When you think of March Madness, you think of the standout performances, the game-winning shots, the Cinderella stories and many more. Today’s student-athletes share a lot of the same fond memories as the fans.
The vast majority of players were born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, so most of their favorite tournament moments come from more recent memory.
BRACKET: Check out the bracket for the 2022 men's NCAA tournament
Another part of March that the players missed out on last year was the energy from a packed arena due to COVID restrictions. This year the fans will be back in full force.
Some of the former players that the current ones looked up to include UConn’s Kemba Walker during his run in the 2011 title season where he averaged 23.5 points per game in the tournament.
A few others include Evan Turner’s multiple 30+ point games in 2010, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette's lights-out shooting, Steph Curry’s emergence as the “Baby-faced assassin” and many more.
For the Cinderella stories, VCU’s run in 2011 immediately came to mind. The Rams came in as a No. 11 seed and ended up beating No. 6 Georgetown, No. 3 Purdue, No. 10 Florida State and No. 1 Kansas to reach the Final Four. The run came to an end when they lost 70-62 to No. 8 Butler.
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Another memorable Cinderella run was another No. 11 seed in Loyola-Chicago who also made it to the Final Four in 2018. The Ramblers won three-straight nail biters over No. 6 Miami (FL), No. 3 Tennessee and No. 7 Nevada before beating No. 9 Kansas State in the Elite Eight. The streak was stopped by No. 3 Michigan as the Wolverines won 69-57.
Maybe the most shocking upsets also came from the 2018 tournament when No. 16 UMBC became the first 16-seed in the history of the tournament to upset a 1-seed. The Retrievers thrashed Virginia 76-56 in the first round.
As the Madness quickly approaches, this year’s student-athletes will have the chance to write their own story and create their own memories.