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Survive to Advance

The ins and outs of this year’s NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.
IOWA CITY, IOWA- FEBRUARY 15: Guard Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after breaking the NCAA women’s all-time scoring record during the first half against the Michigan Wolverines at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on February 15, 2024 in Iowa City, Iowa. (TNS Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

With March, comes basketball. On March 21 and 22, the first round of the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament games began with the best 64 division one basketball teams determined to take home the championship title. Each team received a seeding number 1-16 based on their seasonal performances along with other factors. These seeding numbers attempt to represent a team’s skill. Each year some teams defy these predictions, in ways both disappointing and miraculous.

Kevin Starkey, a Physical education teacher and Forum leader at CHS loves the high-level basketball he gets to watch. He enjoys the event regardless of the schools that make it into the tournament.

“This, in my opinion, is the best sporting event there is,” Starkey said. “It’s something I look forward to every year.”

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at State Farm Stadium on April 06, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (TNS Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Another one of his favorite parts is the chaos and upsets throughout the tournament. One of the most notable upsets this year came from the men’s bracket. In a thrilling game between the 14-seeded Oakland Golden Grizzlies and 3-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, the Grizzlies managed to pull off the win 80-76 behind Jack Gohlke who led his team in scoring, with 32 points, 30 of which came from threes.

“I prefer underdogs,” Starkey said. “So watching Oakland beat Kentucky, that was cool. I have family members that went to Kentucky so it’s kind of funny to see their reactions,”

Kyrie Garwood, a junior at CHS and a varsity basketball player at Pioneer, enjoys the madness too, but also loves to see the talent and great players of the tournament.

“There are so many great players graduating this year that it may be a while until we see a tournament with the talent there is this year,” Garwood said.

On both sides of the tournament, there are standout players. For the men, Zach Edey has shown his gift for the sport. The two-time national player of the year successfully redeemed Pudues’ esteem after a disappointing first-round exit in the past year’s tournament. He did this by leading his team to an NCAA final. Purdue lost in a close match-up against the UConn Huskies, 60-75. Nevertheless, Edey had an outstanding season leading Purdue in scoring, rebounding, and blocks averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game.

On the women’s side, Caitlin Clark has taken basketball by storm, arguably changing the face of women’s basketball. Clark averaged an astounding 31 points per game, making her the all-time NCAA Division 1 leading scorer. In addition to this, she broke the Big Ten all-time scoring record in both the men’s and women’s divisions. Lastly, she ended this season leading in assists with 8.7 assists per game as well as leading her team to an NCAA final. Iowa faced off against South Carolina in the women’s championship game, Iowa closely tracked South Carolina for most of the game, struggling to create opportunities on offense; a pitiable six buckets in the 4th quarter led them to fall behind. The game ended with a 75-87 win for South Carolina and disappointment among Iowa fans. Although Clark dominated as an individual, her team as a whole fell short. Similarly, Edey, though a powerhouse, could not carry his team to a title. Purdue has relied on Edey throughout the season but it was not enough against the undefeated Huskies.

Starkey was disappointed to find the obvious contenders playing in the final. He was also sad to see only a handful of close matchups throughout the tournament. In terms of the game and the teams in the championship, he would have preferred to see more of a chaotic and fierce final. Still, he recognizes what a great team South Carolina is, and was extremely impressed with their performance.

“They get along so well with their coach, they want to play for each other,” Starkey said. “They just were deep and good and strong and fast, they were just a really good team.”

“The ultimate goal of it is to find the best team,” Starkey said. “I don’t think that the NCAA Tournament is the right format to find the best team but it’s more fun than just watching the best four teams play.”

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About the Contributors
Amelia Sandstrom
Amelia Sandstrom, Journalist
Amelia is a freshman at Community High School, and this is her first semester on staff. While she loves to write and pursue academics overall, Amelia also has many interests outside of school. She has performed in many musicals and plays, and is a passionate soccer player. She loves to stay busy, but when she does get a break, she can be found reading, writing, or listening to music.
Daniel Jacob
Daniel Jacob, Journalist
Daniel Jacob is a freshman at CHS. This is his first semester on staff. When he is not playing tennis or spending time with family and friends, he enjoys listening to music. Their favorite album is Forever Story by JID.  You can find him taking photos around the CHS for the Communicator.  

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