Baylor defeats Gonzaga in NCAA tournament

The Baylor Bears defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs with a score of 86-70 in the Men’s NCAA March Madness basketball championship, ending their undefeated season. The final was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 5. 

Since March Madness was cancelled last year due to COVID-19, fans were glad to have it return this year.

“Because it was cancelled, we forget how much sports is a part of our lives,” Daniel Vaz, ESE teacher and March Madness fan, said. “And it is a great distraction from all the nonsense going on in today’s world. It is one of the few times where people from all walks of life can come together.”

Fans like Vaz, from all over, gathered to watch their favorite teams compete in the tournament, which spanned from March 18 to April 5.

“This March Madness was made significant by last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19,” Sherman Steele, ESE teacher and basketball coach, said. “Players were allowed to live out dreams of playing in the tournament. It also provided entertainment and maybe some hope during the pandemic.”

Steele felt it was important March Madness returned this year, as basketball fans needed something to distract them from the current pandemic.

“This year was crazy like every March. It’s great to have it back, but it’s not the same with the COVID-19 restrictions in place,” Grant Oliver, Jupiter High basketball player, said.

Oliver says teams must work together and have confidence in each other in order to win the whole tournament, and have to minimize mistakes to defeat their opponents.

“A team must have unity, perseverance, talent and usually a good draw,” Steele said. “Unity keeps the team together when things are and are not going well. Perseverance is how that unity is shown. You can’t win without talent. Who teams play and when they play them is sometimes the most important part of winning the championship.”

Steele’s favorite part of March Madness was the unpredictability of the games. According to him, teams win by figuring out how to exploit each other’s weaknesses.

“I most enjoy the passion that the coaches, players and fans show,” Vaz said. “March Madness gives multiple teams a shot where players and coaches can make names for themselves.”

This was the case for this year especially because players were finally given the opportunity to showcase their skills after not being able to last year.

“What sets March Madness aside from other sporting events is that each team has the same chance to make the tournament and anyone can win all,” Steele said. “Also, the big school versus little school battle is often played out, which leads to the upsets.”

For instance, Oral Roberts, a 15 seed, defeated Ohio State, a two seed. Steele believes this was the biggest upset of the tournament, since almost nobody saw it coming.

“Baylor played superior defense and were able to disrupt Gonzaga’s ‘unstoppable offense.’ Their three point shooting and balanced scoring also helped them. There is no doubt Baylor deserved to win,” Oliver said.

After a difficult path to the championship, Baylor was able to defeat Gonzaga, overcoming their final obstacle to victory.

“I am just grateful that we had a tournament to watch,” Vaz said. “Overall it was a really exciting tournament with plenty of surprises. And the two best teams all year played for the title, which was fun to watch.”