March Madness over with cracking college crescendo

THE National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s and Women’s Division I basketball tournaments wrapped this week, with two sides claiming the ultimate prize after a mesmerising fortnight of action.

Both competitions had some enthralling action filled with genuine star power that will feature at either NBA or WNBA level in the coming years. In arguably the biggest item on the basketball calendar each year, March Madness did not disappoint, producing some excellent matches that came down to the final buzzer.

Both the Men’s and Women’s tournaments came down to the two best sides going head to head in the final, with the winning team producing a dominant display in the deciding game


UCONN Huskies (75) def. Purdue Boilermakers (60)

The best team of the tournament delivered a clinic in the final, outclassing Purdue on Tuesday AEDT to claim a 15-point win.

It capped off a dominant campaign from the Huskies, who won 15 straight March Madness game, all of which with a 13+ point margin. UCONN came into the game as favourites to win it all and justified those claims with a strong tactical performance.

The Boilermakers were one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country, but the Huskies suffocated them on the perimeter. Although it allowed Zach Edey to make consistent shots in the paint, Purdue made just one three-pointer on seven attempts in what was a match-winning defensive structure.

For the Huskies, Tristan Newton poured in 20 points, leading the way in what was an efficient performance on the offensive end as a whole for UCONN. However, this win was set up by defence, and every player in the lineup contributed to restricting the opposition from behind the arc.

Edey was once again the star for the Boilermakers, with the AP Player of the Year producing some massive numbers in the championship game. He delivered a whopping 37 points on 25 shots, using his seven-foot-four frame to get into a good position in the low block given the defensive attention was on the perimeter.


South Carolina Gamecocks (87) def. Iowa Hawkeyes (75)

Speaking of dominant team performances, the South Carolina Gamecocks remained undefeated to take down the Iowa Hawkeyes on Monday AEDT in the Women’s final.

It was a match that had plenty of excitement in the buildup, as the Gamecocks had been the best side throughout the tournament, but the Hawkeyes boasted arguably the best player in college history in Caitlin Clark.

It was also a rematch of last year’s Final Four encounter, in which Iowa claimed the chocolates. However, this was a different South Carolina team, with the Gamecocks winning by nearly 30 points every game, and that form carried into the decider.

Although the Hawkeyes hung around in the first half, the Gamecocks broke away in the third quarter with some solid work on both ends of the floor, and had no troubles cruising home to a 12-point win.

Likely WNBA top-five pick and star center Kamilla Cardoso was immense on both ends of the floor, posting an enormous double-double of 15 points and 17 rebounds, while Tessa Johnson came off the bench to score a team-high 19 points.

As expected, Clark led the way with a whopping 30 points, which was the most of any player on the court, along with eight rebounds and five assists. The star guard has had one of the best careers in NCAA history, and will be the top pick in the next WNBA draft, looming as the future of the league with her unmatched scoring ability.

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