The 2022 NCAA men’s basketball tournament is underway and the wins have already been exciting to watch. Each year everyone wants to see big upsets and dramatic finishes. We all want to see the underdog or Cinderella teams win.
We crave to witness David beat Goliath, which is an analogy that signifies the smaller school from the smaller conference beating the heavily favored school from one of the major conferences. This year hasn’t disappointed and it started in the first round.
The #15 seed Saint Peter’s University Peacocks beat the mighty Kentucky Wildcats in the first round of the East regional. The Peacocks, with 2,355 undergraduate students, got their first-ever NCAA tournament win Thursday when they beat the Wildcats.
Meanwhile, Kentucky has 30,546 students, has won 8 national championships, has the most wins in NCAA tournament history with 129, and had much better players. All this didn’t matter as St. Peter’s won 85-79. After this win, everyone thought for sure St. Peter’s would lose in the next round to Murray St. But the Peacocks continued their improbable Cinderella run by beating the Racers 70-60.
There were a few other smaller, less dramatic upsets in the first round. No. 12 seed New Mexico St. beat No. 5 seed University of Connecticut 70-63 in the West Region. No. 11 seed Notre Dame defeated No. 6 seed Alabama 78-64 in the West Region. No. 11 seed Michigan beat No. 6 seed Colorado State 75-63 in the South Region. In one of the last games of the 1st Round No. 10 seed, Miami beat No. 7 seed University of Southern California 68-66 in the Midwest Region.
The second round on Saturday and Sunday was much more exciting. Three of the No. 1 seeds almost lost, and the fourth No. 1 seed did lose. The No. 1 overall seed Gonzaga was down by 10 to Memphis, and head coach Penny Hardaway at halftime, before rallying to win 82-78 in the West region.
No. 1 seed Kansas also survived a scare from No. 9 seed Creighton but held on late to win 79-72 in the Midwest Region. No. 1 seed Arizona had a pretty sizable lead against No. 9 seed Texas Christian University, before having to seek out a win in overtime 85-80 in the South region.
None of these compared to the best game of the second round. This game pitted No. 1 seed Baylor against, the heavy underdog, No. 8 seed University of North Carolina in the East region. This was a matchup of two college basketball heavyweights with Baylor being the defending national champions and UNC having won six over the years. But UNC, according to most prognosticators, was a soft team against top competition and was having an off-year.
They were generally seen as having a transition year with a new head coach and a relatively young and inexperienced team. No one gave them a shot to beat Baylor. Head Coach Hubert Davis, however, had other plans. He knew all year that this team was something special, but everyone else didn’t see it until UNC played hard-nosed basketball and beat Duke in Durham during the last week of the regular season.
This was the most hyped game of the regular season in that it was Coach K’s last ever home game. He was retiring, almost 100 of his former players returned to honor him, celebrities attended and floor seats were going for as much as $80,000.
But Carolina didn’t care for any of this as they showed their toughness by winning 94-81. After losing in the ACC Tournament, then walloping Marquette 95-63 in their first NCAA tournament game, they could finally focus on Baylor.
Right from the beginning, UNC showed their resolve as they took a big early lead behind the hot shooting of guard RJ Davis. He scored eight points in an 80-second span in the first half to put the Heels up to stay. UNC led 42-29 at halftime.
They then led by 25 with 10 minutes left in the second half after Forward Brady Manek hit back-to-back 3-pointers. This is when the fun started. Immediately after on-fire Manek hit that second 3, he was charged a Flagrant-2 and ejected from the game after hitting Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan in the face with his elbow. After the game, it was determined that it wasn’t serious enough to be called a Flagrant-2, but the call was irreversible during the game. After this huge blow to UNC, they collapsed.
Baylor stars Adam Flagler, James Akinjo, and Sochan took over, and the referees started making terrible calls. Baylor completed the biggest comeback ever in the NCAA tournament by tying the game 80-80 at the end of regulation with a driving layup and made foul shot by Akinjo. Most analysts still didn’t believe Carolina could win after Baylor stole back the momentum that UNC once had.
But UNC summoned all their fight and courage for one last push in overtime. Being without two starters gave Freshman guard Dontrez Styles from UNC the opportunity to make an incredible 3 at the beginning of OT. Then Davis made a circus-style layup leading to Carolina closing Baylor out as Armando Bacot iced it by making the last free throws.
Baylor only made one bucket in OT as Carolina won an emotional game 93-86.
The games will begin again Thursday with the remaining 16 teams poised to make a title run. The emotion will be higher and the passion will go deeper. But only four teams will remain after this weekend. It’s gonna be great!
Article by: Chris Steele, iHearts143Quotes Team member