This year’s NCAA Tournament has come to a close. Following countless upsets and surprise results, it was the last remaining #1 seed that dominated the final to be crowned the new National Champion. Villanova has now cemented itself as the premier college basketball program in the country with a second title in three years. Before we officially wrap up March Madness, let’s highlight four takeaways from the Final Four in San Antonio.
Loyola Chicago’s Magnificent Run Comes to an End
I think we can all confidently say Loyola Chicago’s fan base grew by several million if not more during this year’s March Madness. The incredible team-driven performances that led the Wolves all the way to the Final Four will be remembered for a long time. At one point during Saturday’s semifinal game, Loyola Chicago held a lead, and many thought the Cinderella story would hold on to clinch a spot in the national championship game. However, the Wolverines from Michigan proved to be too much for the Wolves from Chicago over the course of an entire game. So, what did college basketball fans learn from this magical run to San Antonio? Anything is possible in March.
Kansas Falls to Villanova after Toppling Duke
Saturday’s other Final Four matchup pitted two of college basketball’s perennial powers together. Following Kansas’s impressive overtime Elite Eight victory over Duke, the Jayhawks walked into its matchup with fellow #1 seed Villanova with confidence and poise. The Wildcats walked out of the Alamodome with a comprehensive 16-point win and sent Kansas home with a thud. Kansas will certainly be back in a similar position sooner rather than later, but fans will be wondering if this was the year to capitalize on numerous upsets elsewhere in the bracket. Nonetheless, a final overall record of 31-8 caps quite the memorable season for Kansas and will provide the school with significant momentum heading into the 2018-19 season.
Glory for Villanova and an Unexpected Hero
Despite trailing very early on in the national championship game, Villanova appeared to remain calm and knew it had to rely on a wholesome team performance in order to pull off the victory. However, no one could have expected the nearly flawless performance of regular bench player Donte DiVincenzo as he broke the national title game record for most points scored off the bench. How many points are we talking about? 15? Maybe 20? Try again. DiVincenzo went off for 31 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead his team in dominating fashion. His scoring explosion provided us with yet another example of how anyone can step up to the plate when it matters the most. Now, DiVincenzo will be forever regarded as a hero in Villanova basketball history. Not a bad way to cap off the 2017-18 season, eh?
Our Way-Too-Early Prediction for March Madness 2019
Although the 2018 tournament ended less than 24 hours ago, our team of experts at Concierge Live pulled an all-nighter combing through statistics and formulas to determine our three favorites to contend for the 2019 title…
The Wildcats have officially transitioned from a program with a lot of recent momentum to a perennial contender to win the national championship. While it is unclear at this time how many of Villanova’s underclassmen will declare for the NBA Draft, the team only loses three seniors to graduation. What does this mean for next season? Villanova will most likely be returning its core of key players that led the program to its second title in three years. We can expect the defending national champions to make another serious run at the title next season. The question will be which schools are going to be capable of ruining their bid for a repeat trip to the Final Four?
Though the Blue Devils ended their 2018 national championship run earlier than perhaps many expected, there is a list of reasons to believe the returning squad in 2019 combined with their incoming recruits will do some serious damage in the ACC and beyond. Duke has dominated the recruiting trail this year on the way to securing the top three overall players in most rankings. Many expect all three to become an integral part of the program the second they step on campus next year. History has shown that the right mix of youth and veteran presence can take a college basketball program to the top. Is Duke next in line to reinforce this strategy?
This year’s runner-up should be straight back in contention to win it all next season. Michigan only loses three seniors to graduation and will hope to retain the services of rising senior Moritz Wagner who has a difficult decision on whether or not he declares for the NBA Draft. Nonetheless, Michigan’s incredible hot streak that led the program all the way to the championship game proves this team has what it takes to break through that final barrier to win a national championship. We believe the Wolverines will be back with even more confidence next season. Will it be enough, however, to overcome programs like Villanova and Duke?
The anticipation for the 2018-19 college basketball season is already growing and our team at Concierge Live cannot wait until the first tip-off next year to start the madness all over again!