2022 might have given us the greatest men’s college basketball tournament of all time. From the first four to the final four, basketball fans were allured with some of the greatest upsets, comebacks, and overtimes in tournament history. Given just how entertaining 2022’s men’s tournament was, it seems right to review the highlights.
First and foremost, Kansas secured its first national championship since 2008 in prolific fashion. Coach Bill Self, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Ochai Agbaji, and the Jayhawks edged out close games in the round of 32 with a 79-72 victory over nine-seed Creighton and a 66-61 win over four-seed Providence in the Sweet 16. After trailing Miami by six at halftime in the Elite Eight, Kansas flipped a switch and began to look like the most dominant team in the tournament. They outscored the Hurricanes by 32 in the second half, and blew out Villanova in the Final Four by a 16-point margin.
In the national championship, Kansas delivered the largest comeback both in the 2022 tournament and in title game history. The Jayhawks found themselves trailing by 16 at one point in the first half, and 15 at halftime. While there are several notable championship game moments, Kansas’ historic comeback certainly puts it into contention for the greatest final in tournament history.
On the other side of the Final Four, basketball fans everywhere got to witness the first ever matchup of the bitter Duke and North Carolina rivalry in the NCAA Tournament. This matchup came after UNC spoiled Coach K’s final home and regular season game of his career just weeks before, which added to the excitement of what was already one of the most anticipated games in college basketball history. The anticipation was certainly warranted, as UNC edged out Duke in a game that had 18 lead changes and countless clutch baskets down the stretch.
Outside of the Final Four, this year’s March Madness provided the greatest Cinderella run of all time with 15-seed Saint Peters. The Peacocks easily won over the hearts of college basketball fans with historic upsets and their memorable personnel. In the round of 64, they shocked the world with an overtime upset win against No.2 Kentucky. They continued to turn heads with a second upset in the round of 32 with a 10-point victory over No.7 Murray State. Then, in dramatic fashion, they became the first 15-seed ever to reach the Elite Eight after another victory over No.3 Purdue. Fans were easily enamored with Saint Peters’ roster as a whole, but there were a few standouts. One of which was their coach and former college basketball player Shaheem Holloway, who was hired to coach at Seton Hall, his alma mater, following this incredible run. As for his players, Doug Edert and his mustache shined in this year's March Madness tournament, knocking down several clutch shots and averaging 9.5 points per game.
Not only did this tournament have the greatest underdog team in tournament history, but it might have been one of the least predictable tournaments ever. There were zero brackets to correctly pick the Sweet Sixteen and the Elite Eight, and less than .1% of brackets to accurately pick the Final Four (fun fact: I was part of the .1%). Moreover, the higher seed won in 10 of the 32 games in the round of 64 and in 6 of the 16 games in the round of 32, meaning there was an upset in one of every three games in the first two rounds. March Madness definitely lived up to its name this year. I can’t wait for my bracket to be busted again next year.