As this wackamole of a season careened off the rails, tumbling down Mt. Sinai, banging through the rapids of the River Styx and resting someplace in a stagecoach on the cactus-strewn road to Houston, a sprawling city with zero planning & zoning, there was a consensus among the punditocracy.
Including in these quarters at the vast 13 acre campus of Seedy K Sports.
There really is not a best team this season, just one with enough survival gear to escape six games in a row.
And, then this happened.
We all started asking as the FF approached, is there one more surprise? Might Miami or Florida Atlantic or San Diego State actually prevail as champion?
Because as if all of a sudden there appeared to be a clearly best team: the Huskies of UConn. Who were sashaying their way through the Dance card with the second highest victory margin per W ever. (UK, I believe, in The Rick’s title season there, in case you’re curious.)
And so it came to pass.
There was no One More Surprise before One Shining Moment.
And, mea culpa maxima, we should have seen it all along.
Remember back in the ‘22 portion of the campaign, when out of the blue, Hurley’s Huskies started 14-0?
Of course not, because they then lost 6 of 8 early on the Big East, where they finished tied with Providence for fourth place.
Then the ship righted. Even though we were thrown off by their L in the league tourney final to Marquette. Though we shouldn’t have been because Al McGuire’s NC2A champion Warriors are one of those capturing the crown after losing their last tilt before the Dance.
So, yeah, UConn was really the best all along.
But wasn’t it just too much fun savoring what we went through to rediscover that?
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The Selection Committee botched a lot of the seeding.
(Of course, it didn’t come close to being as bad as the officiating in the women’s title battle, which was atrocious.)
It says here one of the major culprits is that the committee no longer gives more weight to how teams are playing at the end of the season.
And, of course, they undervalued schools like SD State and FAU, because you know, Dickie V wasn’t extolling their praises ad nauseam in the middle of the incessant Blue Devil/ Tar Heel runup.
* * * * *
One of the things the tourney did confirm was Chris Mack’s brilliance in firing Luke Murray.
I mean there’s Murray, an assistant now for the national championship club, whispering in his head coach’s ear on the sideline before the Aztecs made their 2d half surge.
So, yeah, Connecticut was forced to escape in the title game by only 17. If the head guy hadn’t been listening to that know nothing assistant, it would have been a much easier victory.
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I must admit it’s quite the surprise that, coming off a horrid 4 W season, Kenny Payne’s Cardinals will be competing next autumn in the Empire Classic at MSG in NYC.
Along with the aforementioned champion Huskies, Texas and IU, top 20 squads all.
Of course, with an almost totally new team still being cobbled together, he’d better win both, or the school administrator’s best not even let him get on the plane to fly back to the Ville, I write being snarky and facetious.
— c d kaplan