Are you a basketball fan? Even if you aren't, you might have heard whispers of something called March Madness. Just what is it? (And should you be frightened of the MADNESS?)
Have no fear. Every year in the month of March, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) puts America's 64 best college basketball teams in a tournament to be crowned the national champions. It is a huge deal in the U.S. (and for many Canadians, too) thanks to its unpredictable games. Want proof?
This year, top teams were scattered to the wind as underdogs like Loyola-Chicago and University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) scored massive upsets. UMBC actually beat Virginia—the number one team in America—in their first match. That has never happened before. Ever.
The peak of the tournament is the Final Four—the weekend featuring the semifinals and final. Last night was the men's final. In it, the Villanova Wildcats defeated the Michigan Wolverines 79–62 to win their second title in three years.
So, we're here to talk about Villanova, right?
Girls rule the (sports) world
We're talking about this year's women's NCAA tournament. Because it had everything—huge comebacks, super-close matches, the best athletes in the country, and a Final Four three nail-biting finishes that rank up there with the best around.
And one of those top athletes—maybe even the best athlete—was Arike Ogunbowale (say: ah-REE-kay oh-GUN-boh-WAH-lay) from Notre Dame.
Ogunbowale may only be 5 ft. 6 in., which is a bit short for a female basketball player. But no problem for the crafty, sharp-shooting Arike.
Playing in the semifinals last Friday night against the Connecticut Huskies (who were undefeated all season and featured 6-foot Canadian star, Kia Nurse), Ogunbowale did THIS.
Come ON! What a shot! The crowd went nuts, Notre Dame jumped for joy, and Connecticut just stood in disbelief.
Of course, Notre Dame still had to beat mighty Mississippi State (who had only lost once this year) on Sunday to win the women's title. Midway through the third quarter of the championship match, Notre Dame trailed by 15 points. Things didn't look great. Then, Ogunbowale happened. Again.
With the title on the line, seconds left, and the game tied ... well, you know ...
How does she keep doing that?
Okay, champ, back to class!
What does the future hold for Ogunbowale? Could she perhaps make the leap to the WNBA? It is one of the best women's pro leagues in the world and she clearly has big-time skills.
For now though, it's back to class! Remember, the athletes of March Madness are all in college. So she has to hit the books to complete her business degree. Besides, she seems more than happy to just bask in the glory of a thrilling win.
As she told TIME magazine about replaying the videos of her heroics: "I can’t even count how many [times I've watched it]. A lot. I keep getting tagged in the video, so I keep watching it. I’m just like, this is insane how this happened."
Yep, it sure is! Congrats, Arike and all of the Notre Dame women's basketball team. We can't wait for next year's madness!