The 2018 NCAA Tournament is complete and it was one of the most exciting in the long history of the Tournament. So what did we learn from the tournament?
1) Everybody loves a Cinderella story – The Cinderella story has defined and made March Madness what it is, so what is a Cinderella story? UMBC is a Cinderella story and maybe the greatest we have ever seen. They beat the Tournament’s overall number one seed Virginia in the first ever 16 seed over a number one seed. This story ended in the second round as Cinderella stories don’t last very long and this one didn’t either as a drained UMBC crapped out in the very next game against Kansas State.
2) Loyola was NOT a Cinderella – I think it is very sad that most will classify Loyola as a Cinderella story. What Loyola was, became very clear during this tournament. They were one of the best teams in the country and to classify them as a Cinderella is way off base. A Cinderella team is a team like UMBC that plays the game of their lives, while a heavily-favored team has an off night. Loyola was a team that ran through 4 supposed stronger teams and advanced to the Final Four. If you are a good enough team to make it all the way to the Final Four you are NOT a Cinderella.
3) The NCAA Selection Committee is a problem – Oklahoma and UCLA should NOT have been in this tournament and teams like Middle Tennessee State and Oklahoma State should have been. We all know Oklahoma was in the tournament because they had a showcase player in Trae Young and it looked to me like the selection committee was setting up a second-round game between Duke and Oklahoma. Rhode Island put a stop to that. The First Four in Dayton saw the end of UCLA as Steve Alford was again showed that he cannot coach at a Division one level as his team looked unprepared against St. Bonaventure.
4) John Beilein is a great coach – Beilein proved it while at West Virginia but since arriving at Michigan, he has gone to another level. This is a team most thought would be lucky to make the tournament. Beilein worked his magic and came up just one win short of a National Championship. The only thing that could surprise me with Beilein would be if he doesn’t eventually win a National Championship.
5) The Big East is the best Basketball conference in America – Start off with the National Champion in Villanova, but don’t forget that the Big East had two number one seeds in this tournament (Xavier). The Big East is the best because Big East teams are complete basketball teams. What I mean by that is, that they are physically tough but they are also very athletic.
6) Villanova is a GREAT team – They basically play with seven players and those players play in the exact style that coach Jay Wright wants them to play in. They can beat you with an explosive offense and they can beat you with a suffocating defense. In this tournament, they used both to dominate the competition.
7) Winning in March has a lot to do with luck – Whether it’s an untimely injury or foul trouble, a lot of winning in March comes down to nothing more than dumb luck. A perfect example would be the Xavier Musketeers who were a number one seed, got bounced in the second round. The Musketeers seemed to have the game against Florida State firmly in hand until star guard J.P. Macura got in foul trouble because of two bad calls by the officials. Macura got called for a foul on a clean block and also on a clean steal and with Macura out the Seminoles were able to regain control of the game and eventually win. The official’s calls were not the sole reason Xavier lost as a lot of that had to do with Xavier missing a ton of free throws during the game, but without those two calls, I think it’s safe to say the Muskies would have advanced.
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