Fall. At 7’6’’, Fall is one of the 40 tallest people on Earth. His ability to guard the rim with his 8’ wingspan negated Williamson from being able to dunk on him.

The underdog Golden Knights kept up with Duke the entire game, keeping it close until the very end. Without a 32-point game from UCF’s Aubrey Dawkins, they came close to taking the win.  UCF played phenomenally in this game, especially from the three-point line. However, when his team needed him the most, Williamson responded, driving in a layup with a foul, and, in the process, making Fall foul out. Williamson missed his free throw, but it was being rebounded by Barrett who made another layup. The layup put the Blue Devils up 77-76 with 11 seconds left. This would be the final score of the game because of two missed shots on the other end by UCF.

This thriller of a game ended with a Duke victory and a place in the history books of March Madness, truly bringing “madness” to March Madness.