Elation for UConn after 75-60 win over Purdue

Elation for UConn after 75-60 win over Purdue

By: Myles Papponi

The wait is over; the final two teams in the Men’s NCAA Tournament played Monday for a chance to claim that elusive title that all college basketball teams so desperately covet. Teams work and dedicate the entire offseason and regular season for the chance to play for a Championship. This year’s championship game was between the #1 seed Purdue Boilermakers and the #1 overall seed, the UConn Huskies. It was the tenth time two #1 seeds faced each other in the tournament’s final game. With a total eclipse occurring early in the afternoon and both teams playing for history, an exhilarating game was destiny, and it all went down in Glendale, Arizona before culminating in a 75-60 win for UConn.

Going into the game on Monday, the expectation was to see the two seven-footers, Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan, clash and be the difference makers. However, the other role players on each team would prove to be the deciding factors. It was a tight back-and-forth contest in the first half, with UConn leading by just six after a late 15-7 run. Purdue’s Zach Edey would dominate from the jump, giving his team 16 points and 5 rebounds in the first. In their recent games in the tournament, UConn seems to give their opponent a false sense of security by not being up by a lot at the break. Purdue came out of the half very relaxed, while UConn shot out of the gates in the second with energy and focus. The Boilermakers looked shocked by UConn’s defensive intensity and fast-paced offense. The game being played quickly did not favor Purdue because they could not set up their half-court offense and feed their big man. The Huskies frustrated Edey in the second half, but he quickly found his own game again, putting up 37 points and pulling down 10 boards. The National Player of the Year could not do it all by himself needing someone to come along for the ride. The rest of the Purdue team would only score 23 points, with a quiet 2 points coming off the bench. Purdue is a decent three-point shooting team, averaging eight a game, but UConn’s defense would hold Purdue to one shot from deep. This made getting one-on-one opportunities in the post even more difficult for Edey.

UConn played outstanding team basketball with 18 assists and four starters scoring in double digits. Guard Tristen Newton had another terrific performance, leading his team with 20 points and dishing out 7 assists. Guard Stephon Castle also played an excellent game with 15 points of his own. Center Donovan Clingan did his job with 11 points and 5 rebounds, and with help from forward Samson Johnson, they also disrupted and made it difficult for Edey. Cam Spencer played an impressive game; his 11 points and 8 rebounds do not fully display his impact. Spencer was all over the court in the second half, fighting for every fifty-fifty ball and deflecting each pass that came his way. UConn’s superb team basketball and championship defense were too much for Purdue, who could not get any game-changing contributors other than Zach Edey. The Huskies would lead by as many as 18 and win the National Championship game 75-60.

Purdue had a phenomenal season led by their back-to-back player of the year, Zach Edey, reaching their first championship game since 1969 and redeeming themselves after losing to a 16 seed a year ago. Zach Edey had an impressive college career, breaking many records and giving Purdue’s program much life and hope in recent years. However, a single great player can’t win a championship in a team sport at any level. The strongest and best team is usually the one that ultimately comes out on top.

UConn’s Sovereignty

The UConn Huskies, the number one overall seed in the tournament, proved why they were seeded as such in each game. Having the highest point differential in the history of the tournament, UConn did what they needed to do to win each time they played. Whether it was locking in on defense, playing at a faster pace, slowing the pace down, or just playing their brand of basketball, they executed the strategy perfectly. Much credit is given to Dan Hurley for picking the correct game plan and motivating his team with confidence and poise.

This is UConn’s sixth National Championship and first back-to-back in program history. The Huskies become the eighth team with back-to-back titles and the first since 2007. Winning the National Championship is fantastic and huge, but a team accomplishes that every year. To win the Championship two years in a row is extremely difficult and will always be referred to and remembered. The tournament is very mentally and physically draining. The focus and dedication it takes to win is extensive. With how college teams are set up, achieving this triumph back-to-back is highly challenging, which is why only eight teams have been able to do so. The 2024 UConn basketball team was historic, and their preeminence was felt throughout the season. It will be interesting to see how the transfer portal plays out and what the Huskies look like next year; after all, the only thing better than a back-to-back is a threepeat.

The NCAA Tournament’s Importance

March Madness and the NCAA Tournament exemplify all the qualities and attributes that make sports extraordinarily unique and special. The X’s and O’s and different strategies within the game of basketball can be very complicated, but at the end of the day, basketball is a kid’s game. March Madness never fails to demonstrate this childlike happiness from playing and watching basketball. The opportunity to have “One Shining Moment” to showcase all your hard work and talent is not always given to everyone. It is rare for people to witness others who have “reached deep inside” because they “knew they were alive,” but the tournament puts this on full display. Knowing this, players cherish these unbelievable moments because “in the blink of an eye ah, that moment’s gone,” and it is indeed portrayed in the emotion and intensity they play with. On any given night, the impossible becomes possible, and something breathtaking takes place.

March Madness largely encompasses the one element of all sports that makes them unlike anything else. In a short amount of time, a large amount of people are immediately impacted by the absolute joy of victory and the agony of defeat. One singular outcome creates polar-opposite emotions for so many, something not many things can accomplish. The last wonderful thing about the NCAA Tournament is that it will all happen again next March. Teams and players who lost or didn’t reach the tournament are given the opportunity for redemption and can compete and do better next year. The hardships and difficulties that people overcome are what make the moment when they succeed so magnificent and incredible. Till next year, March, all will await the Madness and magnificence you provide.