Winners and losers from men’s NCAA Tournament: UConn’s dominance puts them among sport’s greats and ACC shows out for 2024

Winners and losers from men’s NCAA Tournament: UConn’s dominance puts them among sport’s greats
from Eric Smithling with YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com

UConn did it again.

The Huskies capped a dominant NCAA Tournament with a 75-60 win over Purdue in the national title game on Monday evening.

From their remarkable run to a dominant March for several bigs, the ACC’s resurgence, and a string of blowouts, here are the 2024 tournament’s winners and losers.

WINNER
UConn is a powerhouse: A dynasty is born. UConn rode a strong second half to pull away with its second consecutive national title and sixth in program history. The Huskies are the first program since the Florida Gators in 2006 and 2007 to win back-to-back titles, but if we’re comparing the two, Dan Hurley’s job with the Huskies was much more impressive.

UConn lost their two leading scorers from last year’s team but was even more dominant this season. The Huskies outscored their opponents by an average of 23.3 points in their six NCAA Tournament games. Over the past two years, UConn won each of its 12 tournament games by at least 10 points. In the one-and-done and transfer portal era, college programs undergo so much roster turnover that a dynasty shouldn’t be possible. Hurley built one anyway.

LOSER
Purdue’s three-point shooting: The Boilermakers were one of the best teams in the country from beyond the arc this season but only had two three-point attempts at halftime and finished with seven attempts (and only one make) for the game. Credit is due to UConn’s perimeter defense for limiting the number of good looks from deep, but head coach Matt Painter should have had a better game plan to get his team’s shooters open. Purdue simply had too much talent on the outside for the three-point shot to be so irrelevant to its offense.

WINNER
Big men: The title game featured a pair of excellent 7-footers in Zach Edey and Donovan Clingan. NC State’s DJ Burns captivated a national audience (and the hearts of NFL scouts). Post presences like Edey, Clingan, and Burns are less prevalent in today’s NBA as the league emphasizes stretch bigs, but the three showed that size still matters.

LOSER
Close games: One of the only problems with watching a historically dominant team such as UConn is that it can produce some less-than-dramatic results. The TBS broadcast noted that entering Monday night, the average margin of victory in the 2024 NCAA Tournament was 14.4 points, the second-largest in tournament history. UConn’s blowout championship game win was a microcosm of a tournament that ended low on intrigue.

WINNER
ACC: Considering that the first taste the country got of the ACC in the NCAA Tournament was Virginia’s ugly offensive performance against Colorado State in the First Four, it’s remarkable it was the big dance’s most impressive conference. Four ACC members (Clemson, Duke, NC State, North Carolina) reached the Sweet 16, and three (Clemson, Duke, NC State) reached the Elite Eight. If we’re the selection committee, more ACC teams are getting in the field next year.

LOSER
Mountain West: But how is the committee supposed to make room for the ACC? It can start by limiting the number of Mountain West bids. The conference had a record six teams make the NCAA Tournament, the most in Mountain West history, but it was one of two conferences (American) to finish with a losing record in March. Only San Diego State, which reached last year’s national championship game, made it past the first weekend.