8 Post March Madness Takeaways

  1. Most dominant run in March Madness History?

Dan Hurley and The Connecticut Huskies just dominated their way through March Madness, their only worry really coming in their first half of their first game against Iona, where they trailed by 4. They ended up finding their rhythm, defeating Rick Pitino and the Gaels by 24 and advancing to the round of 32. There, they defeated a tough Saint Mary’s squad by 15 points, easily dancing their way into the Sweet 16. In the Sweet 16, they dominated the surging Arkansas Razorbacks by 23 points, leading to an Elite 8 route of Drew Timme and Gonzaga. UConn then led wire to wire against the Miami Hurricanes in the Final 4, and defeated SDSU by a whopping 17 points in their finale. The Huskies won their six tournament games by an average of 20 points, and only trailed for a total of 5 minutes and 22 seconds in the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4 and Championship games. This level of dominance has not been seen in a while, maybe since the 2018 Villanova Wildcats that dominated their way to winning a National Championship while also dominating in both the Final 4 and Title Games. UConn showed fire and poise the whole tournament, hitting tough threes and turning defense into offense. This Huskies’ tournament run will be remembered for ages as possibly the most dominant March Madness run of all time. Oh, and not to mention, the Huskies did all of this as a 4 seed.

  1. Are Purdue and Matt Painter perennial chokers?

Matt Painter is a terrific regular season coach. This year, the Purdue Boilermakers came in unranked and spent a whole lot of the season sitting as the #1 team in the country according to the AP Poll. Zach Edey was the most dominant player in college basketball this season, almost taking home the Naismith Player of the Year trophy in unanimous fashion, with Indiana’s Trayce Jackson Davis racking up one vote. Purdue then went on to win the Big 10 tournament championship, defeating red hot Penn State in the title game. Then, came maybe the biggest upset in college basketball history. 16-seed Farleigh Dickinson came in as the dead-last ranked team in effective height, as Purdue came in as first. This was literally a story of David v. Goliath, and to the shock of the world, Purdue did not come ready to play, and FDU snuck into the round of 32, becoming only the second 16-seed to win a game in the round of 64. Yes, upsets happen, but, when you lose in three consecutive years, to a 16-seed, 15-seed and a 13-seed, there is something to panic about. Where will Painter and Purdue go from here, will they try and play more through guards, as that has proven successful in the tournament, or will he continue to play through a big, relying on his role players to step up in elimination games. Painter’s best post-season squad was one that was ran through Carson Edwards and sharpshooter Ryan Kline, again showing that he may have to change things up. Regardless, Purdue is a program that has been beyond awesome in the regular season year in and year out, but they have never put it together in the post-season. If Painter sees a similar elimination next season, there could be a new leader at the helm in West Lafayette.

  1. Miami Hurricanes Program on the Rise?

In a crazy tournament this season, the Miami Hurricanes were the only squad who made it back to the Elite 8, which they followed up with a huge comeback victory over Texas to advance to the Hurricanes’ first ever Final 4 appearance. Many are pointing to NIL, and the fact that they were able to keep Isaiah Wong as well as sign Nijel Pack, one of the nation’s top transfers coming into this past season, to a two-year 800,000 NIL deal with a big booster’s company, LifeWallet. Jordan Miller, one of Miami’s biggest pieces this past season recently declared for the draft. If Isaiah Wong decides to return for a 5th year, this Hurricanes squad could be just as dangerous, as starters Pack, one of the best rebounding bigs in the country in Norchad Omier, and Wooga Poplar are all expected to return to Coral Gables. AJ Casey, a 4-star prospect who received inconsistent minutes as a freshman should have a big jump in his second year. Regardless, Miami will use NIL to their advantage in what is already a loaded transfer portal. When they inevitably get a transfer to replace the wing presence of Jordan Miller, and hopefully add more size, Coach L and Miami could have a chance to have another historic season, which could propel them to a 3rd Elite 8 in a row. In a recently weak ACC, Miami seems to be one of the programs that will add depth and another consistent program to the conference.

  1. Big East and Big 12 best conferences?

The Big 12 saw 5 out of 7 teams advance to the Round of 32 as well as two programs in the Elite 8, in Texas and Kansas State respectfully. Meanwhile, prior to this season, the Big 12 had two different programs winning the last two tournaments, in Kansas and Baylor respectfully. The Big 12 had a multitude of teams consistently ranked in the AP poll throughout the season, and the way that these teams performed out of conference and competed so heavily with each other really speaks to the depth that the Big 12 conference has. Of course, Texas and Oklahoma will soon make the move to the SEC, so it will be interesting to see what potential moves the Big 12 will do to continue to compete as one of the best conferences in college basketball.

The Big East really proved that their conference was dominant this season, especially considering the fact that UConn suffered all of their 8 losses in conference play, all while going 17-0 outside of conference winning each game by double digits. Marquette suffered an upset loss on the surface, but, everyone knows losing to Izzo and MSU in March is never really considered an upset. Creighton advanced all the way to the Elite 8 and was a play away from going to overtime and playing for a Final 4. Xavier also advanced to the Sweet 16 before being dismantled by Texas. The Big East usually features Villanova as their best squad, so the fact that they did not even make the tournament this past season is a bright spot going forward for the conference.

  1. Big 10 most overrated conference?

The only team to make it out of the first weekend and into the Sweet 16 was Michigan State, who came in as a 7-seed and had to play tough USC and Marquette teams respectfully to get there. Many analysts predicted Indiana would make a deep run, even Penn State because of the way they looked in the Big 10 Tournament, and, obviously for Purdue to make a deep run as a #1 seed with the Naismith Player of the Year. Well, not only were they wrong, but they really were not even close. Indiana was routed by Miami, Maryland lost big to Alabama, Penn State put up a hard fight against Texas, but it was not enough, and Northwestern lost to UCLA, all in the Round of 32. And of course, Purdue lost in one of the biggest upsets in March Madness history. Iowa was defeated in the first round as well. The attention that this conference gets, and the potential biases that are brought up because of this attention has caused for teams to receive higher seeds and be looked at as better than they are. Wisconsin and Michigan, two teams with 15 plus losses, and only one with 20 wins were both on the bubble, just because their competition was viewed as higher. The Big 10 once again proved that they will send teams to the tournament, but they do not advance very far. It is time to be more practical about where this conference stands.

  1. FAU one of the most magical runs ever, and they might just be getting started

Dusty May and his Florida Atlantic Squad took the nation by storm in this year’s March Madness tournament, and they did it in a way that no Cinderella story really ever has. They did not act shocked when they won these games, they did not play as if they had nothing to lose but they played their game and did not succumb to the media attention or anything else. There was no Doug Edert of the FAU squad, instead, they were seeming like a legit contender to win the National Championship and came one shot away from doing so. If, like freshman Nick Boyd stated, they all decide to return and play for the Owls next season, this FAU team will be ranked in the top 25 all season long, and definitely will not be disrespected when it comes to seeding next season. Alijah Martin is one of the most composed and electric guards in the country, Nick Boyd can really shoot it and he is just getting started as he is a freshman, center Vlad Goldin was just a red shirt freshman and Johnell Davis was just a sophomore. If FAU can return all of their guys, and if Dusty May decides to stay, watch out for the Owls next year.

  1. Experience Wins

UConn had a very similar squad last year, they did lose RJ Cole to the portal, and they brought in 7’2 freshman Donovan Clingan, but they did not rely on him too heavily. They also brought in Joey “California” Calcaterra from San Diego, who was a big-time shooting spark off the bench. Jordan Hawkins developed into one of the best scorers and shooters in his second college season, and Adama Sanogo has shown crazy development in his years as a Husky. Andre Jackson also developed into one of the best open-floor playmakers in his 3rd year at UConn. The past last one-and-done focused team to win the National Championship was Duke in 2014-15, since then, it has been teams that have developed their talent and have built commadore with each other for longer than just one season. The two Villanova squads all had stars who were there for multiple years, same with UNC, Virginia, Baylor and Kansas, all of their stars were guys who were there for multiple years, and it really showed in the postseason when adversity arose.

  1. March Produces Stars

Heading into March Madness, those who watched Kansas State knew that Markquis Nowell has so much talent and was one of the best point guards in the country. The tournament’s platform allowed for Nowell to show his skills on the highest of stages, including an iconic moment in which he told Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas to “watch this” before a big play. Nowell turned heads left and right with his flashy passes and will to score, and this allowed him to become a media sensation, which could propel him to be drafted in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Jordan Miller was 7/7 from the field and 13/13 from the freethrow line in Miami’s legendary comeback against Texas to advance to the Final 4. This has not been done since Christian Laettner hit the shot against Kentucky, and the media jumped all over it. Miller, someone who could have returned to Miami by using a COVID year, opted to enter his name into the NBA draft, something that performance, along with great performances against Houston and Indiana are allowing him to pursue his dreams of playing in the NBA.

Lamont Butler hit one of the most iconic shots in Final 4 history as SDSU defeated FAU to advance to the National Championship, where they fell short to UConn. Butler’s shot was heard around the world, and he will forever be remembered for hitting that iconic shot. The popularity that Butler has and will continue to gain because of this will be unprecedented, and it really shows what March Madness, and its platform can do for NCAA athletes.

Ben Silver

Vegas Sports, Inc.

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