The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Nothing But Net: March Brings Basketball Madness to Poly


College basketball is a major source of entertainment for basketball lovers across the country. To honor the sport, the joy it brings, and the competitive nature it possesses, people celebrate basketball throughout March. Basketball has continued to be a sport of growing interest for Americans since 2016, where the sport has overall increased its participants by 33 percent, according to Statistica. 

At the college level, this year’s March Madness was unlike any other. Senior stars counting down their final games, records being broken, and big scenes of emotion, the women’s and men’s NCAA tournaments of 2024 were unique as to how they were, and will be, an ongoing basketball inspiration to people across the U.S.    

The National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) organizes the games and tournaments of women’s and men’s college basketball teams. Before such games, Caitlin Clark, a women’s college basketball player for the Hawkeyes of Iowa State University, gained immense popularity. She entered the spotlight in her 2023-24 year, which was her senior year of college. 

Leading into the tournament, Clark “ha[d] spent the entire season at the center of the national spotlight,” said USA Today. “Clark is the face of a sea change in women’s basketball − in women’s sports, really − and the transformation is playing out in real-time.”

The University of Connecticut, also known as the UConn Huskies, was the favorite to win the NCAA men’s championship as a number one seed in the East region. Going into the tournament, the Huskies were the defending national champions, with Tristen Newton as the starting point guard.


As the NCAA championships began, 64 teams were divided into four regions. The tournament is organized through a ranking system. NBC Sports Chicago explained how “The 16 teams in each region are then categorized by their seed, ranging from No. 1 to No. 16. The higher seed plays the lower seed (e.g. No. 1 vs. No. 16) as the tournament progresses.”

Throughout March Madness 2024, there were many “upsets,” “defined… as when the winning team in an NCAA tournament game was seeded at least five seed lines worse than the losing team,” according to the NCAA. These “upsets” were prevalent in both the women’s and men’s tournaments this year, but especially the men’s tournament. Probably the most surprising upset of the season is  eleventh-seed North Carolina State (NCST) beating number-six-seed Texas Tech University (TTU) with a final score of 80 – 67.

In addition, it is highly uncommon for the number sixteen seeds to beat the number one seed, which has only happened twice in the history of the men’s NCAA College Basketball Tournament. “Top seeds own a 154-2 all-time record against 16 seeds. FDU vs. Purdue in 2023 was only the second time the upset has happened. That means 16 seeds have a 1.28 winning percentage against number 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament,” according to the NCAA.

As losing teams slowly were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, and winners of games progressed further into the competition, it became the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite Eight, and then the Final Four. In the women’s tournament, it narrowed down to a game with South Carolina (a number one seed) vs. NC (North Carolina) State (a number three seed) and Iowa (a number one seed) vs. UConn (a number three seed). South Carolina won their game 78 to 59 and Iowa won 71 to 69. 

The final men’s and women’s games of the NCAA tournaments were suspenseful, but more or less expected by the college basketball audiences. The men’s championship teams were the Purdue Boilermakers and the UConn Huskies, and the women’s national championship teams were the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Many streamed the championship games on their TVs, but this year was unique when comparing the amount of views of the women’s tournament compared to the men’s. “The final game, between South Carolina’s Gamecocks and the University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes, averaged about 18.7 million viewers and peaked at a whopping 24 million combined on ESPN and ABC, making it the first time in history that a women’s final has drawn a larger TV audience than the men’s, according to ESPN,” wrote NPR.

After many hard-fought games, and a blowout versus Purdue in the final, the UConn Huskies won the National title for the men’s tournament, and the South Carolina Gamecocks were victorious over Iowa, ultimately having South Carolina end the 2023-24 season with zero losses. Both the Huskies and Gamecocks experienced back-to-back victories.  

During the aftermath of the tournament, “Caitlin Clark got a final chance to say goodbye to Iowa fans… and of course, there was a big crowd waiting,” wrote Fox Sports. The article continued: “Clark received a standing ovation when Iowa athletics director Beth Goetz announced that Clark’s No. 22 jersey will be retired, the third number to be retired in program history.”

The influence players such as Clark and Newton give to the rising youth is most visible in the NCAA tournaments, as they draw attention from everyone across the country. As the college basketball season has come to an end, many have gathered their thoughts and opinions for the upcoming 2024-25 College Basketball season.

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