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SLS Opinions on the 2024 Men’s March Madness Tournament

Valerie Parker
Many St. Lucians are basketball fans. Pictured here: students playing basketball on Head’s Holiday 2024

The following is based on a survey of SLS community members


Biggest Upset

61% of people say that 15-seeded Oakland’s 80-76 win over 2-seeded Kansas was the biggest upset in this year’s tournament. Oakland guard Jack Gohlke came off the bench and scored 32 points, and shot 10/20 from the 3-point line. His stellar performance led to the third consecutive year where Kentucky did not advance past the Round of 32 in the tournament, and the eighth consecutive year where Knetucky was not in the Final Four. This statistic may not seem like much, but the Kentucky Wildcats have been known to be a big basketball school, producing lots of NBA talent. Even though Oakland did not make it past the second round, this achievement had many viewers saying this was the biggest upset of the 2024 tournament.


Most Impactful Player

61% of people decided that Zach Edey on Purdue was the most impactful player of March Madness this year. He averaged 29.5 points per game and 35.6 minutes per game. In the title game, he scored 37 of Purdue’s 60 points, going 15-25 on field goals and 7-10 on free throw shooting. His highest scoring game was40 points against Tennessee. He also had 21 rebounds in the first round against Grambling. Even though he did not win a title, his accomplishments were not ignored by members of the St. Luke’s community.


Best Game to Watch

While there was no clear agreement on which game was the most entertaining, many responses said that UCONN consistently had interesting games. When they faced Illinois, UCONN went on a 30-0 scoring run to end the first half and kick off the second half. Against Alabama, freshman guard Stephon Castle scored his tournament high 21 points. To conclude the tournament, UCONN beat Purdue to become national champions in back-to-back years, the first team to do this since the 2006-07 Florida Gators.


Favorite Player

Again, there was no clear winner for this category. The three players that stood out in the survey results were DJ Burns from NC State and Donovan Clingan and Tristen Newton from UCONN. DJ Burns averages 4.2 rebounds per game in the tournament in about 28.2 minutes per game. Donovan Clingan, along with averaging 15.3 points per game, secured 19 blocks in 6 games. Tristen Newton averaged 7.2 assists per game. It is evident that these players earned their favoritism by excelling on the court.


Worst Officiated Game

Several responsdents said that the first round matchup between 4-seeded Kansas and 13-seeded Samford was the worst officiated game of the tournament. While the calls were even in the box score, a call at the end caused a lot of controversy. Kansas’ Nicolas Timberlake received a long pass and was going up for a dunk when Samford’s A.J. Staton-McCray blocked the shot, causing Timberlake to grab the rim with his empty hands and swinging to the ground and landing on his side, luckily not sustaining any injuries. The referees declared that Staton-McCray had fouled Timberlake on the shot. Samford could not challenge this call due to rules in the NCAA. Timberlake shot and made two free throws, pushing Kansas’s lead from one point to three points with only 14.7 seconds left in the game. After many replays afterwards, it is clear that Staton-McCray only touched the ball and what should have been a game-saving block got turned into a game-ending foul. Samford fans were understandably upset because this foul may  have prevented the program from recording their first NCAA March Madness victory.


Team You Wanted to Win

46% of survey respondents wanted UCONN to win the tournament, andt they got their wish. UCONN has not only dominated this year’s tournament, but they now hold the record for most consecutive March Madness wins since the field expanded to 64 teams. Their back-to-back title wins gave them 12 consecutive tournament wins, breaking the previous record of 11. UCONN was also heavily favored to win the tournament by professional sports analysts.


Team You Wanted to Lose

23% of people wanted Purdue to lose, and another 23% wanted Duke to lose. Duke haters got their wish sooner, as they got knocked out of the tournament by NC State in the Elite Eight. While Duke is a renowned basketball program, this year was not their best. Even though they never fell out of the Top 25 in rankings, they lost to many unexpected teams in the regular season, including Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest. Their Elite Eight matchup was not very hyped up because the Duke and NC State campuses are around 30 minutes away from each other, and they already play each other in the regular season. Nevertheless, NC State’s victory made fans even more excited because of the upset and the rivalry between the schools. 

People rooting against Purdue had to wait until the final game of the tournament until they fell, making the loss even sweeter. Purdue was knocked out of March Madness in the first round last year as the number one overall seed, so people thought they would be the surprise team to lose early this year as well. They proved themselves in five games, and their band of haters only grew as they progressed. Ultimately, the people praying for their loss got the last laugh, as Purdue lost by 15 points in the National Championship game


Favorite Moment in a Game

Many responses stated that DJ Burns on NC State was a fan favorite and that he was very entertaining to watch. James Adams ‘26 said his favorite moment in a game was “whenever DJ Burns scored.” Aidan Flanagan ‘24 said “DJ Burns guarding [Zach] Edey” was his favorite, and Luke Matthews ‘27 said that the “DJ Burns takeover versus Duke” was the highlight of the tournament for him. Clearly, DJ Burns put on a show, and everyone enjoyed watching.

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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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