The 2019 NCAA Tournament marks the fourth time Minneapolis has hosted the Final Four, and they’ve certainly got it down pat.
This year’s March Madness semifinals took place on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the three-year-old home of the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL. The atmosphere inside had the feel of NFL action, as well, with fans of each school at court level shouting and cheering for every move by their star players.
The city and stadium also played host to Super Bowl LII in February 2018.
The Monmouth University Bench Mob captured the hearts of basketball fans everywhere back in 2015. Their perfectly choreographed reactions to the most exciting moments on the court quickly went viral on social media — and even landed them on ESPN.
As is the nature of college, members of that famous 2015-16 group have now graduated and moved on. But, thanks to Degree, they’re making a resurgence during this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Former Bench Mob stars Dan Pillari (’18) and Greg Noack (’17) have returned to their craft, creating unique reactions to the most exciting moments throughout March Madness 2019.
March and basketball go together like cheese and bacon, and no one knows that fact better than legendary coach-turned-sportscaster Dick Vitale.
March Madness officially kicked off on Sunday night when the full tournament bracket was revealed. The First Four play-in games will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday before the true madness begins with the round of 64 starting on Thursday.
Vitale, who has been calling basketball games for 40 years, teamed up with Bountyto make sure fans are prepared for their tourney parties – with some crowd-pleasing bites, of course.
When it comes to tournament action, Vitale has a few specific storylines he’ll be watching over the next few weeks. Most notably, he’s picked out some teams that have faced recent hardships or tough losses – or star players with some shoe problems – to keep an eye on.
Duke Blue Devils freshman phenom Zion Williamson is all but guaranteed to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft whenever he declares.
Many are calling for the young star to leave college after this year and enter the pros, especially after a freak shoe mishap put Williamson at risk for serious injury – but he luckily walked away with just a mild knee sprain, and was able to return to the court just ahead of the NCAA tournament.
NBA players slammed the NCAA after Williamson’s injury and demanded change at the college level. Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz called for players to start getting paid. Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks advised Williamson to sit out the rest of the season, and the Denver Nuggets’ Isaiah Thomas echoed that sentimentwhile also suggesting Williamson turn pro as soon as possible.
Legendary sportscaster Dick Vitale, however, doesn’t think Williamson’s work is done at Duke.
“He loves being a college student,” Vitale told AOL.com on behalf of Bounty. “Why shouldn’t he play at college?”
If you’ve ever watched the Elite Eight round or championship game of March Madness, you’ve witnessed one of the most storied traditions in all of sports — the cutting of the net.
The champion of each region, and ultimately the champion of the entire tournament, gets to partake in the ritual of cutting the net away from the sport’s iconic orange hoop so players can take a piece of history home with them.
But who came up with that idea?
Dramatic finishes in the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds have four regional champions facing off in a historic Final Four the NCAA Tournament has yet to see in years.
Those four teams — Oregon from the Midwest, North Carolina from the South, Gonzaga from the West and South Carolina from the East — will now compete for the chance to play in the NCAA Championship on April 3 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Out of these finalists, North Carolina is the only team to have made it this far in the past 78 years. In fact, the Tar Heels were in the NCAA Championship just last year — though they lost a heartbreaker to Villanova.
Oregon’s last appearance in the Final Four was in 1939, the only year the Ducks went on to win the title. South Carolina and Gonzaga have never made an appearance in this nail-biting round of college basketball in the history of the tournament.
Ivy League universities seem to have it all. They each have a rich academic history, incredibly talented students, respected staff and faculty strong reputations. Their esteemed names are recognized worldwide, and for good reason.
Thankfully, there’s one area in which the Ivy League falls short and we mere mortals can take some solace: March Madness.
Some argue the prestige of the Ivy League comes to a screeching halt when the NCAA tournament comes into play. It’s not just that several of the schools have never won the championship, but they remain winless in the most painful of ways — by not even making the tournament for decades at a time.
Think of the pain of the Chicago Cubs who, until last year, had not won a championship in 108 years. No team in March Madness has a streak quite that painful, since the competition itself is only 78 years old, but the iconic Ivies of Harvard, Dartmouth and Yale rank as the top three tournament droughts with some impressive — or disappointing — numbers.
Everybody loves a Cinderella story.
Seasoned March Madness fans know to have at least a few upsets in their bracket. It’s generally safe to pick them early on — a 10 seed over the 7, the occasional 12 seed over a 5 — but as the tournament goes on, those selections become riskier and riskier.
Sometimes, those risks pay off and get you an extra few points in your bracket. Once in a blue moon (read: once in history) an 8-seed wins the whole darn thing and the gamble really pays off.
Even those who don’t follow college basketball recognize the big names: Kentucky. Duke. North Carolina. Connecticut. They’re the well-known teams that consistently headline March Madness — and they’re generally a safe bet to pick as a champion in your brackets.
Someone has to be the best, though. In both the men’s and women’s tournament, 11 titles are enough to reign supreme as the most successful schools in the sport’s history.
Enter: the UCLA Bruins and the UConn Huskies.