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From the Sentinel Sports Editor: 2024 Men’s March Madness Analysis

Markus Spiske via Pexels

While critics would say that this year’s Men’s March Madness Tournament was not as memorable as past tournaments, it still had many unforgettable moments and players that deserve praise and applause.


Phoenix, AZ Final Four

Out of the 68 teams in the tournament, only 4 teams were able to win 4 games in a row to make it to their final destination: Phoenix, Arizona.  This year’s Final Four teams included the University of Connecticut’s UCONN Huskies, Purdue University’s Purdue Boilermakers, the University of Alabama’s ‘Bama Crimson Tide, and North Carolina State University’s NC State Wolfpack. Though UCONN and Purdue, both 1 seeds, were projected to make it to this point in the tournament, Alabama and NC State had to play their best basketball of the season to make it to Phoenix.



As the number one overall seed, UCONN was projected to win the whole tournament. They did not disappoint. They beat Stetson (91-52) and Northwestern (75-58) to make it to the Sweet Sixteen where they faced San Diego State University, the team they beat to win it all last year. Last year’s matchup was not a close game at all, and neither was this one. UCONN went on to win 82-52 to face Illinois in the Elite Eight. 


The Illinois Fighting Illini (3-seed) was an excellent team coming in with a lot of confidence after beating the 2-seeded Iowa State Cyclones in a 72-69 victory. The game was close, with UCONN scoring the last five points of the first half to lead 28-23. Whatever UCONN coach Dan Hurley said in the locker room must’ve fired the team up because they went on a 25-0 run to begin the second half, running the score up to 53-23 before the Illini finally made a basket. After that run, the smallest lead UCONN held was a mere 24 points., with the final score being 77-52 to advance to the Final Four. 


In their Final Four matchup, the Crimson Tide went blow for blow with the Huskies, knocking down 8/11 three-point shots in the first half. UCONN only led by 4 points at halftime. Yet again, the Huskies prevailed. They seemed to simply outlast the other team’s adrenaline. UCONN’s tenacious defense and aggressive offense make it challenging for a team to compete at the same level for a full 40 minutes.  UCONN defeated Alabama 86-72 to advance to the National Championship game.


In the title game against Purdue, it seemed like the primary matchup was going to be UCONN’s 7’2” center Donovan Clingan versus Purdue’s 7′ 4” center Zach Edey. It turned out to be the entire UCONN team versus Zach Edey. The first half was close once again, with the halftime score being 36-30. Even without a 25-0 scoring run, the Huskies were able to pull away in the second half. They held Boilermakers without a single 3-point shot in the second half and relentlessly guarded Zach Edey as soon as he got the ball, forcing his teammates to take shots that weren’t falling. After 39 minutes of basketball and a 15-point lead, Dan Hurley put in the substitutes, setting off a celebration before the final buzzer sounded.


UCONN is the first team since the Florida Gators in 2006-07 to win back-to-back championship titles. Will they be able to three-peat next year, or are they losing key members to the NBA draft that can’t be replaced by new transfers?



After two years of early-round exits, the Purdue Boilermakers finally made it to the national championship game, their first appearance since 1969. In the first two rounds, they beat Grambling (16-seed) 70-58 and Utah State (8-seed) 106-67 to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. Matched up against Gonzaga, who had a lot of momentum, Purdue was able to pull away to win 80-68. 


In the Elite Eight, the Boilermakers were up against star guard Dalton Knecht and the Tennessee Volunteers. The entire game was close, with neither team leading by more than 11. Purdue was unable to hold a lead until there were around 3 minutes left in the game. They won 72-68 and advanced to their first Final Four since 1980. 


In Phoenix, Purdue had to face 11-seeded North Carolina State University. Unlike the previous two games, the Boilermakers led the entire game. Zach Edey had 20 points, along with 12 rebounds to record his 29th double-double of the year. The Boilermakers went on to win 63-50.


The national championship game started off well, with a highly anticipated matchup between Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan. It seemed like Edey was the only one who realized they were playing for a national championship. Purdue lost 60-75, with 37 of their points coming from Zach Edey. The rest of the team scored the remaining 23, and only a single 3-pointer 


So, Purdue will still be on the hunt for the school’s first national title in basketball. With Zach Edey declaring for the draft, Purdue has a large spot to fill if they want to make it back to the Final Four in the 2025 March Madness Tournament.


NC State 

North Carolina State University has not been good at basketball for quite some time. They weren’t even projected to be in the tournament this year. So, their run to the Final Four was unexpected and made for exciting television. 


After winning the ACC tournament, they had an automatic bid into March Madness, receiving one of the four 11-seeds and facing Texas tech (6-seed), who had beaten many teams who also received bids for the tournament. The Wolfpack won 80-67 and led the entire second half.


 In the second round, they faced 15-seed Oakland, who had upset the Kentucky Wildcats behind Jack Gohlke’s 32 points. The game was dominated by NC State in the first half, but the second half was back-and-forth. Eventually, the teams had to go into overtime to see who would advance to the Sweet Sixteen. The game ended in overtime with a final score of 79-73. The Wolfpack held Oakland to just 7 points in overtime. 


In the Sweet Sixteen, NC State faced 2-seed Marquette, who had competed closely with other teams that made it to March Madness in the regular season and came runner up in the Big East Tournament. After four minutes of back-and-forth basketball, NC State held a comfortable lead for the rest of the game. A win set them up to face the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite Eight. 


Duke held a 6 point lead at half-time after leading for around half the first 20 minutes. In the second half, a couple of runs by NC State brought the game back to a tie with 12-13 minutes left in the game. After a couple of made shots from both teams, the Wolfpack began to run away with the game. The final score was 76-64, sending 11-seeded NC State to the Final Four. 


In Phoenix, the Wolfpack was matched up against 1-seed Purdue. While it wouldn’t be fair to say that either team was shooting particularly well, it was a matter of who was shooting the ball better. Unfortunately for NC State, Purdue made more of their shots. The final score was 50-63, and the Wolfpack’s magical “Cinderella story” of a run came to a close. 


The team still has much to celebrate. From their victory over Louisville in the first round of the ACC tournament until their loss to Purdue, NC State won nine consecutive games. Even though there are only a couple of seniors leaving, they played big roles on the team. Can NC State make it back to the tournament, even without these essential players?



While the Alabama Crimson Tide were not predicted to make it to the Final Four, it was not too surprising when you look at their season. They were the highest-scoring team in the nation, consistently scoring over 70 points per game. 


In their first two games of the tournament, they took care of business. The Crimson Tide easily beat College of Charleston 109-96 and Grand Canyon University 71-62 to face the University of North Carolina’s Tar Heels in the Sweet Sixteen. 


Even though it was a close game, UNC had lots of momentum. Until, in the second half, UNC center Armando Bacot missed a dunk. Eventually, Alabama beat the Tar Heels 89-87, knocking out a 1-seed and advancing to their second ever Elite Eight behind Grant Nelson’s 24-point game. 


In the Elite Eight, they were due to face Clemson, who had upset both 3-seeded Baylor University and 2-seeded Arizona University. The first half was close, with the Crimson Tide only leading by 3 points at halftime. Alabama led for the entire second half and won 89-82 to advance to their first Final Four.


 In Phoenix, they were up against the defending national champion UCONN Huskies. Once again, the first half was neck-and-neck, with UCONN only pulling away with around 5 minutes left in the first half. In the second half, other than when they were tied at 56, the game was not close. It was clear towards the end that Alabama would not advance to the national championship game. A final score of 72-86 sent Alabama back to Tuscaloosa earlier than they had hoped and without a national title. 


The team could be a very strong contender during the 2024-25 season. They proved they can beat difficult teams and can be a high-scoring team. The question is if the transfer portal will have a positive or negative impact on the team. Star forward Grant Nelson is confirmed to be returning, and guard Mark Sears is going to retain his college eligibility while entering for the NBA 2024 Draft. Will Alabama be able to build another fantastic team?

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About the Contributor
Anna Yavenditti '25
Anna Yavenditti '25, Sports Editor
This is Anna’s seventh year at St. Luke’s and second year writing for the Sentinel. She is excited to continue to develop her journalism skills and write about topics that interest her. Outside of Sentinel, Anna enjoys to hang out with her friends, play and watch sports, and play with her dog.

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