Looking Back at the Tournament
For three weeks every year the NCAA Tournament dominates the sports world. This year the final game had to share the spotlight with baseball’s opening day, but for the most part it was all we cared about. Taking a look back at some of the games, here are some tournament thoughts.
- The Big Ten did, well, okay. Ohio State and Illinois were upset in the first round and Minnesota lost to Texas, but Michigan and Wisconsin pulled first round upsets of ACC teams, Purdue made the Sweet 16 and Michigan State rolled all the way to the final game, beating two 1-seeds from the Big East.
- In retrospect, the exclusion of teams like St. Mary’s and Creighton does not sit well with me. Sure, Arizona and Maryland both won games, but those mid-majors, along with San Diego State, deserved a shot. That combined with the lack of upsets really made this tournament a step below some others in recent memory.
- Who were the Cinderellas this year? As much as it sucks for Illinois, Western Kentucky took on the role again, beating the Illini in the first round, then taking Gonzaga to the brink behind the shooting of Mendez-Valdez. Cleveland State, Siena, and Dayton all won first round games, but I’d say Siena was the closest to Cinderella status after their close game with Louisville in the second round.
- Pitt was pretty bad again this year. Every year I think it will be the one where they turn it around and play well in the tournament, but it never happens. Oh, and Memphis: HA! Maybe if they played anyone with a pulse after January they would be a little better prepared in the tournament.
- North Carolina was absolutely amazing in the tournament. Their closest game was a 12-point win against Oklahoma that wasn’t really that close. Their biggest scare came against LSU in the second round when they were down by three with 12 minutes to go and tied with just over 8 minutes left, then Ty Lawson decided enough was enough scoring 21 of his 23 points in that second half. Every one of their starters was a key factor or the go-to-guy at some point in the tourney. I heard Dean Smith say that the single elimination tournament isn’t the best way to decide a champion, but in this case the best team definitely won it.
One good thing about the end of the college basketball season is that it isn’t one of those sports that leaves you with nothing interesting to watch when it’s over. We have the playoffs coming up for the NHL and NBA, with MLB season just getting started, so even Pirates fans have something to cheer for at least for a couple of weeks.