The 2015/16 college basketball season is over, and for those die-hard fans of the sport, it is too soon. The men played their national championship on Monday in Houston, and it was PHENOMENAL! The women played a day later in Indianapolis, and it was NOT PHENOMENAL! All I can say is what a difference day makes.
Villanova was a #2 seed in the South bracket, and North Carolina was the #1 seed in the East. Both teams had been ranked #1 for stretches of the regular season, so they were certainly not long-shots to appear in the final game. As for the game, it was in a word AMAZING! It was so good, in fact, that I believe Hollywood would have rejected a script of it were it sent to them. This one had everything a “sports fan” craves: big-time players, coaches, intensity, drama, famous alumni in the crowd; did I mention drama, and above all, tremendous shot making in the game’s final minute. Do not underestimate the underlying backdrop of this being a Big East/ACC match-up, either. That the Tar Heels roared back from a 10-point deficit with under five minutes remaining speaks to their greatness. Marcus Paige’s game tying, double clutch, prayer from the outskirts of Houston will be remembered for, well, ever. It was so amazing that it even brought His Airness, Michael Jordan, to his feet for a fist pump caught by the TBS television cameras. Unfortunately for UNC, there were still 4.7 seconds remaining. Do you remember in this space one week ago, that I told you to keep your eye on Ryan Arcidiacono? I told you that with the game on the line he would make a winning play, and he did not disappoint. In fact, he made a few of them, none bigger than his speed dribble up the court and assist on Kris Jenkins game winning three-point shot. This game was so good that even the casual sports fan was talking about it Tuesday morning. The greatest championship game ever? Thank you to both teams for a wonderful evening of hoops and congratulations to the Wildcats.
One night later, Syracuse, a #4 seed, met up with Connecticut, a #1 seed (as if they would be anything else). The Orange had a terrific season; they brought a 25-7 record into the tournament. Their round three upset of #1 seed South Carolina highlighted their run and made them an unexpected participant in the national championship game. The Huskies, on the other hand, ARE the national championship game! They finished the regular season 32-0, winning those games by an average margin of 39.4 points. They did not have a single-digit margin of victory all season and wound up winning 25 of their 38 games by at least 40 points. Go ahead, read those numbers again, they are not misprints. UConn women’s basketball teams are so good that their opponents stand as much chance as those poor baby seals do against their hunters. So, with that in mind, the great Breanna Stewart and her cast of All-Americans took the floor and made quick work of the Cuse as usual. Amazingly, Syracuse went on a 16-0 run in the third quarter, and it didn’t even matter. Coach Geno Auriemma’s team claimed its 11th national championship (4th in a row), winning by 31 points. Wow, with that program, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In conclusion, we had one tremendous game that went down to the very last second of the last possession, followed by one that was competitive for just a second. One out of two ain’t bad I guess. And that is My 2 Sense for this week.