Shining Stars of ‘March Madness’: The Rise of Caitlin Clark and the Thrilling NCAA Basketball Championship

Shining Stars of ‘March Madness’: The Rise of Caitlin Clark and the Thrilling NCAA Basketball Championship

[The Epoch Times, April 17, 2024](Written by English Epoch Times columnist Mark Hendrickson/Compiled by Xinyu) Every March, the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA Basketball Championship always sets off a frenzy. This is “March” March Madness. Even though the event always ends in April, not March, but who cares? This year’s NCAA Basketball Championship is shining like a supernova on the American sports world. All the stars have entered the ideal orbit and are emitting dazzling light.

Both the men’s and women’s championships were classics. The women’s tournament broke television ratings records, driven by the surge in popularity of Iowa Hawkeyes star guard Caitlin Clark. The ratings for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes’ last three games exceeded every game in the World Series and the 2023 NBA Finals. Get out of the way, professionals, and make room for the new media darlings of the sports world!

The Kaitlin Clark phenomenon is the biggest news in sports so far this year. Even before the tournament’s TV ratings were at their peak, the hottest ticket in sports was the University of Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball game. Tickets sold out and were resold for many times their face value. The way Clark captured the imagination of American sports fans is rare. It’s reminiscent of how the legendary racehorse Secretariat won the hearts of millions in 1973. Along with Secretariat’s winning records in the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, Clark also set a series of records. Many of these records may stand for a long time.

Clark is the all-time leading scorer in college basketball, both men’s and women’s, and the all-time leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament, both men’s and women’s. She made the most three-pointers among college players, and her wonderful long-range shots amazed the audience and were matched by only a few NBA stars.

Clark is more than just a pitcher, though. She also holds the career assist record in the Big Ten Basketball League in the United States, using wonderful passes to create opportunities for teammates to lay up. Clark’s performance has boosted interest in women’s basketball to unprecedented levels. What are the long-term effects? Sports spectators are looking forward to it.

Caitlin Clark’s star power has understandably attracted a lot of media attention. Beyond that, however, this year’s competition is also full of moving storylines. “March Madness” usually presents a fascinating and eye-catching “Cinderella” story, that is, a lower-ranked team reverses a higher-ranked team and advances to the top 16 in fairy-tale fashion, and even occasionally advances to the quarterfinals or four. powerful. However, this year’s situation is not just that. The trend of the game is unexpected. The biggest surprise may be that the North Carolina State University (NC State) men’s team unexpectedly broke into the semi-finals. This also caused the men’s and women’s teams of the two universities to compete at the same time. The two universities that advanced to the semifinals were North Carolina State University and the University of Connecticut (UConn).

The teams that enter the finals are not just ordinary people. In both the men’s and women’s tournaments, the championship game features two top-seeded teams. In these two games, the opponents are either teams recognized as the best in the country based on win-loss record: the men’s team is the University of Connecticut basketball team, and the women’s team is the University of South Carolina basketball team; Teams with the best players in the country: Purdue University in Indiana has star center Zach Edey, while the University of Iowa has star guard Kaitlin Clark.

A question sports fans often ask is this: In team sports, does the best team win, or the team with the best players? In both games, the answer was “the best team.” Both the UConn men’s team and the South Carolina women’s team conducted targeted high-intensity defense against Zhou Zhihao and Clark respectively. Therefore, although the two star players scored individually, their scores were not enough to win the game. UConn and South Carolina have stronger lineups and more weapons. The better team wins.

While Caitlin Clark’s stellar performance is the most compelling individual story of the year, the best team story belongs to South Carolina. South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley not only led her team to the 10th undefeated season in NCAA women’s basketball history, but none of last year’s starting players returned. This is truly amazing! This goes to show that Coach Staley had a strong bench last year and it turns out she has a strong bench this season as well. In fact, South Carolina’s bench outscored Iowa’s bench 37-0 in the title game. South Carolina lost just one starter this offseason, which bodes well for another strong team next year.

Impressively, Coach Staley spoke highly of Caitlin Clark from the opposing camp in the post-game interview, once again shining with elegance. It is worth mentioning that it was Clark and her teammates who defeated the South Carolina team in last year’s semifinals, which prevented the South Carolina team from qualifying for the 2023 championship and missed the great opportunity to win the championship for three consecutive years, because In both 2022 and this year, they finally won the championship. Although Coach Staley must have been hurt by last year’s loss, she graciously acknowledged Clark’s greatness and thanked the star player for raising the profile of women’s basketball.

This year’s National College Women’s Basketball Championship has ended, and my biggest feeling is: One of the charms of sports is that a team and its fans will always have a chance to win the game again next year and win the championship. I am making progress, and my opponents are gearing up. One of the highlights of this year’s spring tournament is that last year’s two finalists, the winning LSU Tigers and the losing Iowa Hawkeyes, competed in the quarterfinals this year. We met again on a narrow road. This year, Iowa won, achieving revenge and redemption. However, for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, it is really a mixed bag: in last year’s semifinals, they eliminated the South Carolina team and prevented their opponents from winning consecutive championships; but in this year’s finals, they lost The South Carolina team witnessed their opponents lifting the trophy.

Now that the competition has come to an end, each team has entered the offseason reset phase: in the 2024-2025 basketball season, every team is 0-0, and they are all on the same starting line. Opportunity beckons to everyone. The hard work, preparation, planning and strategy for the next season has already begun. We currently have no way of knowing which two teams will appear in next year’s “March Madness” finals. The only thing that is certain at present is that they will work hard for this and they will be worthy of all the honors they have received.

About the Author:

Mark Hendrickson is an economist who retired from Grove City College in Pennsylvania and is still the director of the Institute for Faith & Liberty. Freedom, economic and social policy researcher. He has written extensively on topics ranging from American economic history to anonymous characters in the Bible, wealth inequality, and climate change.

Original text: The Shining Stars of ‘March Madness’ was published in the English Epoch Times.

This article only represents the author’s own views and does not necessarily reflect the position of The Epoch Times.

Editor in charge: Gao Jing#

2024-04-18 15:34:36
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