“March Madnerss in April”
It comes to an end on Monday night, the wildest college basketball season we have seen, maybe ever.
The matchup of of a Catholic school from Philadelphia and the team from the football school in Ann Arbor.
Villanova, with lots of home grown talent from the Northeast. Michigan, with no five start recruits, and as center from Germany.
Jay Wright, one of the best coaches in the country, with very little national recognition, and the reason Villanova is always in the national picture..
John Beilein,, a demanding teacher snd leader, has quietly made the Wolverines a force in the conference, and nationally.
We went thru 10-different teams that were ranked number one in the polls during the course of the regular season. The competitive balance in the game is the end result of the one-and-done rule, with so many players filing for the NBA draft after one season in college basketball.
The turnover rate of rosters causes enormous challenges for coaches, and there’s no guarantee you can last a season, or even a tourney, because team play is so unsteady.
This tourney goes down in history for the Cinderella run of Loyola-of-Chicago, who did more (get to the Final 4) with less, (no McDonald’s All Americans). The storyline will be about Sister Jean, the 98-year old nun, and their emotional leader.
This tourney will be about tiny Maryland-Baltimore County, the UMBC Pointers, who ambushed the top seed Virginia Cavaliers in the opening game of the tourney. We had never seen a 16th seed beat a one seed, ever.
This tourney will be about the elimination of Duke, and it’s 6’11 center Marvin Bagley, the likely first pick in the upcoming draft, showing that ‘team’ is more important than individual talent.
Saturday’s semifinal games were blowouts.
Villanova jumped to a (22-4) lead, and never let up, destroying the Kansas Jayhawks. All you needed to know was the glazed look on the eyes of shellshocked Jayhawks coach Bill Self.
The Loyola-Michigan game looked like a recreation of the movie ‘Hoosiers’, five passes then take a shot, take it to the basket. The Ramblers had that lead, but then Michigan went old-school, using defense to change the entire game. A (12-0) run by the Maize & Blue, turned into a (32-12) scoring spurt. Loyola went 9-possessions without a basket, and it was over.
There were tears in the eyes of the Loyola players on the bench in the final minutes, realizing it was midnight for their team and the wheels had come off the coach.
The championship game should be wild. Nova firepower, they do shoot lots of threes, vs the UM grit-grime style of play.
You might not see something equivalent to the Larry Birdy-Magic Johnson matchup. You might not see a Christian Laetener turn-around jumper with a half-second to go in the game. You might not see anything equal to the upset of Georgetown years ago, or something equivalent to North Carolina State’s Jim Valvano running on the floor after a stunning Wolfpack last second win in the title game.
But you could still see something stunning. because this is the NCAA finals, and this is March Madness in April.