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UConn March Madness Steamroller: Taking College Basketball by Storm and Could be Start of a New Era

by Sophia Chen
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Before the basketball season started, only a few people said that UConn’s team this year would be good. Those believers were mostly just UConn players and coaches themselves. But guess what? With help from things like the transfer portal (where players can change teams) and being able to make money off their image, they proved everyone wrong by winning it all! Anyone can do it as long as they believe in themselves.

The Huskies rocked the NCAA tournament and won the title! Their six winning games averaged 20 points each, and on Monday night they beat San Diego State with a final score of 76-59. Coach Dan Hurley said this is special because at the very beginning of the year no one had high expectations for them as they were not ranked at all. But now they have proven everyone wrong!

A lot of people had predicted that North Carolina, who came second in the national championships the year before, would be really successful this season because they were bringing back most of last years players. However, UConn ended up winning the championship while North Carolina didn’t make it to the tournament at all. This just shows how much can change in college sports – it’s like free agency in the NFL now!

The day after his team, the Huskies, lost to New Mexico State in a game, Hurley wanted more players who could take shots from far away. So he recruited four new players including Joey Calcaterra and Tristen Newton. In the final of the game, Calcaterra made two 3-point shots for 6 points and Newton scored 19 points with 10 rebounds.

The coaches still think that UConn is going to have a great season, even though it’s hard to predict exactly how well they will do. This same story happened in lots of other sports too, and the Final Four was made up of teams that were higher-up seeds than anyone expected; that is, teams seeded 5th (SDSU), 5th (Miami) and 9th (Florida Atlantic) that had never made it that far before.

This year, there were two new players at San Diego State joining the two others who had already arrived. On the other hand, Kansas State was not expected to do well and got close to entering the Final Four by getting help from Keyontae Johnson who transferred in from Florida and made it onto an All-American team. Creighton also managed to reach the highly competitive Elite Eight due to Baylor Scheierman transferring from South Dakota State – even Duke wanted him!

Texas had a tough time but still managed to make it to the Elite Eight with the help of two players from other teams: Tyrese Hunter from Iowa State and Sir’Jabari Rice from New Mexico State. On the other hand, Arkansas was able to reach its third straight Sweet 16 even though they only had a few members on their team.

Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said that things are very different now compared to eight years ago when someone wanted to transfer. Back then, people had to wait for one year before transferring but now, players can move freely from one school to another. Not everyone is happy about it because some coaches find the process too ‘shaky’ or unpredictable.

Before, it was a thought that very experienced teams, such as the one that won all their games to become champions in 2018 (the Villanova team), had a better chance of winning.

Recently, sports book company FanDuel has said UConn (11-1) and Duke (13-1) are most likely the best teams for next season, however we shouldn’t trust this prediction just yet.

ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said that we don’t really know which team will do fantastic or not with their different player lineups. And besides, predictions made in preseason polls don’t actually tell us much.

For example, no one thought Florida Atlantic, Miami, or San Diego State were going to make it to the Final Four last October. Even with UConn’s new players no one expected them to win the championship either – apart from a few people.

“We thought we were the best of all teams in this tournament,” Hurley said. “We just had to show it on court”.

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