When the NCAA tournament field was announced exactly one week ago, brackets were being printed and winners were already being declared.
Then people started to compare their brackets after they filled them out.
Hey, who do you got winning this whole thing?
I’m torn between Kansas and Kentucky , man. But I have them playing each other for the championship.
Yeah, most people do …
And less than a week later, hearts have been shattered and brackets have been busted like water balloons falling off a seven-story building. That, of course, is because Kansas lost in its second game, falling to the small Northern Iowa.
Season over. Just like that.
Kansas was not just one-fourth of the No. 1 seeds. They were the No. 1, achieving the honor from playing as the top-ranked team throughout the majority of the regular season. It was almost inevitable that the highly-regarded “best team in the nation” would at least make regionals!
It wasn’t meant to be. Mistakes were made, shots were uncharacteristically missed, and team leaders like Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich disappeared like ghostly fixtures on Shutter Island.
But it wasn’t everything Kansas was doing or not doing. Northern Iowa had a say in the contest, too.
They had a big man down low to square up against Aldrich. The team was drawing charges against elite players like Collins. And their point guard with a long name was making long shots, and none were bigger all weekend than his gutsy three-pointer near the end of regulation.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime-moment for both teams, but two completely different feelings afterwards.
Northern Iowa, a basic nobody in the realm of college basketball, heads to the Sweet 16 to play either Michigan State or Maryland—two programs which won championships last decade and have Hall of Fame coaches.
As for Kansas, well, it will be a long spring and summer. Bill Self’s team of talented ballers had one bad game out of many and it cost them a championship trophy. With Collins gone and probably Aldrich as well, the young players will need to step up and play even bigger roles in the future.
They have a lot of time to practice now, though.