Every year, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament captures the attention of die-hard and casual fans alike. This year, the tournament has a Chicago-centric feel, as there have been a pair of game-winning shots from former CPS athletes. One heroic shot helped an elite program avoid a huge upset, and the other caused one.
Loyola-Chicago pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far, knocking off sixth-seeded Miami (FL). The teams played each other even in the first half, tied 28-28. And the game continued to have a back-and-forth flow throughout the second half as well. After a costly missed free throw by Miami, the stage was set for a dramatic shot. Loyola rushed the ball down the floor, and as the clocked winded down, senior Donte Ingram calmly drained a 3-pointer from NBA-range.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs lost to North Carolina in last year’s National Title game, and are extremely focused on trying to avenge last year’s heartbreak. The Bulldogs played poorly against an overmatched UNC Greensboro team, but were able to escape with a narrow victory. Gonzaga was outscored 41-36 in the second half, but were much more physical, getting to the free throw line often. And as with less than 30 seconds left and the game on the line, Gonazaga head coach Mark Few trusted the freshman out of Chicago to take the shot to seal the victory.
Both Norvell and Ingram went to Simeon and played for legendary head coach Robert Smith. Ingram has stayed for all four years of college, and success is nothing new to him, as he won a 4A State Championship in his junior year at Simeon. Norvell was a highly ranked recruit, averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists his senior season. This pair of Simeon graduates created two of the most memorable moments in this year’s tournament. And with the city of Chicago supporting Norvell and Ingram every step of the way, I fully expect them to create more March madness memories as they inch ever closer to winning the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball championship.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Zach Norvell and the 4th Gonzaga Bulldogs take on 9th seeded Florida State. Donte Ingram and Loyola-Chicago take on 7th seeded Nevada. Both games take place on Thursday, March 22nd.
By Michael Walton II @ZenMasterMike