COMMENTARY: NCAA tourneys filled with all-time greatness


Photo by Phil Roeder, distributed under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license,via Wikimedia Commons

Paul Capoccia , Asst. Sports Editor

All-time great.

The term that many critics and viewers around the nation used to describe everything from the UConn Women’s incredible run to their fourth consecutive championship to the two-for-one great finish of the Men’s final between Villanova and North Carolina.

While I typically try to avoid such hyperbole when describing games on the spot, these tournaments really provided all-time greatness.

The UConn Women are on a run the sport has not seen since the John Wooden coaching days at UCLA in the pre-March Madness era, and Breanna Stewart is simply unstoppable. Stewart is arguably the best college women’s basketball player of all-time with four championships in four years and two Wooden Awards. Even with her departure, it’s clear the team has slim chances of derailing with a deep bench, excellent players all around, and the genius of Geno Auriemma, of course.

Certainly an all-time great dynasty is playing out in front of us, and the impact it will have to inspire young girls and rising female athletes to be the next Brenna Stewart will be seen in the next decade.

Switching to the Men’s bracket, #bracketbusted was the status of practically anyone who formed a bracket other than some committed Syracuse parents.

Upsets, buzzer beaters, and even a win for Yale. The tournament had everything. It even had what’s been absent for a few years: half-decent play.

I was a part of the screaming section of NCAA fans annoyed at how abysmal play had become featuring teams filled with big, strong athletes instead of skilled basketball players. Play was slow, sloppy and unwatchable for the last few years.

Not this year.

Villanova was what many critics and fans of the NCAA alike have sought for years. They were strong and athletic, but they were still better players than athletes. They were a team comprised of experience, depth, and poise; they weren’t a one-and-done kind of team like a Kentucky or Duke. They played solid offense, excellent lockdown defense, and with a wit only a group of savvy vets could.

They brought it all, and that game winning shot by Kris Jenkins is now immortalized as one of the greatest of all-time capped it off.

Through the upsets of rounds 1 and 2 to the final five seconds that provided not one but two of the greatest shots in tournament history, this March Madness was not only watchable but must-watch television.

Sure, Final Four night was relatively weak, and playing basketball in a football stadium for the cash of tickets is still a travesty (thank you, Mike Greenberg), but otherwise, this tournament was incredible.

Call me a bandwagonner, but other than a select few tournaments and games out of the 80s, this tournament provided all-time greatness.

Duke leads the ridiculously early preseason rankings for next year; here’s hoping for another year that goes down to the final seconds. Twice.

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