NCAA Tournament 2012: Ranking the Best Stories of March Madness
The 2012 NCAA tournament makes no promises other than one team will win six (or seven) games in a row to win the national championship, and 67 teams will lose their last game of the season.
While the reality is harsh, the tournament is also the provider of joy, harbinger of agony, crusher of dreams and creator of heroes.
I'll admit that only once in my life have I been happy at the end of the tournament. That was in 2003 when a private school from upstate New York ended up cutting down the nets in New Orleans.
But there is a saving grace.
I know that every year I can watch the highlights of the tournament set to the awesome '80s cheese of "One Shining Moment," a la CBS producers.
The end-of-tournament music video reminds us of all the joy and pain of the tournament. The drawback is that most of us have no horse in the race and have to wait until this video plays for any joy.
Well, that ends now.
I am no longer waiting 'til the end of the tournament to remember the good things that have happened. My team is still alive, and I'm going to focus on the good before I get sour.
Here's what's been good so far.
It has been a decade since the Indiana Hoosiers made a deep run into the tournament. Remember Mike Davis?
Maryland took out Indiana in the national final and started a downward spiral for a once-proud program.
New head coach Tom Crean has already brought the Hoosiers back to national prominence with his defeats of No. 1 Kentucky and No. 2 Ohio State in the same season.
He now is set up to face Kentucky again in the Sweet 16.
Indiana, of course, wants to win the game, but all signs point to a bright future for the once and future kings of the Big Ten.
Another Shaka Sighting
Virginia Commonwealth followed up its Final Four run from last season with another performance as a lower-seeded team winning by upset.
This time, VCU got the No. 12 seed and dispatched of No. 5 seed Wichita State.
Shaka Smart’s team would eventually fall to Indiana, but not before it invoked memories of last year’s historic run and raised the legend and marketability of Coach Smart to new heights.
Lehigh Upsets Duke
One of the biggest headlines of the past week was most certainly second-seeded Duke falling in the first round to Lehigh, the No. 15 seed.
Lehigh must be French for “the high,” as in the high a team feels when accomplishing the impossible.
Make no mistake, though: Lehigh was a good team and caught a Duke team that had trouble defensively all season long.
You would think that Duke losing in the first round was the biggest upset.
You’d be wrong...
Missouri Gets Shocked
Norfolk State beating Missouri was the biggest upset of the tournament—especially when you consider the awesomeness of the Missouri offense.
This has nothing to do with the fact that I have Missouri going all the way to the final of my tournament bracket.
My stupid, stupid tournament bracket.
The State of Ohio Is 8-0
Who would have thunk that the state of Ohio would have the same representation in the Sweet 16 as the Big East Conference?
Big East has Syracuse, Marquette and Louisville.
Ohio has Xavier, Ohio State and Ohio U.
They both have Cincinnati.
It’s almost enough to forget LeBron James' “Decision.”
Syracuse Ain't Dead Yet
Syracuse was the chic pick to lose early in the tournament based on the absence of Fab Melo.
After barely defeating UNC-Asheville in the first round, it looked like doom for the Orange.
Jim Boeheim seems to have righted his ship against Kansas State and now looks to a Wisconsin team that will try to slow the tempo of the fast-breaking Orange.
A strong showing could be just the confidence booster the Orange can use to propel themselves to the Final Four.
Baylor seems to be doing its best to bring the hideous 1980s-esque fluorescent fashion back to the present.
The problem is that if Baylor makes it to the Elite Eight, it could potentially face off against Kentucky.
Should Baylor beat Kentucky—and it's more than capable—this fashion trend may stay around for a long time.
This may be enough of a reason for even Kentucky haters to root for the Wildcats.
This has to end now.
South Florida Winning Two Games
Most people probably aren’t aware that South Florida has a basketball team. Well, until this year, that is.
USF barely made it into the tournament and had to play its way in against Cal just to get the 12th seed for the right to play Temple.
South Florida put the screws to Cal but showed all of its ugly play in the first half against Temple in a 20-minute period of basketball that was excruciating to watch.
In the second half, however, USF decided to mimic the 1985 Villanova team and couldn’t miss a shot.
Temple doubled over as if it received a punch in the belly. The game looked like a highlight reel of dunks and razzle-dazzle that did something almost unthinkable in Tampa.
People were talking about basketball.
USF has just had a major renovation to its home, the Sun Dome. The Bulls have never been able to draw fans at a consistent rate, therefore negating their home-court advantage.
This season should act as a springboard for Tampa Bay Area denizens to give the Bulls a second look and support a team that has been dying for fans ever since it joined the Big East nearly a decade ago.