March Madness 2022 was a tournament for the ages.
Three number one seeds eliminated, a No. 8 seed in UNC made its way to the championship, and an unlikely Elite Eight appearance by No. 15 seed St. Peter’s all had us on the edge of our seats.
March Madness is a sports event unlike no other with millions of hopefuls drawing up brackets only to have them severely busted (like mine was). Even though 2022 still ended with a blueblood cutting down the nets, let’s look back at this year’s best games in anticipation for next year’s postseason!
5. TCU vs. Arizona (Second Round)
Hailing from the Pac-12 as the No. 1 seed, the Arizona Wildcats had high expectations especially after Tommy Lloyd, new head coach from Gonzaga took helm of the program. On the other side, TCU had their first NCAA tournament victory in 35 years against San Diego State, but had a tough road ahead of them in this game.
Expected to crush the opponent, Arizona struggled against the trio of Chuck O’ Bannon Jr. (23 pts), Mike Miles Jr. (20 pts), and Eddie Lampkins Jr (20 pts). Coming up evenly matched, Benedict Mathurin wow-ed the world with a clutch 3 pointer to force overtime.
Ending the game with nine seconds left was a crazy dunk by Christian Koloko (28 pts) which sealed the deal for the Wildcats. As someone who picked Arizona to win the whole thing, this game gave me enough heart palpitations to last a lifetime and is sure to be a March Madness classic.
4. Arkansas vs. Gonzaga (Sweet 16)
Drew Timme, Chet Holmgren, Andrew Nembhard. It is almost as if Gonzaga entered with the Avengers of NCAA basketball as they had the overall no. 1 seed.
In a hard-fought game, the Razorbacks pulled out the win and dashed the Bulldogs’ championship hopes yet again. JD Notae ended with 21 points despite a bad shooting night, and Jaylin Williams and Trey Wade tied for 15 points.
Reaching the Elite Eight for the second straight year, Arkansas’ athleticism and physical play proved to be the lasting factor. For years, Gonzaga has come in on top but still has never won a national championship despite their talented roster. One thing about March Madness will remain the same: never bet on Gonzaga ever.
Ready for 2023 College Hoops Action? Check out our preview of next season’s tournament action!
3. Purdue vs. Saint Peter’s (Sweet 16)
This game is honestly a must-see for the sheer incredulity of the storyline.
On one end is the Purdue Boilermakers, highly expected to win out as a no. 3 seed and with players such as Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. On the other end is a team nobody even could predict, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks who haven’t been in the tournament for 11 years.
Struggling on both ends of the court, Purdue’s turnovers and lack of a 3 point shot gave Saint Peter’s a win. Everyone will remember the first 15 seed to make it to the Elite Eight and the wonderful stache that was star player Doug Edert’s signature brand.
2. Kentucky vs. Saint Peter’s (Round of 64)
As I emphasized before, no one had even heard of the Peacocks and wrote them off as another small conference team. Boy, was the world wrong.
Considered a March Madness blueblood, Oscar Tshiebwe had 30 points and 16 rebounds but Kentucky did not have a reliable second scorer to back him up. With Edert landing a layup to force overtime, he made the final two free throws to send the Peacocks to the Round of 32.
Becoming the first school to hand coach John Calipari an opening loss, the Peacocks are a perfect example of the March Madness magic we all know and love. Yes, the Peacocks came in as complete underdogs, but through this tournament, they left an impression for years to come.
1. North Carolina vs. Duke (Final Four)
I’ll set the stage: they are conference rivals, their first NCAA tournament meeting, North Carolina had just beat Duke in their last home game, and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski was trying to prolong his retirement. With such historic precedent and everything on the line, UNC vs. Duke truly was a game that marked the end of an era.
Paolo Banchero led the Blue Devils with 20 points and Trevor Keels had 19, but ultimately it wasn’t enough against the Tar Heels. Ending with a crucial 3 in the last 25 seconds, Caleb Love absolutely shined with 28 points.
With 18 lead changes, it is almost as if the stars had aligned for this game and the storylines for it were too good not to miss. Coach K might not have gone down how he wanted, but his legacy will forever be cemented in basketball history.