As I sat down to watch the Men’s NCAA Basketball Championship game, many thoughts raced through my head. The battle of the Cats vs. the Dogs. Kentucky vs. UConn. John Calipari vs. Kevin Ollie. How does an eight seed and a seven seed make it to the final round? This tournament season has been a stunning year of upsets and heartbreaks over busted brackets early on. Many entered the national bracket contest, even more than usual, in hopes of miraculously concocting a perfect bracket for the chance to win the $1 billion that Warren Buffett promised for the person that could do this. Two quick thoughts: $1 billion dollars? What would be the first thing I would do if I were handed $1 billion dollars? And, is a perfect bracket even possible – even for the most knowledgeable of experts? Has that even happened anytime recently? I’d say that the motivation for this year’s bracket contest was far more competitive than previous years.
But that didn’t last long. For anyone. It was a rough ride for CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish who had Wichita State winning it all. Ouch. That had to hurt. They lost to the Wildcats in round three. No one saw that one coming. But let’s be honest – few had Kentucky even making it to the Elite Eight. Which brings me to my next thought: How does a team that Arkansas beat twice this year make it to the Championship game and the Hogs can’t even make it past the second round of the NIT? All year, Kentucky posted consistently mediocre numbers and ended this season 29-11 overall and 12-6 in conference play. Of course, by the time the team headed to the big dance, freshmen Julius Randle and James Young had come into their own. They were exciting to watch, energetic and fresh. The Wildcats had a way of instilling hope and giving confidence to their fans. My friend Connor, a die-hard Kentucky fan (and an Arkansas traitor), even bought a ticket to the Championship game to watch his team live. And we can’t forget about the brave soul who had “UK: Nati9nal Champions 2014” tattooed on his calf before they even made the final four. Yikes.
The game was set to start promptly at 8:10pm on CBS. Contrary to the many that preferred to watch the game on ESPN, I was satisfied with the news. I like to watch games on CBS. I liked that Jim Nantz, Tracy Wolfson, Greg Anthony, and Steve Kerr were the broadcast team for the game. Moreover, I like the way the CBS scorebox looks better than most others. Most of the time, I like that CBS doesn’t have the other game scores/updates streaming below the box. For me, when watching an important game such as the NCAA National Championship, I pretty much want to be focused on that – and only that. Don’t get me wrong; the convenience of the streaming updates ESPN provides is extremely important to me during football season. CBS makes the entire picture look very clear and clean by doing this. Their use of camera angles and consistency play a big part in this too. Even small details can show how different networks can create different experiences among audience members.
It’s safe to say that UConn had a few tricks up their sleeve that helped their victory. Shabazz Napier was the star of the game, with 22 points and 3 assists, he held up both ends of the court and kept his hand in Aaron Harrison’s face. Neither team was expected to make it this far, but Kentucky lacked possibly the most important factor in a tournament game: consistency. The Wildcats struggled at the free throw line, missing 11 total buckets that ultimately cost them the game. UConn led by as much as 15 points in the first half and never gave up the lead: they went 10-for-10 at the free throw line. And though UConn held an average 32-8 overall record during regular season, they managed to uphold and progress their .777 free throw average. Consistency.
The game ended with a 60-54 Husky victory, an upset Drake, and a satisfied Bill Clinton and George W. Bush combo, who were just happy to be there.
My last question and remaining thought about the official ending to basketball season can pretty much be summed up with this: Who let the dogs out?