True Madness: The Story of the 2021 NCAA Tournament

The 2021 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament is one for the books, one for the ages, and one for the underdogs.


Jamie Squire

The Bears of Baylor defied the odds, defeating the 31-0 Gonzaga Bulldogs in the National Championship game 86-70.

Out of My Mind, USA- Wow. Can it get much better than that? As I sit here rethinking all of the games that were thrown at me in a short 18 day span, I think I’ve found my answer: No. No it cannot.

In recent memory, I can’t think of a year of March Madness that was more fitting to its name as this year’s. Incredible things have happened that no one would have ever expected. It seems like just yesterday 15-seed Oral Roberts University took down Big Ten Goliath and tournament 2-seed Ohio State in overtime fashion, leaving only 0.42% of brackets intact. And that was one of the first games. What’s even crazier is that ORU somehow found a way to navigate themselves all the way to the Sweet 16, defeating 7-seed Florida, and then falling to 3-seed Razorbacks of Arkansas.

However, Oral Roberts wasn’t the only Cinderella at the ball. The dancing floor was full with unlikely stories, including 13-seed North Texas taking down 4-seed Purdue in the first round, and 12-seed Oregon State dismantling 5-seed Tennessee en route to their Elite Eight appearance. 11-seed Syracuse also defied the odds, taking down 6-seed San Diego State in the first round, 3-seed West Virginia in the second, and finally falling to the Cougars of Houston in the Sweet Sixteen.

Other squads such as 10-seed Rutgers, 10-seed Maryland, 13-seed Ohio, 14-seed Abilene Christian, and 11-seed UCLA were also party poopers for their first round opponents. UCLA even somehow managed to navigate themselves from the First Four to the Final Four, a feat last accomplished by VCU in the 2010-11 season. The Bruins took down 2-seed Alabama and 1-seed Michigan, two squads that were heavily favored to make a Final Four appearance.

Loyola Chicago continued their magic with the powerful fundamentals of Cameron Krutwig inside, and a little bit of prayers from the 101-year-old Sister Jean. The 8-seed squad navigated themselves to the Sweet Sixteen, taking down Ayo Dosunmu and the 1-seed Illinois Illini along the way.

Illinoi joined Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, and Purdue as Big Ten disappointments, as all squads were favored to win the games that they lost in.

While the story of 2021 March Madness has been written as the year of upsets, it could also be attested as the year of utter domination. Coming into the tournament, the Bulldogs of Gonzaga were boa

15-seed Oral Roberts worked their way to the Sweet Sixteen, busting brackets across the world as they shocked Ohio State and Florida in their Tournament match-ups. (Maddie Meyer)

sting a perfect 26-0 record. As the only undefeated team in the tournament, the Bulldogs were considered favorites to win the whole shabang, and rightfully so. The Baylor Bears also came into the tournament after quite a successful tear, holding a 22-1 record with their only loss to #12 ranked Kansas. The two squads were the #1 and #2 teams in the nation, and it was only fate that they would eventually face off against each other in the National Championship game.

Their match-up seemed almost inevitable, and Jalen Suggs is a big reason why. I mean did you see that kid against UCLA? Amazing plays on both sides of the court and the half court shot to pull through with a win in overtime? Forget about it. We all saw what happened in the National Championship game. Baylor! Oh my goodness can you believe it? That green team from Waco pulled it off, making their first championship game appearance since 1948, and being only the second Texas school to win the whole thing (Texas Southern 1966).

There is no other way to describe that game but as dismantilization. From the jump it was all Baylor. Butler and Mitchell, Teague and Flagler: Pure insanity. The powers of Suggs, Timme, and Kispert never stood a chance. An 86-70 victory over the most dominant team in college basketball is something that almost no one saw coming. But after all, what can you expect? It’s March Madness, baby.