Biggest winners and losers of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament 2019 | Bleach report



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    Kyle Guy of Virginia

    Kyle Guy of VirginiaDavid J. Phillip / Associated Press

    The Virginia Cavaliers defeated the Texas Tech Red Raiders 85-77 in overtime on Monday night in Minneapolis to secure the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship 2019, but more than one winner and one loser emerged from this glorious tournament.

    Perhaps the biggest losers of the last three weeks were all the troglodytes who hate the defense on social networks and said that the national championship would be boringly hopelessly boring. Apart from the all-time instant between Villanova and North Carolina in 2016, this was easily the most entertaining title game in at least a decade.

    The opening weekend lacked its usual supply of a drama that hits the bell, but the last game It was a cornerstone for an incredible finish of four rounds of the tournament.

    There were phenomenal individual performances by people like Ja Morant and Carsen Edwards, as well as much less impressive displays of the No. 8 seeds, the Big East and all-season favorites to win it all. Some coaches were great winners; others fell into the opposite category.

    Keep reading for the rest of the biggest winners and losers of the NCAA 2019 tournament.

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    Ja morant

    Ja morantElise Amendola / Associated Press

    Not many players were better than Ja Morant during the 2018-19 season.

    Zion Williamson was. Maybe I could make a case for Cbadius Winston and / or RJ Barrett. That is all, however. The magical man of Murray State was much more than a hero of a minor conference. He averaged 24.5 points, 10.0 badists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals and shot up to a selection of the top three in the next NBA draft.

    But unless you live in Kentucky or pay $ 5 per month for an ESPN + subscription, you'll hardly have to see Morant. Before the OVC tournament, the Racers only played four games televised nationally and "nationally" is probably not the right word since two of those four contests were on the SEC Network. He even injured his ankle two minutes after Belmont's game on ESPNU.

    People had no doubt heard of Morant and probably saw more than a handful of their ridiculous athletic demonstrations at House of Highlights or Twitter, but the NCAA tournament was the first time many people saw most of the Murray State games .

    To put it lightly, Morant lived up to the exaggerations.

    In the first game against Marquette, he recorded the ninth triple official double in the history of the NCAA men's tournaments.Your third of the seasonFinishing with 17 points, 16 badists and 11 rebounds. It was supposed to be an incredible battle between Morant and Markus Howard, but Howard's 26 points were completely eclipsed by what Morant did by taking Murray State to an 83-64 victory.

    Even in the loss to Florida State in the second round, Morant was impressive from the start and finished with 28 points. Murray State simply had no answer for the height, depth and athleticism of FSU.

    Morant had already demonstrated at the start of the season against Auburn (25 points, eight rebounds, seven badists) and Alabama (38 points, nine rebounds, five badists) that he could put numbers against real competition. This was just one more proof that the runner-up in the Zion Draw is still going to stand out.

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    Mick Cronin

    Mick CroninImages of Elsa / Getty

    Only six programs have participated in each of the last nine NCAA tournaments: Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, Gonzaga and Cincinnati. The credit owed to head coach Mick Cronin for making the Bearcats return to the state they enjoyed was under Bob Huggins: an annual staple in the Big Dance.

    Excluding the NCAA tournament games, Cincinnati has 229-70 that goes back to the start of the 2010-11 season. That's a winning percentage of .766, and it's better than what the State of Michigan (225-77) has achieved during the same period.

    But Tom Izzo has led the Spartans to five Sweet 16s and a pair of Final Fours. Cronin has a not-so-good record of 6-9 in the tournament with the Bearcats and has not been in Sweet 16 since 2012.

    Most of those years, they had a valid excuse to not get very far. In 2011, Cincinnati met Kemba Walker in the second round. In 2013, 2015 and 2016, he was a No. 10, No. 8 and No. 9 seed, respectively, and was not expected to win multiple games. In fact, last year was the only time the Bearcats had a seed that supposedly came to Sweet 16, and they were victims of one of Nevada's incredible victories.

    The immediate exit this year has raised doubts about whether the style of Cronin is built for Marchespecially now that people can no longer ask themselves that about Tony Bennett in Virginia.

    Playing what might have been a home game in Columbus, Ohio, Cincinnati's excellent defense usually gave up 79 points in a loss to Iowa. That's tied for the fourth points the Bearcats have allowed in any game in the last three seasons. The Hawkeyes shot 11 of 22 from the three-point range.

    However, the real problem.As it has been for most of the past decade.It was the Cincinnati offense. He scored at will in the early draw against the terrible Iowa defense, then, inexplicably, fell in love with the deep ball, missed most of those shots and lost the game. That lack of discipline at both ends of the floor falls on Cronin.

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    Fletcher Magee

    Fletcher MageeMitchell Layton / Getty Images

    The way Wofford retired from the tournament was hard to see. Fletcher Magee set the NCAA record for the three-point race in the first round victory over Seton Hall, but the sniper could not find his mark against Kentucky and missed all 12 attempts. The excellent job of the Wildcats is to follow him as much as possible and make each shot difficult, but that's bad luck for a player who made at least four 3-pointers in 15 of his previous 16 games.

    However, Wofford remains one of the biggest winners of the NCAA tournament of 2019, because these little Terriers showed that they belonged to the court with the big dogs.

    They jumped to an early lead of 34-18 over Seton Hall, watched the Pirates grab all the way back to take the lead with less than eight minutes to go and then mercilessly buried Myles Powell and Co. with a run of 17-0. Most of the disgruntled minor conference teams would have collapsed after the Big East team's big recovery, but the Terriers basically did not miss a single shot in the last seven minutes.

    Then hanging out with Kentucky despite the aforementioned day of Magee was perhaps even more impressive.

    Sure, the Wildcats did not have PJ Washington, but they still had five McDonald's All-Americans.-Reid Travis, Nick Richards, EJ Montgomery, Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickleyand a couple of excellent first-year guards at Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans. With so much talent, they should have destroyed a small school whose star player could not buy a bucket.

    They did not, and they showed that the rankings of KenPom (No. 18) and NET (No. 13) were in the mark with the Terriers. This was a top 20 team that probably would have made it to Sweet 16 if the selection committee had properly planted it.

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    Breein Tyree and Kermit Davis

    Breein Tyree and Kermit DavisSean Rayford / Associated Press

    Speaking on behalf of all those who venture into bracketology, it is almost impossible to separate seeds No. 8 from seeds No. 9.

    My current position in the Bracket Matrix clbadifications is embarrbading, and it's largely because I end up throwing darts at Seeds No. 8-10 and constantly miss them by at least one line. This year, I had Oklahoma and UCF projected as No. 8 seeds and Syracuse, Ole Miss and Utah State as No. 9 seeds. The committee had the opposite.

    But the No. 8 were 0-4 in the first round for the first time since 2001, so he can decide who was wrong in planting.

    Not only seeds No. 9 got the sweep, but they also cleaned the floor with the "favorites".

    I was in Columbia for the UCF-VCU and Oklahoma-Ole Miss games, and they were not competitive or entertaining. Oklahoma jumped to a 12-0 lead and never looked back. VCU simply did not have an answer for Tacko Fall (13 points, 18 rebounds, five blocks).

    At least Washington-Utah State and Baylor-Syracuse were contests closed in the middle of the second semester. However, the Huskies destroyed the Aggies in the last 10 minutes, and the Bears gradually moved away from the Orange.

    The average margin of victory ended up being 16 points.

    Aside from the heartbreaking UCF loss to Duke, none of those No. 9 seeds fought hard in the second round. Either a No. 8 or a No. 9 had reached Sweet 16 in five of the previous six tournaments, but that was not the case this year. Even so, seeds No. 8 were the big losers.

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    Payton Pritchard and Kenny Wooten

    Payton Pritchard and Kenny WootenMichael Conroy / Associated Press

    For most of the regular season, we lament the atrocity known as the Pac-12. When we published the article "Worst Major Conference" in early January, the Pac-12 had a KenPom rating of 7.47. Coincidentally, that's where the season also ended, well behind the other five power conferences and almost a full point behind the AAC. Therefore, we can now confirm that it was the worst season of a major conference in at least 18 years.

    And yet, three Pac-12 teams earned a place in the NCAA tournament and splashed more than anyone expected.

    Arizona State snuck into the field as the last team as a whole and defeated St. John's in the First Four. Washington entered as a No. 9 seed and smoked in the state of Utah in the first round.

    However, the big winner was the one who deserved least to be there.

    Even after finishing the regular season with a streak of four consecutive wins, Oregon had to win the conference tournament to enter the Big Dance. He did just that, surviving an overtime battle with Arizona State in the semifinals and defeating Washington in the championship game to win a No. 12 seed.

    At that time, the Ducks were red-hot and playing an incredible defense led by Kenny Wooten (blocks) and Ehab Amin (steals). They closed Wisconsin's No. 5 for a 72-54 victory in the first round and then beat UC Irvine with an almost identical score of 73-54 in the second round.

    They were the only team planted below No. 5 to reach the Sweet 16, and they came to play. Oregon gave Virginia everything she could handle in a 53-49 nail biter, almost ruining the Elite Eight in Nike crystal slippers.

    Head coach Dana Altman now has a 13-6 record in the NCAA tournament for the past seven seasons, and the Ducks should be a factor again in 2020 if Louis King stays for the second season.

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    Max Hazzard

    Max HazzardChris Carlson / Associated Press

    A year ago, the first two rounds of the tournament were beautiful chaos. In addition to the amazing UMBC Virginia, we finished with two seeds No. 7, two seeds No. 9 and two seeds No. 11 in Sweet 16. Summarize the seeds of the 16 teams and the total number was 85-The highest note since 2000.

    But if he completed his group this year expecting similar results, he was very disappointed.

    Sweet 16's total seed this year was 49, tied for the 2009 tournament by the lowest number in NCAA history. Oregon (No. 12) was the only team worse than a No. 5 seed that made it to the second weekend, and the Ducks do not even remotely qualify as a Cinderella story.

    (Interestingly, the 2009 tournament had exactly the same sweet 16 seed planting: all seeds No. 1-3, two seeds No. 4, one seed No. 5 and one seed No. 12. And even that year is the No. 12 seed, Arizona, came from the same conference this year.)

    However, at least a couple of short Cinderella stories appeared.

    Seeds No. 12, Liberty and Murray State, achieved first-round upsets, as did No. 13 UC Irvine. And although the Racers were destroyed by the state of Florida in the second round, both the Flames and the Anteaters played well for the first 25 minutes before getting rid of their main enemies in the conference.

    Even Wofford and Buffalo were a kind of Cinderella stories, though from a better starting position. They beat Seton Hall and Arizona State, respectively, in the first round, and Wofford almost managed to overtake Kentucky as well.

    However, it was unfortunate not to have a Loyola-Chicago, a Florida Gulf Coast or a George Mason to join behind. If UC Irvine had beaten Oregon in the second round, it would have been Sweet 16's ideal formula of 15 great teams and a little known joker that the rest of the country wants to see win.

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    Mamadi diakita

    Mamadi diakitaKevin C. Cox / Getty Images

    The lack of early surprises made the first two rounds feel boring for many fans, but the reward was worth it because the Elite Eight games were excellent for the theater.

    The less entertaining regional final was probably the first between Gonzaga and Texas Tech, and that's a tough description for a round-trip issue in which none of the teams led by more than five points until the final two minutes. The three projected first-round draft picks (Jarrett Culver, Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke) scored at least 18 points. The elite defense of Texas Tech narrowly won the war against Gonzaga's elite offense, thanks in large part to a pair of triple by Davide Moretti.

    The next thing on the entertainment ladder was the SEC's overtime showdown between Auburn and Kentucky. The Wildcats built an early double-digit lead, but a four-point play at the end of the first half and a five-point possession shortly after the interval triggered a Tigers rally. None of the teams was able to buy a three-point bucket for most of the afternoon, but Auburn prevailed in some way.

    Then there's Virginia vs. Purdue, also known as "The Carsen Edwards Show". The Purdue star finished with 42 points, but Kyle Guy and Mamadi Diakite took the last laugh. After fighting for the first 3.5 games, Guy caught fire in the second half and exchanged hay with Edwards. And it was Diakite who hit the shot of the tournament, forcing overtime on the bell after Kihei Clark chased a free kick he could not make.

    But the best game was Michigan State vs. Duke The mbadive changes in the first half were followed by a tense second half of round-trip rebounds. The game included acrobatic moves on both sides, a winning cube of the game from an unlikely source (Kenny Goins) and a great discomfort that broke most of the parentheses that are not yet in ruins. It was everything you could want from an Elite Eight gameUnless you're a Duke fan, of course.

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    Markus Howard and Quincy McKnight

    Markus Howard and Quincy McKnightJulio Cortez / Associated Press

    Everyone expected the Pac-12 to be the disappointing conference in the NCAA tournament, but the Great East was the biggest disaster-And there was not even a finalist nearby.

    Only four Big East teams made the tournament, which was a disappointment even before it started. And he can make a solid case, only three squads deserve to dance, considering that St. John's was the last general team invited.

    However, the Johnnies did not last long, losing an awful brick festival full of sales against the State of Arizona in the First Four. They stayed behind 33-15 in the first half and never had many opportunities to fight all the way back.

    At first, the story was similar for Seton Hall, who dragged Wofford 34-18 about 15 minutes after the first-round matchup. The Pirates again took the lead temporarily, but they cooled down as the Terriers burned down in the last seven minutes and ended up losing by 16.

    Marquette also suffered an explosion, but her loss was much more shameful. Seton Hall was a No. 10 seed and he was supposed to lose. Marquette was a No. 5 seed and was beaten by No. 12 Murray State. One of the best three-point shooting teams during the regular season, the Golden Eagles went 8-for-31 from the depths and ran out of the gym in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

    Villanova was the only Big East team to win a game, but even the reigning national champions had a disappointing performance. The Wildcats barely survived Saint Mary's in the first game, then were defeated by Purdue in the second round.

    In all, the league produced a record of 1-4. He defeated a No. 11 seed by four points and lost the other four games by a combined margin of 70. Yikes.

    For what it's worth, the Great East also pooed in bed at the NIT. Five teams went to the "consolation" tournament, and went 3-5 without a single victory over an enemy of the main conference. It was a difficult year for what used to be the best conference in college basketball.

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    Carsen Edwards

    Carsen EdwardsTimothy D. Easley / Associated Press

    Apart from Ja Morant, Carsen Edwards could have been the biggest winner of the entire 2018-19 season.

    Edwards was excellent as a sophomore last year, but he was overshadowed in an otherwise full lineup of seniors. KenPom knew that Edwards was a stallion, qualifying him as the ninth best player in the country, but Dakota Mathias, Vincent Edwards and Isaac Haas were the most familiar names that also played quite well for one of the best teams in the nation.

    This year, Purdue entered the season with the appearance of "Edwards and the question marks". We knew Ryan Cline could shoot, and we knew that Matt Haarms could stand straight and pull his hair. Apart from that, the Boilermakers figured it was Edwards or a bust.

    He thrived as one of the most used players in the history of major conferences.

    According to KenPom, Edwards took 37.5 percent of Purdue's shots while on the floor, good for the sixth highest rate in the nation. But those places are usually reserved for minor conference heroes like Chris Clemons and Mike Daum. Since the start of the 2006-07 season, the only major players in the conference with the highest rate were Terrell Stoglin of Maryland (37.8) in 2011-12 and Doug McDermott of Creighton (38.6) in 2013-14.

    During the tournament, Edwards converted those shots at a remarkable pace. He shot 28 of 61 (45.9 percent) from a three point range and averaged 34.8 points, scoring 42 against Virginia and Villanova. At that rate, he would have finished with approximately 209 points and destroyed the record of 184 Glen Rice tournaments in a single tournament. Purdue had reached the national championship game.

    In four games, Edwards (139 points) almost finished with more points than Kemba Walker (141 points) had more than six games in 2011. He finished well ahead of what Stephen Curry (128 points) produced while driving Davidson to the Elite Eight 2008

    Prior to the tournament, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic had cast Edwards as the 44th pick in the NBA draft of 2019. In his pre-Final Four update, Edwards jumped to No. 25. We'll have to wait and see if he declares for the draft, but you may have earned a few million dollars with this race.

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    Luguentz Dort

    Luguentz DortJohn Locher / Associated Press

    Each year since the field expanded to 68 teams for the 2011 NCAA tournament, one (and only one) of the "gaming" teams in general had won one game in the 64th round. In four of those eight years2011 VCU, 2013 La Salle, 2014 Tennessee, 2018 Syracuse-He said The game team even came to the Sweet 16. And who can forget that VCU will go from First Four to Final Four in the inaugural year of this new era?

    It has been one of the biggest idiosyncrasies of the tournament in recent seasons: a team that could be said not to be on the field every year wins a match against a team of the best 24. It is an immediate reminder: everything is possible in this glorious giant of single elimination.

    But the streak ended this year.

    Arizona State beat St. John & # 39; s, and Belmont defeated Temple in Dayton to enter the first round. But that was, evidently, all that the Devils of the Sun had left in their tank. They lost Buffalo up 25 points in the second half before succumbing with a 91-74 loss.

    Belmont put up a much tougher fight against Maryland and really should have won that game. The Bruins led by a dozen in the first half and were ahead in most of the proceedings. They had the ball with the chance to win in the last seconds, but a rotation cost them the surprise.

    However, this was probably an anomaly rather than a change in what can be expected to move forward.

    A seismic gap separated the 28 main teams (ie No. 7 or better seeds) and the rest of the field, and then there was another drop from the No. 10 seeds to the bubble. Usually No. 6 seeds are not that Much better than seeds No. 11, but they were this year.

    Who knows? Perhaps the two teams in general of the First Four reach the second round of next season.

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    Bryce brown

    Bryce brownCharlie Riedel / Associated Press

    The ending was painful, but it was an incredible race for Auburn to reach the Final Four for the first time in the program's history.

    That search almost never started because the Tigers were pushed to the limit in the first round against the State of New Mexico. In the last 65 seconds of that game, Auburn committed three turnovers, missed two free throws, possibly committed the dumbest foul of the entire tournament and failed to secure what would have been the rebounding game. The guys from Bruce Pearl seemed like they did not even belong to the First Four, let alone the Four Finalists, but somehow they won by one and advanced.

    After that initial shock, the Tigers began to dominate.

    They jumped all over Kansas from the start, leading by 26 at halftime. Propelled by Bryce Brown and Chuma Okeke, their approach to trios and robberies was successful. Although it was a disappointing season for the Jayhawks because of their high standards, that first half is when they began to feel that the Tigers were destined to reach the Final Four.

    In the subsequent 17-point victory over North Carolina, Auburn felt unable to lose. Eight different tigers combined for 17 triples. Even more impressive was its ability to hang with the Tar Heels in the glbad. UNC had destroyed its first two opponents in that department and was one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, but the Tigers made sure that did not end their season.

    The story was similar in Elite Eight's victory over Kentucky. Despite the loss of Okeke, the main rebounder of the team, against an ACL torn in the UNC game, Auburn maintained its own margin of rebound against a team with a penchant for destroying opponents on the boards. The Tigers did not even shoot well (7-of-23 from the depth) in overtime victory, but they had 10 steals and seven blocks to defeat Okeke.

    It was an appropriate result for March 31, because the Tigers were the owners of the month. They went 11-0 with a pair of wins over Tennessee and that ridiculous stretch of consecutive victories against the three most winning programs in NCAA history.

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    Mfiondu Kabengele and Rui Hachimura

    Mfiondu Kabengele and Rui HachimuraJae C. Hong / Associated Press

    Three of the four regions presented a good dose of drama in the last games.

    In the east, Duke played three games decided on the bell. Maryland and LSU barely survived the first round, and the Tigers defeated the Terrapins on a Tremont Waters plate with less than two seconds remaining. In addition, Liberty slightly upset the state of Mississippi.

    That's seven of the 15 games decided by five points or less. The madness of March at its best.

    Things were not so hectic in the Midwest, but that first game between Auburn and the state of New Mexico had more than enough last-minute calamity. The state of Iowa and the state of Ohio also made it to the end, and Kentucky had two wins and one loss for overtime.

    Speaking of overtime, the South had three games of this type: Tennessee over Iowa, Purdue over Tennessee and Virginia over Purdue. The battle of Sweet 16 between Virginia and Oregon was close, as was the initial victory of Villanova over Saint Mary & # 39; s. Even the games of Virginia vs. Gardner-Webb and Tennessee vs. Colgate were interesting for longer than anyone expected.

    And then there is the west.

    The regional final between Gonzaga and Texas Tech was excellent, but we had to endure a ton of blowouts to get to that point. Only three of the eight first-round games were decided by a margin of less than 15 points, the closest of which was the 76-69 victory of the state of Florida over Vermont. Between the second round and the Sweet 16, the six games had a final margin of at least a dozen points.

    Frankly, the only entertaining contest in the first three rounds of the West was Murray State's 83-64 win over Marquette, and only because we were chased by Ja Morant for a triple double.

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    Cbadius Winston and Xavier Tillman

    Cbadius Winston and Xavier TillmanRob Carr / Getty Images

    Was there a dynamic duo in this year's dance better than Cbadius Winston and Xavier Tillman of Michigan State?

    Correct answer: No, none was.

    If before the start of the tournament, you had to choose only a two-headed force to push your team to the Final Four, the obvious choices would have been Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett of Duke, Rui Hachimura of Gonzaga and Brandon Clarke or Grant of Tennessee . Williams and Admiral Schofield. In contrast, none of those teams succeeded, while Winston and Tillman were directly responsible for the elimination of the Blue Demons.

    We already knew that Winston was special. The man is a three-point shooter of 43 percent in his career who has also been ranked in the top three in the nation in terms of badistance in each of the last three seasons. He became a much more badertive driver this year and has become one of the most unsuspecting players in the nation. although he is 6 & # 39; 1 "and often seems to be" running "through the molbades.If he returns for his senior year, Michigan State would be his favorite to win the 2020 national championship.

    However, the question remained during the last month of the regular season: Who else would rise up to the moment for the state of Michigan?

    Joshua Langford was a great second violin until his end-of-season injury in late December. Nick Ward was also a critical contributor until he broke his hand in mid-February. He never came close to recovering his form.

    In the absence of these junior leaders, a sophomore rose from the ashes.

    Once placed in the starting line-up at the end of February, Tillman became a force of nature on both ends of the floor. Buckets, bounces, blocks, post-up defense. Whatever he provided. He averaged 15.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in the first four Michigan State tournament games, and it was his defense at Williamson (and his 19 points) in the Elite Eight that propelled the Spartans to their eighth Final Four in 21 years.

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    Admiral Schofield

    Admiral SchofieldTimothy D. Easley / Associated Press

    For the three Tennessee games, the first 20 minutes did not seem to matter.

    The Volunteers led 36-20 at the end of the first half during their first game against Colgate, but the Raiders returned to take a 52-50 lead midway through the second half. Tennessee returned to the track when Admiral Schofield scored 11 of his last 14 points in the final 4:05, but that game went from an explosion to a close in the blink of an eye.

    Two days later, Tennessee led Iowa 49-28 at halftime and looked set for an easy victory. But a Volunteer offense that had 20 points in just over five minutes of play cooled down and scored just 16 points in the first 17 minutes of the second half. Iowa was able to fight all the way back to force extra time before Tennessee prevailed over the skin of its teeth.

    Since a big lead did not do Tennessee much good in the first two rounds, he reversed the script and followed Purdue 40-28 at halftime of the Sweet 16 showdown. The Boilermakers pushed that lead to 51-33 at the start of the game. the second half, but the Vols caught fire and tied it to 65 minutes less than 10 minutes later.

    Tennessee hubiera ganado el juego en regla si no hubiera cometido una falta a Carsen Edwards en un intento de tres puntos con dos segundos restantes. (Más sobre eso en breve.) Purdue fue capaz de lograr el malestar menor en el tiempo extra.

    Al final, el equipo que lideró con dos dígitos al medio tiempo consiguió la victoria en los tres juegos, pero el proceso no fue tan simple como debería haber sido. Tennessee desperdició una ventaja de 16 puntos y una ventaja de 25 puntos en las primeras dos rondas y borró un déficit de 18 puntos en la tercera.

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    Chris Beard

    Chris BeardMarcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

    Texas Tech obtuvo solo una victoria al asegurar el campeonato nacional, pero no deje que ese desgarrador final lo distraiga del increíble trabajo que el entrenador en jefe, Chris Beard, ha hecho con este programa durante los últimos años.

    Antes del récord de 27-10 de la temporada pasada, había pasado más de una década desde que Texas Tech ganó por última vez 20 juegos en una campaña. Los Red Raiders perdieron a la mayoría de los líderes del equipo que alcanzó el Elite Eight del año pasado, pero de alguna manera mejoraron, quedándose 31-7 este año.

    En la era de las superestrellas de una y otra vez, Beard and Co. lo hizo con una fórmula muy diferente, con mentalidad defensiva.

    La mitad de la rotación primaria de ocho hombres consistía en transferencias anteriores. Tariq Owens (St. John's) y Matt Mooney (Dakota del Sur) fueron transferencias graduadas esta temporada pasada. Brandone Francis vino de Florida hace tres años. Deshawn Corprew fue una transferencia de JUCO de South Plains College.

    Barba trajo a Davide Moretti de Italia. Y no uno de los otros tres chicos.Jarrett Culver, Kyler Edwards y Norense Odiasefue un consenso entre los 150 mejores reclutas en su clase respectiva.

    Entrega esa lista a la mayoría de los entrenadores, y estás viendo una temporada de .500, en el mejor de los casos. Pero Beard convirtió ese conglomerado inusual en un campeón cercano y en una de las mejores defensas en la historia de la NCAA.

    Texas Tech mantuvo a cuatro de sus primeros cinco oponentes en torneos por debajo de 60 puntos. La única excepción fue una victoria de 75-69 contra la ofensiva más eficiente del país (Gonzaga).

    A medida que UCLA continúa su búsqueda interminable para encontrar a su próximo entrenador en jefe, prepárese para escuchar el nombre de Beard a menudo, aunque muchos días más los Bruins necesiten resolverlo. El hombre solo ha sido entrenador de D-I durante cuatro años, pero es claramente uno de los mejores en el negocio.

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    Samir Doughty

    Samir DoughtyJeff Roberson / Associated Press

    La Final Four Virginia de Virginia sobre Auburn siempre será recordada por terminar en controversia.

    Pero no hablemos del doble regateo perdido. (Los árbitros fácilmente podrían haber cometido una falta sobre Bryce Brown en esa jugada, también. Dos errores no hacen una buena jugada, pero es una prueba de la dificultad de hacer esa llamada de que nadie en ninguno de los equipos reaccionó de forma extraña al doble regatear.)

    En lugar de eso, hablemos de que Samir Doughty cometió una falta a Kyle Guy en el intento de tres puntos que ganó el juego, porque esto sucedió demasiadas veces durante el torneo.

    En primer lugar, fue absolutamente una falta. Guarde su "Trague el silbato" y "Deje que los jugadores decidan el resultado" llora por alguien que se preocupe. No se puede socavar a un tirador como ese en un cierre. No importa si quedan 15 minutos o 1,5 segundos en el juego.

    Lo mismo ocurre con la falta de Lamonte Turner sobre Carsen Edwards al final de la reglamentación entre Tennessee y Purdue, así como la falta de Bryce Brown sobre Terrell Brown en el primer partido de Auburn. Cuando disputas una bala de manera agresiva, corres el riesgo de hacer contacto y dejar que el juego se decida en la línea de tiros libres.

    In all three situations, the shooting team was down by two points. Auburn survived the first mistake when New Mexico State was only able to make one of its three attempts, but Guy eliminated the Tigers by sinking all three of the high-pressure freebies. In the other instance, Edwards made two of the free throws and led the Boilermakers to victory in overtime.

    Perhaps those fouls happened because those defenders were the furthest thing from shot blockers. Doughty, Brown and Turner blocked a combined total of eight shots this entire season. It's one thing to close out on a shooter during the normal flow of the game, but actually contesting shots while controlling your body against a shooter who is—at least somewhat—trying to draw the foul is a different challenge altogether.

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    Tony Bennett

    Tony BennettMatt York/Associated Press

    The monkey is finally off Tony Bennett's back.

    Long before the UMBC loss, Bennett's slow-paced, pack-line defense had already been labeled by many as a style that simply isn't built for success in March. The Cavaliers had been either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in four of the previous five NCAA tournaments, but all they had to show for it was one trip to the Elite Eight.

    Moreover, before this year's Elite Eight game against Purdue, Bennett's tenure at Virginia consisted of one win in five tries against a team seeded No. 7 or betterthe 2016 Sweet 16 victory over No. 4 Iowa State.

    But years of bad luck finally regressed to the mean in one unbelievable three-game sequence.

    Purdue's Carsen Edwards poured in 42 points against Virginia, but Mamadi Diakite forced overtime on a frantic buzzer-beating shot. The Cavaliers got the win in the extra session despite trailing by two with less than a second remaining.

    They were also down two with less than a second on the clock against Auburn in the Final Four when the controversial foul happened. Kyle Guy calmly drained all three free throws to send Virginia to the first national championship game in program history.

    And the Wahoos once again needed a late comeback to win it all. De'Andre Hunter canned a game-tying three-pointer with 12 seconds left, Braxton Key provided the overtime-forcing block and they got the eight-point win in overtime.

    It just goes to show how thin the line is between greatness and sadness in this tournament. If Diakite doesn't hit that shot, we're doomed to another year hearing about Bennett's inability to win the big one.

    Instead, it's officially time to start debating whether Bennett is one of the five best coaches in the game today.

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    RJ Barrett

    RJ BarrettAlex Brandon/Associated Press

    Sixty-seven teams failed to win the national championship, but one in particular felt like a colossal disappointment.

    From the moment Duke started kicking Kentucky's teeth in at the Champions Clbadic in early November, the Blue Devils were the overwhelming favorite to win it all. Because of how special Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett were, we spent nearly five months entertaining debates about whether Duke or the field was the smarter bet for this tournament.

    However, the No. 1 overall seed never much looked the part of a favorite.

    Even in the 23-point win over North Dakota State in the first round, the Blue Devils came out slow, trailing for a good chunk of the first half and only leading by four at intermission.

    In the two subsequent games against UCF and Virginia Tech, Duke's normally excellent three-point defense was nowhere to be found. It struggled to score in the paint against UCF's Tacko Fall, and it had no answer for Virginia Tech's Kerry Blackshear Jr. on the glbad, allowing the Hokies' lone big man to corral 11 offensive rebounds. In both games, the Blue Devils tested the limits of "survive and advance" when the opposing team missed multiple game-winning or game-tying shots in the final five seconds.

    And in the loss to Michigan State, Duke got destroyed in turnover margin while its season-long struggles with both threes and free throws proved problematic.

    We've seen plenty of incredible teams suffer a tough loss in the NCAA tournament. In 2010 (Kansas), 2011 (Ohio State) and 2017 (Villanova), the No. 1 overall seed didn't even reach the Elite Eight. In 2014 (Florida), 2015 (Kentucky) and 2016 (Kansas), the No. 1 overall seed lost in the Elite Eight or Final Four. Who will ever forget last year's No. 1 overall seed (Virginia) losing to UMBC?

    But those teams each had one bad game, which can happen to anyone. With Duke, it felt like the alleged best team in the country lost three consecutive games.

    The Blue Devils' 2018-19 legacy would have been better off if they had just lost to UCF in the second round. We could've chalked it up to the combination of Aubrey Dawkins catching fire and Fall causing problems in the paint no other team could—the wrong place at the wrong time for Williamson and Co.

    Instead, three nail-biters leave us to question whether this team was actually that good in the first place.


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