In anticipation of the NCAA Final Four games taking place in Houston this weekend, today’s 2 Cent Tuesday Sports Blog recaps my favorite tournament action and compelling story lines from this year’s exciting March Madness event.
Here are my top 10 observations from another unpredictable, wildly entertaining college basketball championship that has once again mesmerized sports fans.
Top 10 NCAA March Madness Observations
10. The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks – would have loved more of this gritty and smart underdog with the cool nickname, “Duck Dynasty” bearded star player and only school in the tournament that proudly sports an initial in its school name. They were fun to watch.
9. The Best Buzzer Beater – Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig improbable, last second three point shot from the corner over the outstretched arms of a long Xavier defender to advance his Badgers into the next round of the tournament over the favored Musketeers is tough to top as the event’s best finish.
8. The Yale Bulldogs – the Ivy League Champion enjoyed its first Big Dance appearance since 1962 and upset the bigger and more talented Baylor Bears in the first round for the elite academic school’s first ever NCAA tournament win. Curious how hard they were partying at the campus’ secretive Skull and Bones Society.
7. University of Louisville’s Rick Pitino – who misses seeing this slick coach roaming the sidelines during the tournament and addressing, or should I say, pontificating to the media? Definitely not me! The Cardinals self-imposed ban stemming from the program’s “escorts for recruits” scandal relegated Pitino to watching as a spectator.
6. UNC Tar Heels – even if you’re a Duke or NC State fan, you’ve got to admire these Heels. They’re just good! However, the silence has been deafening surrounding the NCAA’s pending release of its lengthy investigation surrounding academic fraud at UNC especially among former North Carolina players. Expect more to come soon on this story.
5. ACC dominance – of seven schools with bids to the Big Dance only the Pitt Panthers failed to advance to the Sweet 16. What a testament to an incredibly talented, prepared and successful conference that will soon be flush with more cash ($30 million to be exact) for its members’ NCAA tournament success.
4. School Nicknames – the nicknames, and corresponding history, of lesser known schools always intrigues me. In addition to the previously mentioned Musketeers from Xavier and Lumberjacks from Stephen A. Austin, this year’s best were the South Dakota State Jackrabitts, the Austin Peay Governors and the Bakersfield State Roadrunners.
3. Studio Coverage – Brett Gumble does an admirable job, while Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith add excellent insight. However, my NBA on TNT favorite commentator Sir Charles Barkley seems at of sorts covering the college game. The best of Chuck we’ve seen during the tourney has been in his humorous Discover Card commercials.
2. Syracuse – maybe the only thing close to a March Madness Cinderalla this year. Not expected to make the tourney, the Cuse’s coach Jim Boeheim was even suspended for 9 games early in the season. Plus, questionable losses could have kept them out of the tourney. But, their resilience and unquestionable talent have rightfully earned them a spot in this weekend’s Final Four.
1. The NCAA Tournament Period – whenever we think that a tournament can’t be better the following year, the next year’s Big Dance, as evidenced in 2016, defies all logic by providing amazing comeback classics and unpredictable finishes while once again mesmerizing basketball fans.
So, NCAA, please don’t ever stop the madness.
And, that’s my 2 cents.
MIKE on Sports!