Duke wins fifth national men’s basketball championship

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 24:  Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils makes a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer against the Creighton Bluejays during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Center on March 24, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 24: Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils makes a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer against the Creighton Bluejays during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Center on March 24, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Spring break is synonymous with March Madness. The sprawling basketball tournament where 68 teams battle, where you win the game or go home, enthralls millions every year. It is a time when people stop working, students stop studying, and there are bracket pools betting on the outcomes of the games or for the perfect bracket. This year was no different; many storylines intrigued sport fans from coast to coast.

The tournament’s opening rounds is where basketball royalty–the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, the Kansas Jayhawks, and the Duke Blue Devils–face off against the “Cinderellas,” the little guys trying to make it big in the tournament. The Albany Great Danes (whose logo looks suspiciously like Scooby-Doo), the Buffalo Bills, and the UC Irvine Anteaters are examples of these “Cinderellas.” Some notable upsets were two 14 seeds taking down three seeds. The University of Alabama-Birmingham took down Iowa State, and Georgia State took down Baylor, both by one point. Top-seeded Villanova and the second-seeded Virginia both were eliminated prematurely. Other than that, the giants of college basketball rolled. Undefeated Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, and Arizona, all made it to the “Sweet 16.”

The final 16 teams in the tournament were mostly heavily-favored teams, but a couple of “bracket busting” outsiders emerged. Eleventh-seeded UCLA, a team many thought should not even be in the tournament, defeated SMU and UAB in the opening rounds. However, UCLA could not keep the momentum, and lost to Gonzaga. Another more durable outsider, seventh-seeded Michigan State, was on a warpath, and had already beaten both Georgia and Virginia. Then the Spartans downed Oklahoma in the Sweet 16.

Soon, the huge 64-team tournament had narrowed its scope down to four teams. Three of these teams were top seeded: Duke, fueled by freshman Jahlil Okafor; Wisconsin, a solid team that took care of business; Kentucky, who was riding a 38-game win streak, and finally the previously mentioned Michigan State, was the tournament’s last “Cinderella.”  It was in this round where the unbeatable Kentucky, who had just survived a scare with Notre Dame, was stopped in its tracks by Wisconsin, 71-64. Michigan State’s impressive run came to an end too as they lost 81-61 to the likes of Duke.

It all led up to the National Championship game, where the Naismith Player of the year, Frank Kaminsky, and his Wisconsin Badgers took on the probable number one draft pick of next year’s NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor, and the Duke Blue Devils. The first half of the game was hotly contested, with a tied score at halftime 31-31. Wisconsin went up by nine after the first eight minutes of the second half, but the game turned around after Duke’s coach, Mike Krzyzewski, called a timeout. Out of the timeout, freshman guard Grayson Allen hit a three to cut Wisconsin’s lead to six. Allen then got a steal on the defensive end, and got an and-one layup to follow it up. The game was back and forth until the 4:06 mark when Tyus Jones, Duke’s freshman star point guard and the game’s Most Outstanding Player, hit a three-pointer to go up by one, 59-58. Duke never lost the lead after that point, and won the game 68-63.

Duke set the NCAA championship game record for most points scored by freshmen with 60, as all 37 of their second half points were scored by first-year players. It was Duke’s fifth national championship, every one under coach Mike Krzyzewski.