Final Four: Make Your Own Luck


Nathan Albrinck

By Andy Osborn ’19, Contributor

The greatest basketball tournament of the year: 67 games, 68 teams, one title. This year’s tournament proved unpredictable as many teams were eliminated surprisingly early on. Most high seeds that lost to underdogs occurred in the Midwest region, where Virginia (1) was toppled by Syracuse (10) and UALR (12) trumped Purdue (5) in double overtime. In the East however, a prominent team, West Virginia (3), was defeated soundly by Stephen F. Austin (14). Perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament came when Middle Tennessee (15) beat Michigan State (2), 90-81.
These upset wins all lead down to one thing. A chance to cut the net from the championship hoop. Four teams made the Final Four, (obviously). The Syracuse Orange, ranked tenth, represented the Midwest. The North Carolina Tar Heels, ranked first, left a trail of destruction throughout the East. On the other side of the bracket, the Villanova Wildcats, ranked second, came up from the South. From the West side, the Oklahoma Sooners, ranked second, were coming in hot, after beating a 1 seed Oregon and a 3 seed Texas A&M to get to the Final Four.
In Final Four semifinal games, tensions are high and the stakes are even higher. The Syracuse Orange were on a miracle run to the finals, but a highly talented team stood in their way. North Carolina had been dominant in most of their games, and the semifinal proved to be no different. While Syracuse was trailing for most of the game, they generally seemed to be doing a decent job of trying to shut down the Tar Heel’s oppressive offense and retaliating in transition… until the last 10 minutes. Those few minutes seemed to last forever for the Orange on the floor. Early in the game, the Orange had been shutting down UNC from behind the arc, keeping them 0-11 for the first half and most of the second half. Once N.C. started hitting their shots however, there was no stopping them. Final score: South Carolina 83, Syracuse 66.
On the other side of the bracket, another team was going to be eliminated. Oklahoma versus Villanova. Villanova simply wiped the floor with Oklahoma, winning 95-51. The Wildcats dominated the Sooners on paper as well. Nova had a ridiculous 71.4% shooting percentage, compared to Oklahoma’s pitiful 31.7%. Oklahoma did keep up with Nova in regards to rebounds though, with Nova only getting three more rebounds than the Sooners. Oklahoma also shot 22% from behind the arc, whereas Nova made 61% of their threes. Villanova won by the largest deficit in Final Four history, making this game almost sad to watch as the difference grew larger and larger between the two teams.
Two teams left, the best of the best, battling it out in an epic game for the 2016 NCAA Men’s College Basketball Championship. The entire game was tight leading down to the final five seconds. With Carolina was down by three and Marcus Paige double teamed, he jumped in the air, pump-faked, and shot, rattling it in to tie the game with 4.7 seconds left. While this shot seemed to be the undisputable shot-of-the-night, Kris Jenkins had 4.7 seconds to ruin it all for the Tar Heels. Nova’s point guard, Ryan Arcidiacono, brought the ball up and drifted to right side of the court, lobbing it back to Jenkins, and setting a screen at the same time. Jenkins took the shot over Carolina’s Joel Berry, swishing it as the glass turned red. Final score: 77-74, Villanova in a classic buzzer-beater finish that will go down in history.

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