It is Sunday before the Monday NCAA final game and at this stage of the basketball season there are things I know and things I don’t know.
One thing I do know is that I thought there were a lot of basketball games played when the NCAA tournament started, and I thought I watched a lot of them. That truly is a fact.
However, there were a lot of games played this past weekend and I watched a bunch of them again but the difference was that this time I watch different levels of games.
I watched part of one professional game and that was enough of that for the entire long weekend, but I also watched NCAA men’s games, NCAA Women’s games, the NIT, and whatever the other tournament is called for the teams that don’t get into the NCAA or the NIT. I also worked in a game from a national high school tournament.
Those are some of the things I know for sure and the biggest thing I know right now is that KU isn’t in the final game in the Men’s NCAA tournament. I will get back to this later. I watched two really exciting games in the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
I wanted to see UConn play because they were undefeated. I had seen some scores and they were beating teams 90-18. Geno Auriemma, the UConn coach had been catching some flack because of the one-sided wins.
Coach Auriemma can be a little caustic at times, but you can’t argue that he doesn’t have the best program in the NCAA Women’s D1 grouping. He told one sports writer in so many words that the other teams have the opportunity to play defense and offense just like his team does.
He is a very lovable guy at times. UConn played Notre Dame in the semi-finals and Notre Dame ended UConn’s season one game short of the finals. That was a carbon copy of last year’s season when UConn lost in the semis. Notre Dame about blew it when they had a five point lead with 21 seconds left and UConn tied it up.
A familiar name to Nebraska fans played a part in that situation when Jessica Shepard, a transfer from Nebraska, made a bad pass that led to a lay-up and helped UConn erase the five-point deficit and get the game to overtime.
ND’s Arike Ogunbowale hit a buzzer beater for the win. Move ahead to Sunday and Ogunbowale hit another buzzer beater to beat Mississippi State for the championship. Not a bad way for a player to end the season I would say.
I watched the high school national championship tournament because Oak Hill Academy was playing in it and I happen to know the coach, Steve Smith. They had played in the Heartland Hoops Classic in Grand Island in February and got upset by a team out of Kansas and then in this game they got beat again.
I saw them play twice this year and they lost both games. They ended up 41-2 and I saw both losses. I may be banned from watching them play in the future.
Then there was the KU and Villanova game on Saturday. I knew it would be a tough game but I also knew that Nova had lost to Butler at Butler, lost to St. John’s at home, lost to Providence on the road and lost to Creighton at Omaha so I thought the game would be a closely fought contest.
What I didn’t know was Villanova would rain a torrent of three-pointers down on KU defense, 18 of them in the game, 13 of them in the first half and completely dominate the Jayhawk 95-79.
They had six players score in double figures and then on top of that had the audacity to play outstanding defense. At one point Nova had more three-pointers (five) than KU had points (four).
They shot 18 attempts from beyond the arc before KU had shot so much as one triple. They moved the ball well and had 20 assists in the game. To say they dominated the contest would be an understatement.
On the other hand, KU had a great season. This was to be a down season for the Jayhawks. Not too many people thought they would win the Big 12 for the 14th straight year, but they did.
This year’s seniors played on four Big 12 regular season championship teams, two Big 12 Tournament championship teams, had four NCAA Tournament appearances, and a four-year record of 121-26. I’ll bet they will be pretty good next season also.
Now I hope Michigan can win the NCAA game that will have been played before this goes to press and that would finish an outstanding season for them, BUT if Villanova is firing three-pointers and hitting them as well as they did last Saturday, it will be difficult.
This is a great time of the year for basketball fans.