What We Loved and Hated about March Madness

Loved


Coaching Pedigree

This year’s Tournament embodied the value of legendary coaches in college basketball. So many of the brightest coaches in the business showcased their expertise throughout the Tournament, and the coaching pedigree on display in the Final Four gave the impression of a stroll through the coaching Hall of Fame.

coach k championship

Wisconsin

The Badgers were fun! Once you get past Bo Ryan’s authoritarian sideline demeanor, Wisconsin was an entertainment circus full of fun-loving guys who laughed at themselves for their press conference fumbles, strapped on GoPros despite the ridiculous appearance, introduced the term “Cattywampus” to sports fans and performed the type of dancing moves on national television most people only dare to do by themselves in the privacy of their own home.

Justise Winslow

Watching Justise Winslow was AWESOME! He put Duke on his back and called upon an energized state of recklessly attacking determination, getting to the basket at will and abolishing any scoring attempts in his vicinity defensively. He also showed off his improved perimeter shooting and his Hardenesque footwork on his paths to the rim.

The New Royal Family

ron hunter

Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter and his son, RJ Hunter, enraptured basketball fans across the country. Ron’s celebratory exaltations and stool-spinning act was one of the best one-man shows of the Tournament and it only lasted for a weekend. Even in his Tournament exit, the country adored Ron after he broke down when talking about RJ, who delivered arguably the best dagger of the Tournament from anyone not named Sam.

Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

This was the game of the tournament in which Jerian Grant’s double-clutch heave seemed to hang in the air for an eternity before it missed long allowing the Wildcats to continue their undefeated march. Mike Brey’s offense was electric, repeatedly knifing through the once-invincible Kentucky defense for uncontested scores. UK’s collection of star talents responded to Notre Dame’s challenge, rising to the occasion during the game’s pinnacle moments to stave off the upset.

Travis Trice

travis trice

This kid is fearless. Trice was terrific throughout the Tournament, and his mandate to have the ball in his hands during the biggest moments of every Spartan upset was one of my favorite aspects of the Tournament. Trice didn’t have elite athleticism or a signature skill that allowed him to thrive during the Tournament, it was as if he just simply refused to let his collegiate career end and was rewarded with a magical tourney run.

Joseph Young

Mighty Joe Young put on a scoring clinic in the Tournament, hoisting stepback jumpers that left defenders helpless and squirting through tiny crevices before finishing at the rim. The only problem was it ended too soon.

Evan Wessel

The Wichita State guard/forward may not be a well-known dude, but his hustle, scrappiness and effort are off the charts. Wessel diving for loose balls, wrestling for jump balls and tussling for rebounds is more entertaining than a slam-dunk contest. Seriously, if you don’t respect how Evan Wessel plays basketball, there is something wrong with you.

Matt Stainbrook

The Church of Stainbrook which praises lumberjack-looking Uber drivers who play D-I basketball when they appear more suited for the local Y gained many followers during Xavier’s tourney run. The goggled big man won over the hearts of America by bullying opponents in the paint with his crafty post work and doughy physique which resembled the Marshmallow Man. Long live the Church of Stainbrook!

stainbrook

The Elite Eight and Onward

The National Championship was a heavyweight bout, the Final Four offered the signature moment of the Tournament and the Elite Eight featured a legendary showdown. The games from the Elite Eight through the Championship were incredible.

Bill Raftery’s Commentating

Why this was the first Final Four Raftery has commentated is perplexing, but his enthusiasm, energy and of course, his catch phrases really enhanced the Tournament experience. Raftery is perfect for the Tournament, bringing years of history combined with the liveliness college fans can relate to.

Hated


Officiating

officials

The only justifiable explanation for the officiating throughout the Tournament was that the officials mistook the nickname “March Madness” in a literal sense and thought the term was an order to instill actual rage in fans and viewers. The officiating was ridiculously incompetent, lacking any sort of defined consistency. Blatant black-and-white (meaning not subjective) calls were repeatedly missed, and-ones were called in instances that lacked any actual contact from defenders, offensive players were rewarded with free throws for launching their flailing bodies into the chest of straightly-aligned defenders and block-charge calls were deemed a lost cause on the first day of the Tournament. It was as if the officials had no knowledge concerning the rules of basketball and instead blew their whistles any time game action lasted for more than 30 seconds without a clock stoppage.

Commercials

The commercials sucked. It didn’t matter in the first few rounds. In fact, I didn’t even notice because when whichever game you’re watching goes to a commercial break, you just switch to new one and keep watching the great game of basketball. However, after the Sweet 16, the obnoxious Samuel L. Jackson exclaiming the presence of the previously though-to-be Barles Charkley and Mars Blackman, the girl telling her dad’s friend an unrealistic amount of knowledge about car insurance for a high schooler and the excruciatingly bad acting of Reggie Miller and Steve Smith as they talk about the Amazon Fire HD were all unfortunately unavoidable. At least there was one good commercial with the guy that tries to fold the fitted sheet.

Traevon Jackson

When Duke won the National Championship, I’m surprised Jackson didn’t go grab the ball and start dribbling around the court during the trophy presentation just because he likes dribbling so much. STOP DRIBBLING AND PASS THE DAMN BALL!!!

The Selection Committee

The Tournament was so fantastic and Selection Sunday was so long ago, my frustrations and anger over the committee has dissipated. Oh wait, no it hasn’t because we should’ve seen Arizona vs Wisconsin in the Final Four, not the Elite Eight. Then we could’ve seen the matchup between Duke and UK everyone wanted and still had Duke and Wisconsin battle it out for the Championship.

The Hatred of Kentucky

uk loses

I wasn’t rooting for UK to go undefeated, but I wasn’t hardcore rooting against it either, but it made me sick when so many people took such delight in the failure of a group of college kids. None of Kentucky’s players did anything wrong (no arrests, no academic issues, no frowned-upon comments[1] or actions). They were disliked simply because they were good, which is fine, but we should rise above excessively mocking and celebrating the failure of these kids.

Bracket Obsessions

These are the people who really get under my skin. Filling out brackets is fun and it’s interesting to see how yours turns out, but these people who get pissed because UAB or Georgia State pulled a huge Round of 64 upset and turned their bracket to shit, don’t understand the glory of March Madness. Your bracket isn’t going to end up being perfect so stop thinking it is on the first day of the Tournament, and root for the freaking upset!

The End

The end of the Tournament is a brutal and emotional realization. After One Shining Moment ends and it hits you that college basketball season is over, it’s almost too much to handle.

[1] Andrew Harrison’s postgame comments would certainly classify as a frowned-upon and inappropriate comment, but it came after everyone celebrated UK’s defeat.

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