Sometimes in the NCAA Tournament it seems that every team is dealt a hand—six cards, potential games—and as Kenny Rogers said, “Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser.”
You never know what’ll happen, and you just have to give it your all and hope you come out on top. A 1-seed can have an extremely disappointing tournament and a 4-seed can have an extremely amazing tournament even though both fell in the Sweet 16.
All kinds of things define a successful and disappointing March run, and for the teams below, they either hit the big time or fell short in a way they really didn’t want to. Let’s dive in:
Winner: Arkansas Razorbacks
After the Hogs toppled top seed Gonzaga to advance to their second straight Elite Eight, it looked like the Razorbacks of the ‘90s had returned to make a run at another national title. This program has gone from a middle-of-the-pack 8 or 9 seed to the best postseason team in the SEC. In the past two seasons ONLY the Hogs have advanced to the Elite Eight from the SEC...and they’ve done it in back-to-back years. And they’re already racking up in the transfer portal since the offseason began. Eric Musselman has then in a place they haven’t been at for a long time—the top.
Loser: Duke Blue Devils
It was a dream season for Duke fans as their beloved Blue Devils made the Final Four in Coach K’s final season...then it was an absolute nightmare because...of...those...TAR HEELS?!?!? AUGHGH!!! Man I’d hate to be a Duke fan right now. A loss like that almost completely strips the joy of making a Final Four.
Winner: Saint Peter’s Peacocks
Ok, let’s state the obvious—coming out of the MAAC and becoming the lowest seed to ever make the Elite Eight in the history of the tournament means you’re a winner. But everyone knows that so let’s move on.
Loser: Kentucky Wildcats
Oscar Tshiebwe keeps piling up awards for his amazing regular season, but thanks to Saint Peter’s those are the only trophies we UK fans have been able to enjoy. Sure stinks when your weakness is choking in the clutch, and you end up needing to make baskets down the stretch in your first game and just can’t do it. But at least Saint Peter’s made the loss look not as bad in the later rounds.
Winner: Kansas Jayhawks
Another obvious one—the Jayhawks built a roster capable of winning it all and went out and did it. They only had three titles before—not a lot for a blue blood—but now have four.
Winner: Miami Hurricanes
Now this should keep Jim Larranaga’s job safe! An Elite Eight run that nobody saw coming made it quite the season for the Hurricanes after being pretty mediocre in a pretty mediocre ACC during the regular season. Perhaps they can turn this run into some recruiting momentum like UCLA did after last year’s Final Four run.