By Okon Ekpenyong
The 2023 Men’s Basketball Tournament has been unprecedented in many ways. Three teams will make their first appearance in the Final Four since 1970.
The University of Miami, San Diego State, and Florida Athletic University advanced to their first Final Four in program history. The University of Connecticut, winners of four NCAA Championships, also booked their tickets to the final four.
The Men’s Basketball Tournament is not over yet and is already in the history books because, for the first time, no number one seed from each region advanced beyond the Sweet Sixteen.
In Houston, Texas, NRG Stadium will host the Men’s Final Four and championship game on April 3, 2023, which began on March 14, 2023.
Each year, there is a Cinderella team that typically defines the phrase one shining moment. This year’s team is Florida Athletic University, which is part of the C-USA conference and is located in Boca Rota, Florida. Most of these teams are underdogs, situated in places some of us have never heard of, represent smaller conferences, and often get overlooked by teams from the SEC, Big Ten, and Big 12. 1.27 percent of bracket fillers predicted FAU would reach the Final Four.
Number Nine Seeds FAU emerged from the East Regional by first shocking the number eight seeds, Memphis 66-65, and no one saw that coming. Then they took down Fairleigh Dickerson, who shocked the world by taking down the number one team, Purdue. Next up was Tennessee; it was a hard battle, but FAU won 62-55 to keep their season alive.
Two of the most exciting games of the east regional came when Kansas State edged Michigan State in overtime to face FAU. Kansas State gave FAU a run for the money, but this year’s Cinderella team was not going down without a fight. In the final seconds, they played an excellent defense to steal the ball from KSU as they attempted to find an open player to score, and if they had made the shot, the game would have been tied at 78 a piece, forcing overtime.
Last year was their first tournament appearance in program history, and before reaching this year’s final four, they had never won an NCAA tournament game. So far, their season has been unprecedented, and they are the first team to reach this year’s final four after defeating Kansas State.
One example is Loyola Chicago, the number eleven seed in 2016 and reached the final before losing in the semi-finals. A cinderella story is nothing new to Miami’s head coach Jim Larranaga, whose team will face Texas on Sunday for a chance to reach the school’s first Final Four in program history. In 2006, he led George Mason University from the Colonial Athletic Association to the final four.
Kansas State came out of nowhere and made us believe in miracles after an incredible come-from-behind win against Michigan State to emerge from the Sweet 16 to the Elite eight to face FAU. There was no doubt that that game was by far the most memorable of the tournament. K-State player Markquis Nowell finished the game with 19 assists and twenty points, and both schools put in extraordinary efforts and gave us reasons to cheer regardless of the outcome.
Miami basketball is seeing double as men’s and women’s teams advance to the Elite Eight on the same day. The UConn women’s team would have advanced to the Elite Eight had they not lost to Ohio State in the sweet sixteen, just like the men. The men’s team is back in this year’s Final Four. In 2004 and 2014, the University of Connecticut was the first school to win the men’s and women’s basketball championships. 4.17 percent of bracket fillers predicted UConn would reach the Final Four.
Number 5 seed San Diego State holds off Creighton 57-56 to advance to their first Final Four in program history. In the first half, SDS fell behind but made a late push toward the end and kept the game close in the second half to secure a victory.
In the Midwest regional, the U of Miami edged out number one Houston and Texas to become the last team to book their tickets to the Final Four, joining UConn, Florida Athletic University, and San Diego State.
UConn returned to the final four after winning the tournament in 2014 by beating Arkansas, who took down the number one seed Kansas and dismantled Gonzaga in the West Regional final.
When UConn advanced to the Final Four, I said that the team was quietly becoming a powerhouse basketball team from my perspective. However, someone corrected me and said, “UConn has had more success than in that period.” “They’re a national power in basketball, even if they’ve had a few down years.” 9.86% percent of bracket fillers predicted Miami would reach the Final Four.
San Diego, the five seed in the South Regional, defeated number one seed Alabama in the sweet 16 and won a thriller against Creighton 57-56 to advance.
We could see three of the four teams in the finals take home the title for the first time in program history, but for UConn, it could be their fifth.
Support the New Americans magazine to continue to serve our community with precise news that affect the new American, immigrant and refugee community. https://paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=8LHFS78NRNJJY&source=url
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.