Regardless of how your favorite team did in this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament, here are some things we learned or relearned:
1. Being seeded high is no guarantee of success.
2.,n fact, being a No. 1 seed is no longer guaranteed a win over a No. 16 seed, thanks to UMBC’s victory over Virginia.
3. UMBC showed that even a school most people have never heard of has some talented basketball players, and on a given night, can play with anybody.
4. As much fun as it is to win, losing can be downright painful. Credit Virginia Coach Tony Bennett for showing us that losing with dignity is possible and something to be admired. He was a class act.
5. Only 17,676 of 17.3 million brackets posted online had No. 9 K-State vs. No. 11 Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight. Before we suggest there are more than 17,000 astute college basketball fans, let’s not discount the real possibility that some people enter multiple brackets with almost every possibility or variable as an outcome.
6. Thirty-one NCAA brackets correctly picked the first four teams in the Elite Eight: K-State, Loyola-Chicago, Florida State and Michigan.
7. Kansas State coach Bruce Weber silenced most of the naysayers after beating Kentucky. He’s one of only 10 coaches ever to take three programs into the Sweet 16. For whatever reason, Weber has never been warmly embraced by KSU fans. With most of the team back next year, expectations will be higher than they’ve been for a while in Manhattan.
8. It’s still a little vague as to what’s good and bad sportsmanship after the game ends, apparently. Kansas State players said they were upset that after beating Kentucky, its players and coaches left the court before taking part in a postgame handshake. KSU players accused Kentucky of poor sportsmanship and a lack of respect.
Kentucky coach John Calipari disagreed, saying he tried to go shake hands, only to see Kansas State’s players busy on the court celebrating.
The question becomes just how long the losing team should wait for the winners to break up the celebration and line up for handshakes.
I’m not quite sure I buy Coach Calipari’s comment that he was happy for K-State. But whether he was truly happy for K-State or not, I can see how the whole situation can be awkward.
9. Just for fun, some sportswriters took the liberty of reseeding the teams that reached the Sweet 16. Talk about a lack of respect: K-State was seeded last, behind Loyola of Chicago, Syracuse, etc. Teams will always use the lack of respect card when it comes to sporting events.
10. The tournament continues to be compelling because of the one-and-done format. Any team can catch lightning in a bottle and pull off an upset or two. It’s doubtful UMBC would have beaten Virginia in a best-of-five series.
11. Other than Villanova, the other three Final Four teams could easily have been eliminated earlier. KU was on the ropes in the Elite Eight game against Duke, Michigan could easily have lost to Houston in the second round, and Loyola-Chicago won its first three tournament games by a total of four points.
12. As much as we enjoy analyzing the strategy and decisions made during March Madness, it’s remarkable how easy the game is when you make shots. No teams escaped having a game where it struggled to make wide-open shots. Case in point is K-State. They shot well from long range against Kentucky, but struggled against Loyola. The aim is to survive and advance.
13. Before March Madness, many people had never heard of Loyola of Chicago’s Sister Jean, who is 98 years young. I don’t know if it’s true, but reportedly someone asked Sister Jean what she gave up for Lent, and she said, “Losing.”
Hillsboro resident Joe Kleinsasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. You can reached him at Joe.Kleinsasser@wichita.edu.