All the madness from week one

March 29, 2019

After four days of madness last March, articles raved about how a 16th seed had defeated a number one, a 22-point comeback, buzzer beaters and upsets all across the board.

One year later, the madness has not quite lived up to what occurred last year after week one., History was still made, however, since according to the NCAA, all top-three seeds reached the Sweet 16. While in the Round of 32, every single team favored to win, won – the first time this has happened since the tournament expanded in 1985. Not only did the top seeds win, they did so by margins of 14.2 points on average, higher than those of any other NCAA tournament opening weekend.

Ja Morant from Murray State led the No. 12 ranked Racers over No. 5 Marquette. Morant entered the tournament with the most hype alongside Zion Williamson from Duke, as he is projected to be a top-three pick in the NBA Draft. Without many nationally televised games, Morant has not received the same type of spotlight as Zion, but he got his chance, and he showed up and showed out. Those who got their chance to see Morant’s performance on Thursday were not disappointed, as he recorded the first triple double in NCAA tournament play since Draymond Green in 2012. He led the way for the Racers with 17 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds in a dominant 83-64 win to advance to the second round. His 16 assists are the second most achieved in NCAA tournament history.

The path to a national championship takes a little bit of luck, and this good fortune came just in time for the Blue Devils as they survived a fierce UCF effort. The University of Central Florida nearly pulled it off, taking Duke down to the wire. It was a game they should have won, but every team gets a little lucky sometimes, and that was just the case for the Duke Blue Devils.

The madness of the weekend was jam packed into the final two minutes of this game. UCF exposed Duke in a big way, and future opponents will look to do the same. Shots were in and out for the red hot Knights in the closing seconds, ultimately a T.J. Barrett put back off a Williamson missed free throw would be the game winner, 77-76. The UCF coach Johnny Dawkins played for and coached alongside side Krzyzewski at Duke. The two are very familiar with one another and Krzyzewski acknowledged this was a bittersweet moment for him. UCF dared the rest of the Blue Devils to do anything, completely disrespecting the shooting abilities of point guard Tre Jones, who could not make the Knights pay going 1-8 from the three point line.

It looked as if UCF had found the way to beat Duke, but the stellar performance of Williamson pushed the Blue Devils over the hump scoring 32 points, collecting 11 rebounds, four assists and 3 steals. But will Duke’s inability to shoot from three hurt them with tougher competition to come? We will find out come Friday as the Blue Devils take on Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16.

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