Anthony Beers, Staff Writer
The men’s NCAA tournament concluded with a heartwarming moment as injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware was able to help cut down the nets in the Georgia Dome, following an emphatic win for the Louisville Cardinals over the Michigan Wolverines. The entire nation knew of Ware’s horrific leg injury and for him to have a happy moment like that after supporting his teammates seemed quite fitting.
The moment was also symbolic of how great of an achievement it is to win the NCAA tournament. For an event that includes over 64 teams, being able to go all the way is almost unfathomable, even if a team is lucky enough to get a number one seed. Due to the significance of this challenge, teams are often forced to come together in ways that are just incredible for the game of basketball. The defense, teamwork and respect for coaching authority are just some of the qualities that can make the NCAA tournament some of the best basketball to watch in the country.
The madness factor is also a good one. While it may seem upsetting to see teams that have had dominant seasons lose to a lower seeds and ruin brackets, that type of competition can truly see who the real winner deserves to be, and that type of surprise ultimately represents the shock that sports can provide.
The NCAA tournament is madness, chaos and frankly impossible to predict, but it’s the truest test that competition can represent. A team can have a bad day at the wrong time, but that has to do with the mentality of rising to the occasion and embracing the pressure of what’s at stake in the tournament. The Louisville Cardinals deserved to win and on the other side was an extremely talented Michigan Wolverines team led by point guard Trey Burke. While the confetti rained down and the cameras flashed as Ware cut down the net from a lowered rim, numerous Wolverines were crying and distraught at coming so close and yet so far. Now that may seem sad, but seeing the dedication and the emotion from the Michigan players truly shows basketball fans how much this team wanted to win. Competition can be cruel, but that type of devotion and emotionality is really incomparable to many other sporting events in the professional realm and it’s why the NCAA tournament can provide some of the best competitive basketball this nation has to offer.
Justin Lovell, Sports Editor
Earlier this month, both men and women’s NCAA basketball added historic moments to their record books with Louisville’s win over Michigan in the men’s Championship and Connecticut over Louisville in the women’s. Both tournaments had upsets left and right this year, which was the great draw for most people. However, personally, and I know I am in the minority on this, I hated this year’s tournament just as I do every season.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the tournament basically makes the regular season meaningless. Now I know what everyone is going to respond with, that the regular season determines seeds, which it does, but to what extent? Gonzaga was the top ranked team in the nation in the last regular season poll, but yet because Louisville played in the Big East Conference, they were the top overall seed in the tournament.
Another reason that the regular season means nothing is because the teams get no real reward for finishing with a great record. Regardless of whether you are a one seed or a 16 seed, each team will have to win the same amount of games to win the National Championship in the tournament. Therefore when it comes down to March and April, teams just have to be hot, not the best in the nation. A prime example is a game we saw in the tournament just this year, between Georgetown and Florida Gulf Coast (FGCU). Georgetown, a two seed, was upset by FGCU in the second round of the tourney, ending the Hoyas season. Everyone watching that game knew that Georgetown was the better team, they just didn’t play like it that day.
The same thing happened in the women’s tourney, which is very surprising. Baylor, lead by Brittney Griner, was upset in the Sweet 16 by Louisville. This loss was just the teams second in the past two seasons, but because it came during the tourney, their season was done. The eventual champion, UConn Huskies are a perfect example of why the tournament is a joke. Connecticut lost four games all season long this year, once to Baylor and then three times to Notre Dame. In the Final Four, UConn again faced off against Notre Dame with a championship game bid on the line. Finally UConn broke through and beat the Irish by a fair margin, but the fact remains that Notre Dame had their number all year long, but because they didn’t play a perfect game in the tourney, their season was done.
To me, the tournament needs to be reworked, so that the teams that bust their asses all year long actually get rewarded. No one can be perfect every game, so to decide a champion on a single elimination format just seems ridiculous and absurd, especially after a 30 plus game regular season. If this were up to me, the tournament would be cut in half, 32 teams make it and each round would be a three game series. That way it far more likely the better teams win and the quality of basketball is improved. Fans would miss the upsets at the beginning, but at the same time, the more deserving teams get to move on and cut the nets down at the end of the season.