By Eddie Young
The University of Connecticut (UConn) defeated San Diego State 76-59 and has won the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. This is their fifth title, with all five coming since 1999, and their first since they won as a seven seed in their 2014 miracle run.
Adama Sanogo, UConn’s 6’9” junior forward, won Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. He averaged 19.7 points per game and 10 rebounds per game in the six tournament games his team played, having 17 points and 10 rebounds in the championship and adding four double-doubles during the run, too. Sanogo was also observing Ramadan for much of the tournament, so he was unable to eat or drink when the sun was up as he was putting together these amazing performances that named him the Most Outstanding Player.
UConn entered the tournament as a four seed, but they quickly announced their presence as the best team in the country. They destroyed 13 seed Iona in their first round matchup 87-63, even though they trailed that game at halftime. Their second round matchup was against fifth seeded St. Mary’s, and while they were only up by one at the half, the Huskies pulled away in the second and ended up winning 70-55. UConn’s Sweet Sixteen matchup came against eight seed Arkansas, who were coming off a huge upset victory against the one seed in their region, Kansas. However, UConn took care of business early in that game, quickly building a lead and never letting up, with the final score being 88-65 in favor of the Huskies.
In the Elite Eight, UConn faced off against three seed Gonzaga. Many expected the game to be close, but UConn had full control the entire way, and earned a comfortable victory with a score of 82-54. Their Final Four matchup against another five seed in Miami was hailed as a possible tough matchup, but UConn took an early lead and had another fairly easy win, winning 72-59. To top things off, UConn even dominated five seed San Diego State in the final, grabbing another early lead and winning 76-59. The Huskies were far and away the best team in this tournament, and to prove their dominance, they became the first team ever to win every game by 13 or more points on their path to winning the title.
UConn’s head coach and Jersey City native Dan Hurley becomes the third UConn coach to win a national championship, joining the legendary Jim Calhoun, who won three, and Kevin Ollie. Hurley is a name of basketball royalty in New Jersey. Dan’s father, Bob, is known as one of the greatest high school basketball coaches of all time, coaching the now closed St. Anthony’s in Jersey City to 26 state championships in his 39 years there. Dan’s older brother, Bobby, is one of the greatest college basketball players of all time, winning two national championships at Duke and a Most Outstanding Player award in 1992, while also holding the NCAA record for most assists in a college career. Dan Hurley’s championship as a coach adds to the already great basketball legacy built by the Hurley family from Jersey City.
Every national champion since 2007 has been either a one seed, a two seed, or UConn. UConn has one three titles since 2007, and were a three seed, a seven seed and now a four seed in those victories. They finished this season with a 31-8 record, with all eight of their losses coming to other teams in their conference, the Big East. An all around dominant year was capped off with an all around dominant tournament for the Huskies.