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The Hawk Eye

The Student News Site of Charlotte Latin School

The Hawk Eye

The Student News Site of Charlotte Latin School

The Hawk Eye

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Can Anyone Beat UConn?

Donovan Clingan celebrates a dunk in the Huskies Elite Eight game against Illinois (USA Today)

The University of Connecticut Huskies are on a run of dominance the likes of which we have never seen. In their last ten NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament games, UConn is 10-0, with an average margin of victory of around twenty three points. In their most recent game, they blew out Illinois, a 3 seed, by twenty five points. TV analysts are no longer discussing whether anyone can beat UConn, the question now is can anyone even compete. With the exception of Alabama (sorry Tide fans), I believe they can. While Alabama won’t beat them, how could the other teams fare?

The team with the best chance is undoubtedly Purdue. Led by the indomitable Zach Edey, the Boilermakers are one of the few teams in the Tournament who could have an answer to Donovan Clingan.

Zach Edey sets a screen for Braden Smith in a regular season game against Davidson (Purdue Exponent)

The 7’2” Clingan has been impressive defensively, logging eight blocks against Northwestern and another five in a twenty two point performance against Illinois. Clingan has effectively been a brick wall, stopping any attempts at driving to the basket. However, Edey is taller, stronger and better than Clingan, and will shut him down on offense while giving him everything he can handle on defense. The Huskies are more than just Clingan though, with four other players averaging over ten points per game.

DJ Burns smiles his way past Duke in NC State’s Elite Eight game (Getty Images)

Purdue will have to find a way to slow down UConn’s star, Tristen Newton. Newton, a senior guard from El Paso, Texas, averages fifteen points per game, and is the captain of the Huskies’ offense. Thankfully for the Boilermakers, they are more than just Edey. Sophomore Braden Smith can take over games when his shot is on, and he also shoots over 40% from three. If his shot is falling, the inside-outside combo of Smith and Edey is practically unstoppable. It will be a tough matchup, and Edey will have to play his best, but if the Boilermakers play well enough, I see no reason why they can’t take down the defending champs.

While Purdue may have the better chance, the team with the most momentum rolling into the Final Four is the NC State Wolfpack. The Wolfpack needed to win the ACC tournament to even make it to March, and now that they’re here, they don’t seem to be keen on the idea of going away. NC State has now won nine games in a row on the backs of the two DJs: DJ Horne and DJ Burns. Horne led the team in scoring this year, averaging just under seventeen points per game, however it has been Burns carrying the load in the tournament, averaging over eighteen points per game and putting up twenty nine in their win against Duke in the elite eight. Burns has also captured many fans’ hearts with his huge smile and charming personality. America is backing NC State, which will be great for them as they will likely have the noise advantage at the Final Four. NC State has been shutting down opponents from beyond the arc this tournament, and if they get past Purdue, Burns could cause fits for Clingan inside with his quickness, strength, and footwork. They also have Mohamed Diarra, a ferocious rebounder who will give the Wolfpack some second chance opportunities, which will be needed against the stout UConn defense, which can completely shut down an offense. NC State will need everyone to step up to win against the Huskies, but with the way they’ve been playing, anything is possible.

Somehow, someway, the Alabama Crimson Tide have made it to the Final Four. Led by Mark Sears, the Tide play at a frantic pace, and only shoot threes and layups, as according to their coach, Nate Oats, anything else is a bad shot.

Mark Sears shushes the crowd after a huge three against Clemson (Getty Images)

If the Tide go cold they are in trouble, and they have been just sneaking by teams this whole tournament. I think their luck will run out against UConn, as the Huskies are athletic enough to run the floor with the Tide, have a great defense that can shut down the perimeter, and are much bigger inside. The Huskies are a terrible matchup for Bama, and I would not be surprised if they lose by twenty. While there’s always a chance, it will take a miracle for Alabama to pull this one off.

The Final Four this year is jam packed with storylines, from Cinderellas to powerhouses. While UConn is the obvious favorite, anything can happen in March! So sit back, relax, and watch the madness unfold.

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