NCAA tournament recap

12 Apr

I was going to write this on Tuesday. I was going to do that because I thought Michigan was going to win. I wasn’t surprised they lost, really, but I needed some time to decompress.

Watching a championship game in which your favorite team is playing is not very fun. It is nerve-wracking. Even when Spike Albrecht was balling and Michigan was up 12 I was nervous. That gradually transitioned to disappointment and then to depression. Being a sports fan is stupid that way.

Here are some late and unfocused thoughts. I would have had better thoughts if I had done this Tuesday. Too bad for you.


My bracket this year is the worst bracket I have ever filled out. I finished in the 13th percentile on Yahoo. Yikes.

The timeout situation is at crisis level. I know this both by watching games and by monitoring traffic to this here blog. Most of my visitors find their way here by Googling things like “tv time outs ruin ncaa basketball”. My post on this subject was also linked in a poorly-written listicle on Bleacher Report, resulting in literally dozens of pageviews. Just a matter of time until I’m shouting about sports on TV.

Another thing at crisis level is officiating. The championship game was a great basketball game. Like, a “remembered fondly for years to come” kind of great. The referees were atrocious. And not even in a “OMG they screwed Michigan I hate the refs” way. They missed a bunch of simple, obvious calls (a goaltend, a kicked ball, etc.), and their foul calls were truly bizarre. I’m on record as saying that the NCAA should adopt the NBA handchecking rule, which would make most of Louisville’s pressure defense illegal, but the times their guards were whistled for fouls felt totally arbitrary and not at all related to the amount of contact they created. The same thing in the post. People on both sides were being legitimately grabbed/struck hard from behind/put in bear hugs with no calls. Just embarrassing for everyone. I don’t want to harp on this forever, so again, here’s my one-sentence solution: Standardize the rules and put USA Basketball in charge of officials for all levels.

I know it won’t happen but I’ve had some fun the last few days fantasizing about how good Michigan will be next year if no one leaves for the NBA.

The commentary about Syracuse’s zone is interesting to me. Obviously they’re good at it, but there’s a key point that everyone misses: It’s gotten more effective over time because fewer and fewer teams run it. The fact is that in the abstract, a zone defense is almost always less successful than man-to-man. Most coaches have realized this and so hardly anyone still plays primarily in the zone. This gives Syracuse a huge advantage because they have a gimmick factor helping them that didn’t exist 20 years ago when a decent number of teams still played zone. Most teams Syracuse plays won’t face another zone team all season, and most players come to college having never played against a competently-executed zone defense. Score one for gimmick defenses, I guess.

So Minnesota hired Richard Pitino. I’ll withhold judgment, but that seems like a decision with a pretty high chance of backfiring in a serious way. Hiring someone whose main qualification is his last name is usually a bad idea. Recruiting is probably the most important thing for him, and probably the thing his name will help with the most. If he can sign Tyus Jones he’ll be off and running.

Is it just me or was there a whole new cycle of commercials in the later rounds? I don’t think I heard any father-daughter arguments about KFC bites during the Final Four. Or maybe I had just tuned them out at that point.

I feel sorry for Louisville. Sure they have a championship, but now a permanent part of their program’s lore is those ridiculous uniforms with the goofy camouflage and sleeves.

That’s sort of it, I guess. Major takeaway from this year: college basketball is awesome despite the terribleness of the NCAA and their referees.

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