Just about 48 hours removed from a University of Connecticut national championship that will probably not get the credit it deserves from some circles despite it being the fourth title for the Huskies since 1999, more than Kansas or Louisville, just as many as Duke and only one less than North Carolina or Indiana, and tied for fifth-most all time, the wake of the celebration brings us to a traditional rite of passage into the offseason. Back by popular demand, the following is the fourth annual airing of grievances and insights gathered from the greatest spectacle in sports, the NCAA Tournament:
First off, the American Athletic Conference made up for the perception that it was underseeded, and did so well before UConn cut down the net in Texas. In addition to the Huskies, the AAC got a second Sweet 16 representative in Louisville to offset the Round of 64 loss by Cincinnati to Harvard. Granted, UConn's road to the Lone Star State may have been a favorable draw considering their games in Buffalo and East Regional matchups at Madison Square Garden, but before you come at us crying about how unfair it is, just remember all the times that didn't work out. (i.e. Duke twice in the last three years, getting de facto home games only to lose to Lehigh and Mercer)
Second, here is where the annual recap takes on its rant tones. For those of you who know us well, you know the sentiment we express toward the Turner influence that March Madness has taken on since the new broadcast deal was signed in 2011. From there, the NBA-style presentation has increased further, despite the welcome additions of Greg Anthony and Steve Kerr to deliver one of the best booths in recent memory, finally providing Jim Nantz with a pair of exceptional analysts to complement the face of CBS' already exceptional play-by-play skills. The Turner scenario reared its ugly head, however, with the staggered start times for Round of 32 games during the first weekend of the Tournament, providing fans with dead ends on almost every turn. Arizona/Gonzaga at 9:40? That's just as bad as David Stern demanding the NBA Finals start after 9 p.m. on a weeknight against baseball, hockey and network television.
But that's not all.
The Final Four, for the first time ever, was televised on a network other than CBS, as TNT carried the national semifinals. For an event billed as the pinnacle of the sport, it only makes sense for a maximum audience to witness it; and as modern as society has become, not everyone has cable, internet access, or a smartphone. That's not to say the ratings didn't dip significantly, (we're sure they didn't) but aside from ESPN airing the Stanley Cup in the '90s and 2000s before the second lockout, no other sport does that. Can you picture the Super Bowl or World Series on Fox Sports 1 or either of the NBC or CBS Sports Networks? Neither can we.
Enough attacking. Now, it's time to commend everyone involved for once again, despite some minor disagreements, joining together to once again give us three weeks we could all enjoy, aside from DeAndre Kane's late-game heroics of course. A tip of the cap on a job well done, until next season, that is.