The Return of March Madness


Anthony Malta, Staff Writer

“Our decision to cancel the tournament is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities.” 

On the twelfth of last March, the NCAA released their statement that cancelled the highly anticipated Men’s Basketball March Madness Tournament. 370 days later, the king of March sports returns, as does the excitement of upsets, brackets and winners. 

In the jungle of March Madness, full of predators and prey, only one team can come out victorious. The lions of this year’s tournament are top seeds Michigan, Illinois, Baylor and Gonzaga, and they are looking to sustain their reigns. 


Michigan is a force to be reckoned with after beginning the season 11-0 and winning the Big Ten’s regular season title. Led by freshman Hunter Dickinson, the Wolverines amassed 20 wins to only four losses, beating other Big Ten powerhouse Iowa and splitting games with second seed Ohio State. With their experience, shooting and breakout players, Michigan has a solid chance to make a run in March Madness. However, the largest question that arises is the state of the Wolverines without senior wing Isaiah Livers — the team’s second-leading scorer who is out indefinitely with a foot injury. The strength of Michigan is unknown without their veteran star, but don’t count them out just yet.


One of the hottest teams in the nation, Illinois, looks to cut down more nets in March Madness after defeating Ohio State in the finals of the Big Ten tournament. The Big Ten was widely regarded by analysts as the toughest conference in college basketball, and following their second place standings at the end of the regular season (only behind Michigan), the Fighting Illini rule over it. All-American candidates Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn led Illinois to a 23-6 regular season record in which they beat Michigan and second seed Iowa. Scoring double digits in every game but two, big-man Kofi Cockburn has improved his shooting percentage by 14% since last year. Similarly, junior Ayo Dosunmo is a National Player of the Year candidate and ranked as the fourth best player in the country by Sports Illustrated. The Illinois roster leaves fans wondering if the dynamic Dosunmo-Cockburn duo will be enough to win it all. 


The creative and irreplaceable Jared Butler has led Baylor to the top of the Big 12 with a 22-2 record. Before losing toOklahoma State, the Bears had only one loss. Baylor started off the season on a historic run winning 18 consecutive games. A three week postponement in February due to COVID-19 caused the Bears tenacious defense and highly efficient offense took a hit. Although they defeated Kansas State, a below .500 team, Baylor had a jaw dropping 21 turnovers and could not find their shooting stroke in the Big 12 tournament, losing in the semifinals to consensus number one overall pick Cade Cunningham and his Oklahoma State Cowboys. However, the Bears are strong enough to recover and dominate their opponents in March Madness. 


It comes as no surprise that Gonzaga is the top dog in this year’s tournament. The undefeated Bulldogs led all of college basketball in points per game, shooting percentage and scoring margin. Their three-headed monster consists of Corey Kispert, Drew Timme and Jalen Suggs, all being top 10 college basketball players and All American candidates. Kispert, a sharpshooter, has experience in the tournament as a senior. Timme, an outstanding sophomore big-man dominates the paint and has shown great improvement since his freshman year. Most impressive of all is Jalen Suggs, the freshman guard who is elite on both ends of the floor. Suggs is unstoppable 1-on-1 and his aggressive playmaking and scoring abilities can get Gonzaga a bucket at any time. He is able to guard almost anyone on the court, which establishes the tenacity of the Bulldogs. No undefeated team has ever won the tournament since Indiana in 1976, but if any team can do it, powerhouse Gonzaga may be the one. 

March Madness is the most unpredictable event in sports. The one seeds have proven to be the best teams in college basketball but nothing is a given. The notoriety of upsets and buzzer beaters in March looms in the minds of any successful squad. Any team can win on any given day, and that is what makes March Madness one of the highest anticipated sports events in America.