It seemed liked a long time ago, but just 3 weeks ago, 68 teams were selected to participate in arguably the biggest sporting event in this country besides the Super Bowl. Now, just 4 teams are left. The tournament so far has been nothing short of spectacular; several of the games have gone down to the wire and just one top seeded team remains alive. Most people had Florida going to the final four and many had Wisconsin, but UConn and Kentucky? If you picked all 4 of these teams to reach the final four, I take my hat off to you. I need your luck the next time I go buy a powerball ticket. You will be sitting pretty good in your office pool with just a few of those teams remaining. I have watched a lot of the action and have come up with a few observations about the tournament.
1. Best game- 2 games really stand out in my mind; the Wichita State, Kentucky game was unforgettable, but my favorite was the Michigan, Kentucky game last Sunday. Both teams went back and forth with the lead and in the end, it took a great shot by Kentucky player to win the game. It was a shame that either team had to lose. One of the best college basketball games of not only the tournament, but of the whole season as well.
2. Most memorable moment- Near the end of the Kansas, Dayton game, it appeared that Kansas was going to lose and get bounced out of the tournament. The television camera panned in on some of the Kansas fans and their expressions said it all. Many had long and sad faces, but the one shot that really caught my attention was the close up of a young Kansas fan, perhaps only 8 years old. The tears were flowing down his cheeks. It was really amazing to see such passion from such a young fan! That shot really illustrates the passion that fans have for their teams in this tournament. There is nothing worse than losing a tournament game when your team is heavily favorite. It will be a long off-season for those Kansas fans and especially that young boy.
3. Great television coverage- It was just a few years that only one network carried any of the games. That changed with multiple networks now carrying the games. If some game is a blowout, you can always change channels and be entertained by another game. The variety was outstanding. Whoever came up with this idea needs to be commended! A tournament this big deserves to have better television coverage and that definitely happened this year. The studio analysts were pretty good as well, providing you can put up with Charles Barkley for a few minutes!
4. Bracket Buster award- I give this award to 2 teams, Dayton and UConn. The moans and groans that you may have heard last Sunday was when UConn upset Michigan St. to go to the final four. About half of all people with a bracket including this blogger, had Michigan St. advancing to the final four. I even had Michigan St. winning the whole tournament! My bracket is crumpled up in some waste basket ready to be burned!
5. Freshmen Myth- There is always this myth about not picking a team with a bunch of freshman to advance very far. I think Kentucky has pretty much shattered that myth. Freshmen are no longer freshman at the end of the year. Kentucky really grew up this year and look at where they are now! Any team regardless of age can go a long way if they have the right mix of talent and coaching.
I fully expect Florida and Kentucky to end up meeting in the finals on Monday night, but any of the teams could easily walk away with the trophy on Monday night. The parity in college basketball is at an all time high and that is why this tournament has been such a special one. I look for more exciting games and moments to come in this final four. Good luck to all the teams and their fans. I would love to be in your shoes.