Elite Eight

Brian Dreifke and Jacob Novicky

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It has been one of the most wild Final Fours in the history of the tournament!  It was an unpredictable result and not many people who completed March Madness brackets had the final four. Let’s recap.

In the East Regional Final, we saw a highly anticipated game between 1-seed Duke, and the 2-seed Michigan State. Duke was coming off of two very close games in which they both won against UCF and Virginia Tech on a missed basket that would tie the game. It was another close thriller for Duke, but this time they came up short and many brackets were busted.

It came down to a very close fourth quarter. Kenny Goins hit a big-time clutch 3-pointer to give Michigan State a 2-point lead. Following a foul on the Spartans, Duke player R.J. Barrett needed to make two free throws to tie the game, but he choked at the line and missed one of two. Michigan State dribbled out the clock and punched their ticket to the Final Four.  

It was an unbelievable game in the South Regional Final as 1-seed Virginia outlasted 3-seed Purdue in a thrilling overtime game 80-75. Virginia was down by 3 with 5.9 seconds. Ty Jerome was at the line; he hit the first but missed the second. The ball was tipped back behind half court with 3 seconds left. Kihei Clark passed the ball to Mamadi Diakite with 0.6 second left. He put it up and he put it in to tie the game at the buzzer. This was a heart breaker for Purdue. Carsen Edwards had the ball with 10 seconds left, down 1 point, he missed a big shot that would have given Purdue the lead. Then Purdue fouled Virginia’s Kyle Guy, made both free throws to get a 3-point lead, then Carsen Edwards passed it to his teammate and it resulted in a turnover. Virginia is heading for their first Final since 1981.

In the Midwest Region, the Cinderella story 5-seed Auburn Tigers, who beat 1-seed UNC and 4-seed KU to get to this point, put off another blue blood upset without their best player against conference foe 2-seed Kentucky in overtime 77-71. With the game tied at 60, Kentucky had multiple chances to take the lead, but Auburn had a great defensive stand leading to a block. Auburn had the ball with 10 seconds left. They pushed it past half court, Bryce Brown passed it to Horace Spencer and he had a great look for a 3-point shot but missed it as time expired. Auburn’s Bryce Brown had 24 points. In overtime, Auburn’s Jared Harper who had 6 points and great team defense led Auburn to advance. Auburn is going to the final four for the first time in program history; yes, you are reading this right: Auburn is not just a football school.

In an upset win, 3-seed Texas Tech beatthe No. 1-seed Gonzaga Bulldogs, with a score of 75-69.It was a very close score the entire game until the end when Texas Tech pulled a couple clutch shots, and sealed their ticket to the Final Four.

In the NCAA  tournament, Michigan State has been to the Final Four eight times. The other three teams, Texas Tech, Virginia, and Auburn, will be competing in the Final Four for the first time. Will experience prevail over what will be a new experience for the new teams that punched their ticket to the final four?