By Jack Hamrick
This year’s tournament has been one for the ages, and the Final 4 games haven’t even started. The upsets are present every year, but 2018 March Madness has been hectic. We saw the first ever 16-1 upset, Loyola-Chicago hits 2 buzzer beaters along with Michigan’s near half court heave. Whole brackets have been blow apart, but is it a fluke?
This tournament has made one thing apparent: experience is everything. Sure, the big name schools have more top to bottom talent, but they all lack experience. Teams like UMBC, Kansas State, Loyola-Chicago, and Nevada all feature an extremely high number of upperclassmen; however, the teams they beat, all filled with “freshman phenoms” and talented underclassmen, over looked them. One of the hardest things to do in basketball is beat a team that has been playing together for so long, like all of these Cinderella teams we’ve had this year.
Another trend that continues to pop up is these talented high school players from big name programs going to smaller schools. Of course, most of the top tier kids go to Duke or Kentucky or other blue bloods, but some are starting to go to smaller schools to encourage competition. You have kids like the Martin twins from Nevada who went to Oak Hill, overshadowed by the top 5 talent they have every year, and went to a small school, Nevada. Another example is Donte Ingram from Loyola-Chicago, who went to hometown school Simeon, the same high school as Jabari Parker and Derrick Rose. Some of these talented kids stay in their home state or town, and others like to start their own path and steer away of the traditional powerhouses. With these kids from big name high schools spreading out to schools all over the country, no one is lacking sheer talent, making everyone have a chance in March.
With experience and talent spread not only throughout these top 10 programs, but to the smaller, hometown teams, every seed has a chance at glory. Whether that be a big shot 16 seed or a sleeper 11 seed with a 98-year-old team sister, the Cinderella teams are here to stay. This tournament is telling us that experience trumps individual skill, which every team has the ability to have. The Cinderella “year” isn’t just a year…. it’s here to stay.