March Madness: Just 11 Months Away

March Madness 2022 is less than a year away, and all sports fans hope that the next tournament will live up to this year’s March Madness.

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By Adrianna Peng

At the end of March Madness, we all wish we could rewind to the start and watch all the games over again, make a better bracket, and most importantly, relive the thrills for the first time. March Madness 2022 is less than a year away, and all sports fans hope that the next tournament will live up to the heights of 2021. Fans had everything they could ask for in a tournament. From the great Cinderella stories to the game-winning buzzer beaters, this tournament was surely one for the ages:

Most Outstanding Player: Davion Mitchell, Baylor University

Davion Mitchell was the best player in the tournament. The rising star was the best playmaker for Baylor, the national champion, and averaged the most assists: 5.8 per game. Davion Mitchell was also the best slasher, and his arsenal of creative finishes was on full display throughout the tournament, earning him comparisons to Utah Jazz All-Star Donovan Mitchell. Named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Davion Mitchell was guarding the opposing team's best guard and created havoc. As he was the most athletic and dynamic player on the court in almost every game, he created run outs for easy baskets on the other end and was clearly the most valuable player on the winning team.

Runner Up: Johnny Juzang, UCLA

A school hero forever, Johnny Juzang carried UCLA the way that Kemba Walker carried UConn. Juzang averaged 28.5 points in his most recent two games and gave his blood, sweat, and tears against Gonzaga with his game-tying shot before being outdone by Jalen Suggs’s heroics. He carried the UCLA roster on his back, and though the way the Bruins lost was heartbreaking, Juzang’s performance will be one that sports fans remember for a long time.

Coach of the Tournament: Scott Drew, Baylor University

What a run. What a turnaround. What a coach. When Scott Drew took the Baylor coaching job in 2003, someone on the Baylor basketball team literally murdered his teammates. At his press conference, Drew vowed to win a championship with Baylor. The world called him a dreamer, and rightfully so until Drew defied all odds and won that fateful championship, albeit 18 years later. This journey will go down as one of the best turnaround stories in college basketball history.

Runner Up: Mark Few, Gonzaga University

David has become a goliath. In Mark Few’s first two years, Gonzaga made the Sweet 16 as a double-digit seed two times. They were a Cinderella story and made front page news as the great team that we all love to see. Since then, Gonzaga has made the NCAA tournament in 18 straight seasons and was a top three seed eight times. The Zags have also made the National Championship game twice in the last four tournaments, being the only team to do so. In this tournament, the Gonzaga Bulldogs won every game by double digits prior to the Final Four, during which fans witnessed one of the best games of all time before the team lost to the Bears. Few has made a no-name school in a no-name town a household name, and he is no doubt a Hall of Fame coach.

Best Cinderella: Oral Roberts

Max Abmas. Kevin Obanor. These two March Madness legends will forever be ingrained in March Madness history with their terrific performances. Abmas averaged 26.7 points per game throughout the tournament as he delivered for his team night in and night out. The great defensive play of Obanor helped slow down the likes of John Castleton and E.J. Liddell in the tournament while still producing like a madman on the offensive side of the ball. The lethal combination of these two helped create the highest average seed in the Sweet 16 (5.88). This Oral Roberts team will be in the record books as one of only two 15 seeds to make the Final Four in the history of the tournament.

Runner Up: Oregon State

Prior to the Beavers’ loss against Houston, Oregon State won six games straight, including three straight to qualify for the NCAA tournament. Senior guard Ethan Thompson carried this team on his back as they beat the future number one pick in Cade Cunningham from Oklahoma State. The Beavers were led by outstanding free throw shooting and stellar defense, often the winning formula for an underdog. Hopefully, the Beavers can replicate this performance in the future as they were the first 12 seed to make the Elite Eight since 2002.

Biggest Disappointment: University of Illinois

The hype for this Illini squad was off the charts and rightfully so. Coming off the Big 10 tournament championship, the sky was the limit for this team. With the likes of Ayo Dosunmu, Kofi Cockburn, Trent Frazier, and Andre Curbelo, Illinois was the second most picked team to win the national championship. Enter Loyola University Chicago. Led by Cameron Krutwig, the Red Ramblers upset Illinois in the first game of the Round of 32. Illinois was fighting to win their first championship of all time and fell well short of the expectations when it mattered most.

Runner Up: University of Iowa

Coming off of a Wooden award-winning season, Luka Garza seemed destined for greatness in the NCAA tournament. The Iowa Hawkeyes legend has never reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament, and this year seemed like the year that Garza would lead the Hawkeyes over the hump and into the second weekend, possibly even the Final Four. However, the likes of Chris Duarte and Will Richardson embarrassed Garza and the Hawkeyes in the second round. Garza erupted for 36, yet the rest of the squad could not pick up the slack to help Iowa win. As a result, the Iowa Hawkeyes became one of the biggest disappointments in the tournament, as the Big 10 had an abysmal tournament as a whole.