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The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

The student news site of Lake Forest Academy

The Spectator

2024 March Madness: An exciting tournament once again

Photo by @marchmadnessmbb on Instagram
Donovan Clingan hoists the National Championship trophy to go back to back.

To some, March is viewed no differently than the other months throughout the year. Others, of course, look forward to spring break, and the relaxation and recovery factors it provides. However, many people look forward to March as it holds one of the most renowned sporting events, which never fails to entertain the audience. March Madness, a once-a-year phenomenon, consists of sixty-four college basketball teams competing against one another for a single championship title. In order to achieve the title and the glory that comes with it, you must win six consecutive games against different teams, and one loss will eliminate a team from the tournament. This exhilarating tournament has become a cultural sensation, showcasing the resilience, skill, and determination of student athletes all craving the same goal. March Madness has grown into a communal excitement, uniting fans in shared excitement as the drama of each game occurs. The allure of this tournament that makes people mark their calendars and clear their schedules, knowing that for a few weeks, college basketball will deliver moments of pure sporting magic. 


After a long wait from the last tournament, enthusiasts eagerly await the spectacle of nail-biting finishes, buzzer beaters, and Cinderella stories. People begin to finalize their brackets, which allows people to cast their predictions on the games played. It’s impossible to avoid the reality that brackets are often ruined within the first few games, regardless of the goal to achieve the elusive perfect bracket. Whether you’re rooting for a familiar team, an alma mater, an underdog, or even simply watching for the excitement of the game, everyone finds a common ground in the communal love for March Madness. LFA alumnus T.J. Minsky ‘23, creator of CBB Content-one of the biggest college basketball accounts on Instagram- said that this tournament “always continues to impress with the amazing storylines and the always entertaining nature of the tournament.” The unpredictability of this tournament is what fosters a sense of excitement around the world, and as history unfolds all corners of the basketball world come together to experience a special type of enthusiasm and or heartbreak.


The tournament began with an exciting 8-9 seed matchup between Mississippi State and Michigan State. This game was nearly settled early in the second half, but it launched the tournament in which over 23 million people created brackets. Many exciting stories from this year’s March Madness tournament were created like Keith Dambrot, who announced his retirement as head coach of Duquesne University, upset the number 6 seed BYU. Dambrot was LeBron James’ high school coach, so it was pretty incredible to see the journey Dambrot has been on. Kansas survived a scare from Samford University, a small school in Alabama, which would have been a huge upset. This tournament definitely offered some conference pride. Throughout the first round, perennial powerhouses remained dominant with the heavy favorites moving on. 


However, there were some new and entertaining stories that came out of first round upsets. Jack Gohlke, a grad transfer from Oakland University played a huge part in Oakland’s upset over Kentucky. Gohlke, a transfer from Division II Hillsdale College, transferred into Oakland’s team this year. His presence throughout the season wasn’t as meaningful as he came off the bench and didn’t produce to the level he did in the tournament. In their first round matchup versus Kentucky, Gohlke scored 32 points, and he caught fire behind the arc hitting ten three pointers, which propelled the Golden Grizzlies to a win. This game really busted many brackets, and people got to know the household name: Jack Gohlke. He secured many Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deals off this game, and although he won’t be going to the NBA like some of the players on Kentucky, he definitely got his fair share of social media success from this tournament. 


Another name that echoed through this tournament was the center for the North Carolina State Wolfpack, D.J. Burns. NC State put on a run during their conference tournament,winning six straight to make their way into the NCAA Tournament from the automatic bid they received by winning the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament. D.J Burns became famous for his loud personality and big size. He used his size to his advantage, averaging 18.3 points and 5 rebounds which exceeded his averages of 12 points and 4 rebounds during the regular season. His play definitely stood out in the tournament where he won Most Outstanding Player for his region of the tournament. Burns and the Wolfpack continued their run all the way to the Final Four, which capped off a pretty historic run. 


The Final Four this year was surely an exciting one. UConn, Alabama, Purdue and NC State all battled their way through the respective regions and made their way to Phoenix- where the Final Four was held. UConn continued their dominant run toward a back to back title dominating Alabama who was in their first ever final four. On the other side of the bracket, Purdue and Zach Edey, their 7 ‘4 big man and Player of the Year, couldn’t be stopped as they beat D.J. Burns and the Wolfpack ending their Cinderella run in 2024. This final was the best game possible for this whole tournament: the two best teams in the championship battling it out for a title. Minsky stated that “This championship was a great one between the two best teams in college basketball. It was really a great ending to such an exciting tournament.” This game was close until the end, but no one could stop the dominant train of UConn as they conquered the tournament for their second straight title. 


As the confetti rained on the 2024 National Champion UConn Huskies, it marked another unforgettable March Madness. Many new heroes and Cinderella stories were created showing why the tournament consistently delivers drama, upsets, and moments etched in the great history of this tournament. Beyond the tournament, March Madness challenges the norm of any other sport tournament; Underdogs continue to challenge giants in the sport, and dreams are chased on the national stage. The blend of chaos and storylines is what makes March Madness a yearly spectacle, making it something people look forward to every year. 

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Quinn Knight, Managing Editor of Sports
Ford Sweet, Managing Copy Editor

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