March Sadness for some, March Happiness for others
Ryne Oshiro, Staff Writer
Coming into the 2021 NCAA tournament, the men’s and women’s had two clear favorites: the lady UConn Huskies led by stud freshman Paige Bueckers and the undefeated Gonzaga Bulldogs. Unfortunately for both of these teams, neither got to hoist the championship trophy when the final buzzer went off. UConn lost the semi-final game that would have sent them to the championship game in Arizona.
As for Gonzaga, they made it to the championship but lost to the Baylor Bears. Gonzaga entered the tournament as the number one overall seed after going undefeated in their regular season. Dominating through the first three games, the Bulldogs did not get challenged until the Final Four. Facing an 11-seeded UCLA team, the Bulldogs had to pull off a buzzer-beater in overtime to take down the Bruins. Heading into the championship game, the Bulldogs had previously beaten the Baylor Bears, but what they got on Monday night was far from a storybook ending. The Bulldogs came out of the gates slow, trailing by double digits from nearly the first 10 minutes and eventually losing by a score of 86-70. The Bulldogs were the highest ranked offense after averaging 90 points per game but fell way short of a productive night when it mattered most. The Bears came out of the gates on fire, and playing with heart, the ball seemingly bouncing their way all night. The defense of the Bears was stingy as Gonzaga star players Jalen Suggs and Drew Timme could not get their team in the right rhythm. Had the Bulldogs won the final game, it would have been the first time since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers for a team to complete a full season undefeated.
The overall ratings around the championship game for the men’s side also took a hit as views for the game declined by 14%. Considering the current state of the pandemic and the game being held in Indiana, this game was the least-watched championship since CBS started broadcasting the game back in 1992. On the other hand, the women’s championship game was the most-watched game since 2014 and had a peak viewership of nearly 6 million people. It was also reported that the women’s final four was also the most-watched since 2012, and all indications pointed to it trending upwards as it was an all PAC-12 rivalry matchup in the national championship game.
As for the UConn Huskies, they spent the night watching the championship game as they witnessed the Stanford Cardinal win a national championship for the first time since 1992. Coach Tara VanDerveer finally hoisted the trophy after almost a three-decade drought. Despite pouring in a game-high 22 points and 38 minutes played, Arizona’s Aari McDonald gave her team a chance to win the game at the buzzer. McDonald raced down the court for a final shot but as three Cardinal surrounded her, she came up short and the Cardinal were crowned champions. Haley Jones led the way for the Cardinal as she scored 17 points and added eight rebounds, while her teammate, Lexie Hull added a double-double after scoring ten points and collecting ten rebounds.
As for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, who knows what is in store for the next year to come. As time goes on, the possibility of more fans being regulated to watch the games seems like a realistic opportunity, and March Madness can proceed back to its normal chaos. As for the Baylor Bears and Stanford Cardinal, both teams will look to defend their titles in 2022.