A Stunning Ending to March Madness and a Not-So-Surprising End to the NHS March Madness Bracket Competition

Sports Commentary and Analysis by: Tanner Ballard

Well, I was wrong.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to read my March Madness Final Four article, you can check it out here. 

For those of you who remember, or don’t really care to go back and read the article, I picked Oklahoma to win the National Championship over the University of North Carolina. I wasn’t even close.

The reason I say I wasn’t even close is really due to the sheer annihilation of Oklahoma by Villanova. Of course, I had picked the Sooners to win it all and my hopes of being correct (for once) in predicting even a Final Four was dashed by the consistency of the Villanova Wildcats.

A dominant shooting performance by the entire team led to the utter destruction of Buddy Hield and company. The Wildcats shot an absurd 71.4 percent on the night and ended with a 44 point margin of victory, the largest of any Final Four game. They were headed to the National Championship with high hopes, but little did they know just how epic the result of that game would be.

Meanwhile, back-tracking a bit, the Tar Heels really had no issues handling the Syracuse Orange in their Final Four game. A late run by Syracuse certainly gave UNC fans a scare, but the Tar Heels consistently put up an answer to the Syracuse scores. The game ended with UNC winning by 17 and punching their ticket to the National Championship in Houston.

The stage was set at NRG Stadium in Houston and the hype surrounding the game was phenomenal. Predictions were flying left and right and ultimately it seemed that the consensus was that UNC and their stars would be too much of a match for skilled yet timid Villanova Wildcats.

Needless to say, if you haven’t seen or heard how this game ended, I’m sorry.

Back and forth the score went and UNC had a five point lead at half time. The Wildcats would not be deterred as they fought their way back in the second half with solid play on both ends of the court as well as, in all honesty, poor shooting by the Tar Heels. Nova eventually took a six-point lead late in the second.

Marcus Paige and North Carolina climbed their way back in it with an unbelievably clutch circus-shot to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left. Overtime looked all but certain.

It was then that Kris Jenkins inbounded the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono, who dribbled it up the court. A pick was set an Arcidiacono tossed it to the trailing Jenkins who pulled up from at least two feet beyond the three point line.

Boom.

Arguably the greatest shot in the history of college basketball, Kris Jenkins knocked down the three at the buzzer to win the National Championship for the Villanova Wildcats.

The scenes were crazy. Nova players rushed the floor, their fans going wild. Streamers and noise of all kinds erupted in the stadium. And, of course, the stunned group of UNC players and fans in attendance, including the one and only Michael Jordan.

It was one of those games where you wanted to take the person you know who doesn’t care about sports, shove their face in front of the TV and say “How can you not love this!?”  

It was an unbelievable end to an unbelievable game and an unbelievable tournament. Surely one of the best college basketball games in the history of the game, Kris Jenkins will forever be remembered as the man who won his team the National Championship at the buzzer.

Now then, the excitement of the National Championship game was nothing compared to the culmination of the NHS March Madness Bracket Competition.

That’s pure sarcasm if you hadn’t caught on.

An unbelievable performance was put in by NHS Economics Teacher Mr. Swanson, who won the competition by an outstanding 16 points. He had a total of 40 correct picks and really dominated the whole competition. I guess we were foolish to think we stood a chance at winning a game of basically chance against an economics teacher.

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Mr. Swanson’s winning bracket. Yellow highlighter signifies correct, and blue signifies loss.

Andy Callaway and Lucas Braschler took the tie for a humble second place at 83 points. NHS AP Language and Journalism teacher Josh Johnson took third with 80 points, and yours truly claimed fourth with 70 points.

It was certainly a March Madness to remember, with fierce competition, school pride and – to top it all off – a buzzer-beater to win the National Championship. It’s now more than a week or two after the National Championship game and seeing Jenkin’s shot go in still gives me goosebumps. After all, that tournament and that ending to the National Championship is what college basketball is all about.

As for the NHS Bracket Competition, every participant put forth a valiant but vain effort in trying to stop Mr. Swanson. There’s really only one way to cap off the competition, with the words of the victorious Mr. Swanson himself solidifying the phrase “ignorance is bliss.”

“I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’ll do one,” Mr. Swanson remarked in closing.

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