The 2018-19 regular season of NCAA Division I basketball has shaped up to be another season of upsets, excellent individual shooting performances and moments bigger than basketball itself.
In the midst of NFL and College Football season, basketball season started on November 6th, as true basketball fans looked forward to both conference and non-conference games. From upsets to dominating performances, here are some of the highlights from the 2018-19 college basketball season.
The Big Hitters: Top Ranked Teams See Victory, Upsets and Broken Nike’s
The Champions Classic took place on the opening night of the season and featured then No. 2 ranked Kentucky and one of the biggest names in the sport, Duke. But Duke (the underdog at the time, now ranked No.1 in the nation) outscored Kentucky 59-42 each half, finishing with an easy upset win 118-84.
In the second week of the season, we watched the 2018 championship rematch between Michigan, and Villanova. A Noah user and ranked No. 18 in the country at the time, the Wolverines blew out the then ranked No. 8 Wildcats 73-46, feeding off the adrenaline of guard Charles Matthews and forward Ignas Brazdeikis. The two Wolverines scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, while the Wildcats leading scorer, Eric Paschall, scored 10.
Noah Basketball user, Virginia hasn’t seen any upsets this season, but has consistently defeated top 25 teams in close games. On February 11th, Devon Hall led his team to a 61-49 win over the then ranked No. 12 UNC. Tar Heel Joel Berry II fought back with 17 points and 8 rebounds to one-up Hall in each statistic, but UNC couldn’t match the contribution from the Cavaliers’ other four starters and bench. In that game, UVA shot 45.3% from the short field versus UNC’s 29.6% performance.
In a tale of two halves, No. 3 Virginia came back from a 10-point deficit after the first half to outscore No. 18 Louisville 35-15 in the second half and come out on top on February 23rd. Virginia sent Louisville home with their 5th loss in 7 games.
In a game that consistently draws an audience of over 4 million, including former President Barack Obama, No. 8 UNC upset No. 1 Duke after Zion Williamson ripped through his shoe and suffered a mild knee sprain only 33 seconds into the game on February 20th. However, UNC can’t completely credit their win to Williamson’s absence, as the Blue Devils have consistently been a great team with or without their star freshman forward, defeating Syracuse, Florida State and Virginia at less than 100%. It was an evenly matched game with outstanding performances from UNC seniors Luke Maye (30 points) and Cameron Johnson (26 points) and Duke’s R.J Barrett (33 points) and Cam Reddish (27 points), as Tar Heels h upset Duke 88-72.
Incredible Stories: When Basketball Becomes More Than a Game
In addition to the big stage and highly anticipated matchups, this season also brought some unforgettable moments that remind us of the power of basketball beyond the court. An earlier blog of our's describes the bigger-than-basketball moment from Minnesota’s Dupree McBrayer when he fought back tears after hitting a 3-pointer that would ultimately lead his team’s upset over Nebraska, just a day after he lost his mother to cancer. When McBrayer fouled out with 1:17 left in the game, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, fueling the momentum for Minnesota as they finished with an 85-78 victory. McBrayer played for 34 minutes in what might have been the toughest game of his life.
During the 2018 March Madness tournament, Loyola-Chicago was fueled by their star fan, Sister Jean Delores Schmidt. After decades of fanship, she finally got to witness her team make a Final Four run in her 98th year. Sister Jean offered comfort, prayer and a competitive edge for Loyola as their fought their way through last year’s tournament, and in February 2019, appeared in a Super Bowl commercial, having braved the sub-arctic temperatures at the end of January to make it to one of their games! While the outlook for the Rambler’s chances at a 2019 tournament spot isn’t bright, Sister Jean’s loyalty and excitement for Loyola-Chicago adds a dimension to the game of basketball that goes beyond statistical performances.
A Look Ahead: March is On the Horizon
The ACC and Big Ten conferences continue to dominate college basketball with 256 and 236 wins, respectively. Not far behind is the SEC with 229 wins and two teams in the top five. The next few weeks will present opportunities for several on-the-fence-teams to earn themselves a spot in the tournament, even teams who end up under .500, according to ESPN’s Bubble Watch.
With the predicted return of the future #1 overall NBA draft-pick Zion William, 2019 NCAA tournament will be worth watching, and, like every other year, will live up to its name, March Madness.
We will continue to follow and cover the college basketball postseason on the Noah Arc Blog. Noah Basketball’s technology is for shooters at every level. Request a webinar now to learn more about how this technology can help make you make more shots to win more games.