Mateo Vasquez ’21
Despite the shorter and alternative adaptations to March Madness, the season is up in full swing, and is looking to end up as quite a hectic one on all fronts. This year, whether it is a result of COVID-19 and teams not being able to go to the tournament, or just the sheer increase in the level of competition, there is indeed quite a high level of competition and play styles that have, quite frankly, destroyed the brackets that so many of us organized and have been betting on. Across the nation, all bracket services have reported that there is not one perfect bracket left as the first round alone created many upsets that have thrown this March Madness into utter disarray. This year there is a lot of hype around two teams: Oral Roberts University and Loyala Chicago.
Oral Roberts University had one of the most surprising upsets as they are ranked 15th and knocked out Ohio State, ranked no. 2 in the division, which was expected to be a close contender for the final eight. Oral Roberts continued the momentum that they had into the week and knocked out the University of Florida, another top contender in the nation. To say the least, recent wins by them have everyone in the college basketball world asking who Oral Roberts is and how they are causing this much of a disruption in the tournament. The team has made appearances in March Madness in the past but the journey for them truly started two weeks ago in the Summit Basketball tournament and since then the team has been having a big impact on the court.
This has been their best showing since 1974 and will continue to be their best as they square up against Arkansas. Many underestimated what they would be able to do against such a strong competitor. They are doing what many thought was the impossible and winning very close games. In the final quarter, especially, they have seemed to lockdown defensively and take advantage of their opportunity and time with the ball.
On the other side of the bracket, there is a lot of talk about Loyala Chicago, who upset the top seed Illinois. In recent years, the program has made a name for themselves at the tournament and they are currently tearing up the court. Many are thinking that maybe part of the luck is 101-year-old super-fan “Sister Jean” who has gone to every game with the team and meets with them prior to going out on the court. What they have been able to do on the court is quite astounding, making Illinois look like a weaker program than they actually are.
Back in 2018, they made it to the final four and demonstrated that they were a force to be reckoned with and they are doing that again back out on the court this week. Oral Roberts University’s show of force from the defense, along with their impressive rebounds, both demonstrate that the team as a whole is a force to be reckoned with. This may be enough to land them a spot in the final four, or even the finals this season. Stay tuned for updates to come.