Duke capture fifth National Championship in their "One Shining Moment"

March Madness is over after weeks of fast paced action, poor officiating and enough upsets to last a lifetime. One team triumphed above the rest as the “One Shining Moment” tournament theme song blared out in Indianapolis.

The Final Four had plenty of surprises and upsets for just three games.

No. 1 seed Duke took on No. 7 seed Michigan State in the first of the two matchups. The Spartans had already knocked off the teams with a higher seed than their own as they pulled off upsets against a No. 2 seed, a No. 3 seed and a No. 4 seed. Their path of upset would end in the final four as they failed to take advantage of a hot start against the Blue Devils as they fell behind late in the first half and never recovered. Duke went on to win 81-61, and they earned their shot at the title game a year after being knocked out in their first game of the tournament by Mercer. Their freshman held the team together, as they accounted for most of their scoring against the Spartans and end the Cinderella story for the seventh seed.

No. 1 overall seeded Kentucky needed just two more victories to close out the perfect season, but a familiar foe stood in their way. Last year as a No. 8 seed, Kentucky knocked off the Wisconsin Badgers to punch their ticket to the championship game. The rematch was set with the same stakes on the line. Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker were out for revenge and looking to end the perfect season of the Wildcats. The teams traded basket for basket down the stretch. With Kentucky up two, a late controversial call with just over two minutes remaining brought the game back to a tie at 60-60. Nigel Hayes put back in a missed shot with no time remaining on the shot clock, but the referees simply missed the call. Due to the rule of only reviewing plays inside the last two minutes, the shot counted, and from there, the Badgers took over the game and never looked back as they got their revenge and punched their ticket to title game.

This set up a No. 1 seed versus No. 1 seed for the championship game. The tale of two rosters as one featured a mixture of juniors and seniors while the other was relying heavily on freshmen. One coach making his first appearance in title game while the other was seeking his fifth National Championship. The “grind it out” working style of the Wisconsin Badgers versus the tradition of the Duke Blue Devils.

As many experts predicted, the game was tight, as neither team seemed to be able to gain much separation from the other. The two teams went into the half tied at 31. Coming out of the half, Wisconsin finally started to pull away from Duke as it seemed Bo Ryan had made all the right adjustments. Then, an unsung hero stepped on the court. Of all the highly touted freshmen Duke trotted out on to the court, it was the one whom no one saw coming that left his lasting impact on the game. Grayson Allen came off the bench on fire in the second half, and he singlehandedly brought Duke back within striking distance as he scored eight straight. Much like the Kentucky-Wisconsin game, it was defined by a referee’s mistake. Justice Winslow tipped the ball out of bounds, yet the referees did not see it that way. They reviewed the play and did not reverse the call, so Duke would go down and score yet another basket putting the game out of reach.

The Duke Blue Devils stand alone at the top of the college basketball world for a fifth time under Coach K. The tournament will be remembered this year for all the upsets and ruined brackets that occurred, but in the end, one of college basketball’s most storied teams added to its long list of accomplishments. The tournament left viewers wanting more as one of the most exciting things in all of sports came to end. For at least a year, the Duke Blue Devils are the national champions of the college basketball world.

The Blue Devils, made up of mostly freshman, pose with the National Championship trophy after beating the Wisconsin Badgers.
The Blue Devils, made up of mostly freshman, pose with the National Championship trophy after beating the Wisconsin Badgers.