This can’t be March because there’s no Madness! Wait. I take that back. There is madness just not the right kind. The March Madness I’m missing is basketball. College and high school. I don’t care about the NBA anymore, but one of the things I look forward to each year are the tournaments. I’ve only missed a couple of Final Fours (on TV) since I watched Cincinnati beat Ohio State back in ’61 or ’62. They played in the finals both years and I can’t remember which one I saw (or if I saw both of them) I do remember watching Chicago Loyola beating Cincinnati in ’63. I guess I’m getting old.
For the first time in over a 110 years there will not be champions in boys basketball in Illinois. The girls were lucky enough to finish in time. What a shame.
To help get over the pain of not hearing One Shining Moment and watching the nets being cut, I decided to hold my own tournament. I printed a blank bracket and picked 64 teams. Sorry about not including the other four teams that have to play the early games. To make this brief, I’ll give you the highlights of how the tournament went. First the two top seeds in each region-
East – 1-Florida State 2-Maryland
Mideast* – 1- Dayton 2-Duke
Midwest – 1-Kansas 2- Baylor
West – 1-Gonzaga 2- San Diego State
Biggest upsets and highlights –
Ten Big Ten teams made the tournament and all ten won their opening round games.
Unfortunately for the Duke Blue Devils they had to face Stephen F. Austin again and lost by fifteen points in the first round. Who else saw this coming?
Also in the Mideast region, Illinois took out Dayton and made it to the elite eight.
Experience showed in the Midwest as Michigan State upset Baylor by 12 points.
Kansas reached the Midwest final easily. Their average margin of victory was 29.6 points/game.
In the West Wisconsin defeated San Diego State and faced Gonzaga in the final.
Florida State and Maryland cruised to their match up in the East finals.
Kentucky missed only four free throws in total in reaching the elite eight.
Regional Finals Highlights
East – Maryland defeated Florida State in overtime 57-54
Mideast – Kentucky ended Illinois’ magical run with a ten point victory 78-68
Midwest – Kansas defeated Michigan State 72-65. Tom Izzo followed Mark Dantonio’s path and retired after the game.
West – no one bothered attending this game but it was later learned that Gonzaga defeated Wisconsin 69-63 to advance to the Final Four.
Final Four Results
In the first game Kentucky prevailed over Maryland mostly because they made 50% of their three-point-shots and 26 out of 29 free throws. Kentucky 86 Maryland 77
In the second game Kansas continued their domination and defeated Gonzaga by 28. No one from Spokane watched on TV. Gonzaga coach Mark Few left immediately after the game for Eastern Europe to find the tallest players he could sign for next year.
Few people gave the young Kentucky team a chance in the final, but when Nick Richard blocked Devon Dotson’s shot with one second to go, the Wildcats held on to win by two 69-67. John Calipari and Bill Self shook hands and vowed to return in 2020-2021 with all new players.
So there you have it. Even if the NCAA didn’t crown a champion, I did. If I have to be perfectly honest, I think Kansas would have won it all, but I’ve been a Kentucky fan since 1966.
P.S. – In other news Olivet Nazarene University won the NAIA II tournament in Sioux Falls, SD, defeating Indian Wesleyan 96-78. Olivet fans were jubilant even though the Tigers didn’t score 100 points.
* it’s my tournament so I can name the four regions whatever I want.