Georgetown University shined in hosting the March Madness Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games on March 29 and 31. From the opening press conference to the final buzzer, the NCAA East regional in Washington D.C. left writers and fans in awe and amazement. The setting felt too good to be true, headlined by the Duke Blue Devils, the team that fans around the country had pegged as the favorites to cut down the nets in the District.
In the first game of the weekend, Michigan State easily prevailed against the LSU tigers. LSU struggled to find the bottom of the bucket in the first half and was unable to rebound against the big Michigan State forwards and centers.
Washington’s Hoya fans were left in nostalgia of what could have been, watching almost-Hoya recruit Tremont Waters put on a show in the loss against the Spartans. Waters amazed the crowd with deep three pointers and slashes to the hoop, bringing the Tigers within ten points almost single-handedly. He finished with 23, but was ousted by Cassius Winston and the Spartans.
The next game was the first thriller of the weekend as Duke escaped with another last second break as Virginia Tech’s Ahmed Hill missed a wide open tip-in shot as the buzzer expired. Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson, dominated play scoring 32 points in his third game of the tournament. The game against Virginia Tech was Duke’s second late game scare and the question remained if Duke could afford another late game slipup.
Duke arrived with freshman sensations including Williamson and RJ Barrett, accompanying five-time national champion head coach Mike Krzyzewski. The freshman pair ended the season as the only freshman teammates in college basketball history to average 20 points each on the season.
With four top-10 recruits and a legendary coach, reporting on Duke alone would have been sufficiently spectacular, but there was also intrigue outside of the Blue Devils in the East Regional champions, the Michigan State Spartans.
In the final game at Capital One for the weekend, Michigan State and Duke clashed in what many called “the best game of the tournament.” Two of the top four winningest coaches in NCAA history, Coach Mike Kryscheski and Tom Izzo, dueled in their fourth matchup. Kryscheski had beaten Izzo in 11 of their last 12 matchups.
Duke led the Spartans by three points with under two minutes to play, but Duke freshman guard Tre jones turned the ball over leading to a Michigan State bucket at the other end. Michigan State made a defensive stand, and with under one minute to play, Michigan State fifth-year senior Kenny Goins hit the biggest shot of his life with a three pointer to upset the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils.
By the last press conference, Coach Krzyzewski, thanked the writers – the ones who set the highest of expectations for his squad – knowing that he may not have another team like this again.
“It’s been a remarkable year for these young men. I’m not sure another group will
have it – a year with all of this,” Krzyzewski said.
Those last words were indeed the parting memory to this regional tournament. We may never see a team so talented and so heavily covered in college basketball for years to come. But while the moment surrounded us, we made sure to watch and listen.
And now as Michigan State leaves victorious, Izzo’s squad will bring the memories from Washington on to Minneapolis, hoping to capture an elusive second national title for their head coach. And as the final buzzer still rings in our ears, we sit searching for words to describe it all.
Tossing in bed Sunday night, I found one word that does justice to the weekend: Historic.