What’s Trending: A Wild Weekend in the NCAA Tournament

Posted by Matt Eisenberg on April 1st, 2019

What’s Trending is a column examining the week that was in college basketball social media. Matthew Eisenberg (@matteise) is your weekly host.

After a relatively chaos-free opening two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the madness arrived in earnest over the weekend. Taking a look back at the memorable moments begins in the East Region where Virginia Tech and Duke found themselves in a battle to the very end.

While Zion Williamson marvels those that watch Duke play with his dunks, it is plays like this that truly show how unique he is. With Duke nursing a narrow three-point lead, Williamson gets crossed-up by Virginia Tech’s Justin Robinson. Despite the blow-by, Williamson recovers like few others playing high-level basketball can…

Just days after surviving at the buzzer against UCF, Duke found itself in a similar situation again. The Blue Devils were up two points with just over one second to go when Virginia Tech drew up this perfect play to send the game to overtime… minus the finish.

The East Region Sweet Sixteen also featured Michigan State’s 80-63 win over LSU. In that game, the Spartans’ Aaron Henry scored a season-high 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists. This performance by Henry came on the heels of Tom Izzo’s outrage at the talented freshman in Michigan State’s opening round win. After the win against LSU, Izzo was quick to credit young Henry and his teammates…

The Elite Eight match-up between Duke and Michigan State was a game that many were looking forward to the second the bracket came out. With the lead going back and forth throughout much of the second half, Michigan State’s Matt McQuaid pushed the Spartans back in front with this layup that will not be forgotten…

https://twitter.com/si_ncaabb/status/1112484236773281793

Even with McQuaid’s magic earlier in the half, Michigan State was still trailing in the final minute. Izzo drew up this play coming out of a timeout, another magical moment that Michigan State fans will not soon forget…

https://twitter.com/SLAMonline/status/1112491050440900608

At this time of the year, the joy of victory and the agony of defeat reaches new levels. Players across all teams play with tremendous purpose and pride. The West Region was home to numerous storylines where family took center stage. For Texas Tech, this was shown prior in a special moment involving guard Davide Moretti

https://twitter.com/TexasTechMBB/status/1111121280483221504

For Florida State, the Sweet Sixteen was a chance to show support to teammate Phil Cofer after his father Michael Cofer had recently passed away….

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1111408695454253056

On the floor, playing for family and having an unwavering desire to do whatever it takes to keep your team playing was something that Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins clearly showed throughout the week. Just as Florida State was cutting into Gonzaga’s lead, Perkins made a momentum changing play just before the half…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1111418289329061890

Two days later, Perkins was back to doing whatever he could do to will his team back in the final minute against Texas Tech…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1112146543337857024

And in the cruelest of twists, it was this play for which Perkins will be remembered most….

In the South Region, chaos and a star shined brightest. Purdue’s Carsen Edwards was at the center of it all, beginning with a first half performance against Tennessee that set the tone for the regional…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1111422793617309696

And even with Edwards torching the nets, Tennessee rallied from down 18 to tie the game…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1111437130960498690

The teams traded blows back and forth with improbable shot after improbable shot, including this step-back three from Ryan Cline

And the rollercoaster of emotions and intrigue of that match-up culminated in a last second moment of drama. Was Edwards out of bounds? Did he initiate the contact?

After his magical performance against the Volunteers, Purdue got a match-up against the stringent defense of Virginia standing in their way of reaching the Final Four. Edwards was back to doing whatever he could do…

Chaos, drama, a heads-up pass, and a finish that will not soon be forgotten…

Even as teams and players give it all in the hopes of cutting down the nets, this moment between Edwards and Mamadi Diakite is another example of what makes this tournament so great…

The Midwest Region was home to another moment that showed competitors in their finest moments. Despite a disappointing second half performance that will haunt North Carolina for some time, it did not stop them from rushing over to give their best to Auburn’s Chuma Okeke moments after he suffered a devastating knee injury….

The Okeke injury led to this moment postgame with Bruce Pearl. Raw emotion and a moment that everyone could root for…

While Auburn lost Okeke, the Sweet Sixteen meant the return of PJ Washington for Kentucky. After dealing with a foot injury that had kept the big man out of the opening two tournament games, he returned and found himself in the center of this monumental sequence that put Kentucky up late…

The drama of the region culminated with an all-SEC battle with a trip to the Final Four on the line. While Kentucky has found itself on the right end of so many Elite Eight matchups, it was Auburn this time who found a way to keep its dancing shoes on a bit longer…

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/1112457546936119296

After four days of tense action that saw nearly every game come down to the end, we are left with just #1 seed in the field — and the despair of last year’s defeat to UMBC is now in the rear-view mirror for Virginia. For Michigan State, a trip to the Final Four meant getting over the hump against a Duke team that had owned its number for far too long. For Auburn and Texas Tech, it’s a trip to unfamiliar but very welcome territory. The 2019 Final Four is here and it looks just a little different than usual…

Matthew Eisenberg (80 Posts)


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