It’s that beautiful time of the year again… The NCAA tournament is about to start! This is the time of the year when good teams are separated from the great teams. Some players will leave lasting memories in the hearts and minds of fans and some players will play the last game of their collegiate careers. Who has what it takes to etch their name in history?
It seems like every year the NCAA tournament gets more and more unpredictable. The last couple of years my bracket had been completely busted the first day of the tournament. I will say the unpredictability of the NCAA tournament is due to the spread of talent throughout the college game. Before the top recruits automatically went to the traditional powerhouse schools. While the big name schools still get their fair share of big name talent, some guys opt to go to colleges where they can be the big fish in a small pond and then bail early for the NBA. For example look at a guy like Ben Simmons, he could have gone to any school in country, yet he chose LSU. No disrespect to LSU, but some may not view them in the same light as a UNC, Duke, or Kentucky. The spread of talent throughout college basket does make games a lot more competitive, but it also shows the shift of the business minds of those involved in collegiate sports. The business of basketball is an entirely different topic, which I will speak on at a later date.
During the NCAA tourney it’s always fun to watch the underdogs play the best basketball of their season and make a deep run into the tournament. Only time is not so enjoyable is when they beat your team or they cause you to lose money because they are destroying your bracket. Besides the teams, I also like watching players play themselves into tons of money. Some guys fly under radar all season long and then when the world is watching they put on a show, forcing the pro scouts to take notice.
The 2016 NCAA tournament was great, very fun to watch, until the final few seconds of the National Championship game. I don’t think I had ever been on emotional roller coaster like that in a game that I wasn’t playing in. I watched the game online from Gaziantep, Turkey where I was playing last season. My wife (also a UNC graduate), and I set our alarms to get up at 3AM to make sure we wouldn’t miss the game. At 5AM we went back to bed in complete shock. I watched that game winning three point shot against us at least twenty times, analyzing what I saw that went wrong. Credit to Villanova they kept it simple and ran one of the most simple, yet highly effective plays in basketball. Push the ball and draw the focus of the defense, then find the trailer behind you.
This year I’m looking forward to watching the tournament. As usual I am rolling with my Tar Heels to win it all. Currently they are playing great basketball and still have room for improvement. Justin Jackson has developed into one of the premier wings in college basketball. Joel Berry is that quiet strong leader every team needs. Theo gives the team that spark of energy and a good defensive presence on the wing. Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks are beast on the boards and double- double threats. For me the team’s key piece is Luke Maye. Luke gives UNC something they haven’t had in a while, a stretch four man, a big guy who can shoot from the perimeter. His ability to shoot the ball will spread the floor for the bigs to get busy in the paint and also open lanes for the guards to drive. I may be a little bias to Luke, but so what, power to the stretch fours!
Win or go home! For some this will be last time they get to wear the jersey of their school. No better way to leave the gym, than going out with a win. I thank God, I won my last game, which happened to be a National Championship game. What team will be next to watch themselves celebrate while watching “One Shining Moment”?
Enjoy the tournament!