Monday, April 8, 2013

Lousiville Begins to Build its House of Cards

Once again the NCAA Tournament Championship was the only game in town on Monday night and as usual not only did it live up to the hype but provided one of the best ‘Finals” in American sports this year. March Madness is unlike any other of the high profile finals not just because of the ‘one and done’ finality but how every possession of the short 40-minute duration is magnified. Unlike most of the others where you must get to a 7th game to induce that “do or die” tension in the crowd and mentality in the players, this was there from the opining tipoff. Even with seven chances to provide sufficient drama a 7-game series rarely goes the distance and that’s what the MLB and NBA don’t often do is match drama of the commencement ceremony of the Big Dance. The 2013 Final was no different as from the opening tip there was possession-by-possession tension that only subsided when we finally got a chance to catch our breath at halftime. There was a great story to tell regardless of whichever school came out on top. Either the Maze and Blue were going to rise up and raise the banner that the “Fab Five” couldn’t or the “Godfather” Rick Patino was going to get back to the winner circle and bring Louisville it’s first title since 86’ and the surprising “Never Nervous” Pervous Ellison run. If you were not one of the 70,000 plus that watched it in person on huge television audience then too bad, we’re not going to recap the game but Michigan had to be a little dishearted with only a one point lead at the half after going shooting so well from three in the first half including a perfect 4 for 4 from Spike Albrecht. As a neutral observer whom only wanted to see a good game I felt the tide was turning and a red wave was coming in the second half. It did but rather than being swept under the Wolverines answered every call seemingly always getting the key bucket when they were faced with a 9 or 10 point deficit if they didn’t. Even when The’Ville pushed it to 10 Michigan got it down to a six point deficit twice, with the ball, but couldn’t convert the big 3 like they had done so many times throughout the tournament. John Beilein will have to answer some questions regarding substitutions as they didn’t seem to have their best 3-point shooters in the game when it was slipping away. End the end it was the nation's most efficient defense exerting its will, making key still via the press and taking Michigan out of it’s rhythm. Conversely the nation's No. 1-ranked offense Michigan hit a couple of critical scoring droughts which eventually let do their demise. In either case it was what we all wanted to see after our brackets were long since sent to the landfill and our school affiliation either was not invited to the popular kids party or asked to leave early. We all put our tribulations behind us, tuned in, and just wanted to see the greatest show on earth live up to it’s name with no regrets about who else should have been playing, and unlike it’s American compeers, March Madness more than lived up to the billing and will be even more maddening next year with two new stories, perhaps just as intriguing, as the trend of parity continues.