Underdogs Make March Madness
Predict Kansas, Gonzaga, Florida, Kentucky Play in Final Four
March Madness is upon us.
As a professional sports photographer who has had the privilege to capture some of the most iconic moments in basketball during the last three decades — spanning the NBA championship, the Olympic summer games, local high school players based in my hometown of West Windsor, N.J. — there is something undoubtedly special about the NCAA annual tournament.
It’s a brief span, this year running from March 14 to April 3,that unites higher education students across the nation from 66 institutions with camaraderie and jestful, friendly competition between rivaling schools. The games are concurrently watched religiously by avid sports fans as diverse as the very fabric of American history.
Each year, fans select their predictions for which college and university teams will prevail day-to-day, week-to-week during this festive and high-energy tournament. In the end, it of course comes down to two teams vying to win the final game before a live cheering audience in a championship showdown seen traditionally by millions of people across America, as well as patriots around the world.
This tournament season has seen major upsets by lower ranking teams overtaking the established favorites — referred to openly in the media as the “Sweet Sixteen.” The biggest buzzed about aspect to emerge recently was the crumbling of those 16 teams due to surprising underdog wins by lower seeded teams.
Villanova, based in the Philadelphia region along the Pennsylvania’s Main Line, and the winner of the 2016 championship, was the anticipated favorite in the Northeast. Indeed, I anticipated this local team had the power, fortitude and discipline to “go all the way.” On March 18, the No. 1 overall seed, Villanova, was defeated 65-62 by the eighth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers in the first big upset of March Madness.
Another big upset went down on March 20 with seventh-seeded South Carolina’s 88-81 defeat over the Blue Devils, which was another shocker as Duke University entered the tournament, like Villanova, as a top favorite and listed as a second-seeded team.
In addition to the activity bustling between defense and offense star college players on the court during these tournament games is the competitive spirit of this national fan base — with its strongest and most passionate watchers enrolled students cheering for their respective school teams to win.
In an age of so much division across the very fabric of American society, it is refreshing to see students unite and alumnus alike cheer for their school alma mater. Moreover, it is thrilling to see young rising basketball stars emerge to the national spotlight rather by a chance shot that scores the winning last point of a heated game to the effortless gifted player who opts to pass the ball to his teammates without hesitation, resulting in win after win after win.
In 1982, Michael Jordan led the University of North Carolina to victory over the Georgetown Hoyas. Who will emerge this year as the NCAA’s key star players? Share your thoughts with Gold Medal Impressions across our social media channels, via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, as well as in the comment section below. Be sure to feature the trending hashtag of this tournament — #MarchMadness — to ensure your comments reach the highest level of engagement.
I am bound for New York City to cover the Eastern Regional finals on Sunday inside Madison Square Garden as part of the Elite 8 showdown happening this weekend, March 25 and March 26, with two games scheduled on each date. Stay tuned for photos !
Last night, two district teams played rigorously to win the East Regional semifinal game of the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament. During the last four seconds of the Sweet Sixteen tournament, Florida defeated Wisconsin 84-83.
Attacking point guard Chris Chiozza, a sophomore, led the Gators to victory by nailing a 3-point shot — just as the buzzer inside Madison Square Garden rang: fini.
Also last night, as I predicted, the Wildcats emerged with a powerful win against the UCLA Bruins. The final score was 86 Kentucky and 75 UCLA.
The commodity, friendship and effortless sportsmanship between Kentucky’s players is a joy to watch.
Ultimately, I predict the final four will come down to Kansas, Gonzaga, Florida and Kentucky.
In the meantime, share your thoughts on this year’s NCAA tournament ahead of the April 4 championship game between the final two teams rising from the pack. To recap, you can share your prediction on Facebook or Twitter as well as via Instagram .
(Dick Druckman is a legendary photographer who captures iconic moments in professional sports, high school sports and the Olympics. To learn more, visit www.goldmedalimpressions.com, call 609-606-9001, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the sports photography gallery at 43 Princeton-Hightstown Road in Princeton Junction, N.J. Be sure to follow Gold Medal Impressions on Facebook and Twitter.)