Busting Brackets

Regardless of who's crowned champion, DJ Burns has won March Madness

DJ Burns has captured the imagination and hearts of nearly everyone tuning into March Madness, and it's been a refreshing thing to watch.
Mar 31, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) reacts in the
Mar 31, 2024; Dallas, TX, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) reacts in the / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

America loves to pull for the Cinderella team or underdog, especially when it comes to March Madness. Seeing upstart, unknown schools or low-seeded teams make a run at the title is a big part of why March is so much fun for sports fans.

If you add to that a gregarious, larger-than-life, talented player whose infectious personality seems to touch everyone from fans to announcers, you have the recipe for a perfect March Madness scenario.

Such has been the case with the NC State Wolfpack. A team who wasn't even supposed to be in the NCAA Tournament, only reaching it by winning five straight games in the ACC Tournament to punch their unlikely ticket. It was during this tournament that the name DJ Burns first started to become something America was paying attention to.

DJ Burns, the 6'9, 275-pound NC State player who has the build of an offensive lineman and moves like a tight end. Only he's not a football player. He's a basketball player who's as dominant in the paint as he is graceful when he moves to the basket, and he's become the darling of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

He's been described, by commentators such as fan-favorite analyst Charles Barkley as having "the game of Zach Randolph and the personality of Shaq" And that's not very far from the truth.

Burns has been the toast of the tournament, with fans from across the country rallying to NC State's cause simply because they can't help but love the grinning, spinning Burns and what he brings to every game.

The adorations seemingly never stop on social media. Fans, coaches, media members, and even those who despise NC State have been loaded on to the DJ Burns hype train and aren't jumping off anytime soon.

It never ends. Just Google DJ Burns. Search his name on X (formerly Twitter). Turn on any sports highlight show. DJ Burns will inevitably be a name you'll see and hear over and over again. It's been amazing, and to be truthful, quite refreshing to watch. A needed respite from the status quo.

And now Burns and his NC State teammates are headed to the Final Four after dispatching the Duke Blue Devils for the second time in as many weeks.

It seems surreal. The Wolfpack limped into the postseason and are now just two wins away from being crowned national champions for the first time since 1983. Even before this tournament began comparisons were being drawn to the 83 Wolfpack and this year's NC State squad.

But a lot can happen in two games. The Wolfpack are slated to meet Purdue and Zach Edey, a team and a player both on a mission to erase some bitter March memories from past seasons. It will likely be the toughest test NC State has seen this year.

But to most fans, none of that matters. If UConn, Alabama, or Purdue were to lift the trophy as national champions, it's DJ Burns Jr. who has won March Madness in 2024.

Congrats, champ.