2010 NCAA Tournament: What a Ride It Was
The basketball left Butler forward Gordon Hayward's hands just before time expired. His shot from half court floated in the air for what seemed like an eternity, as most of the nation stood on edge, waiting to see if there was a bit of Jimmy Chitwood in Hayward.
The 2010 NCAA Tournament gave us a beacon of hope, in a sea of darkness.
All of the Final Four teams consist of players who came to college to get an education, and over three to four years, improve themselves to have a chance to play at the next level. Juniors and seniors were well represented, with no less than 16 players on the four squads who get regular minutes on the court.
There were a total of 21 upsets of the 64 games played (an upset being a lower seed beating a higher seed), including stunners like Northern Iowa over Kansas, Butler over both Syracuse and Kansas St., Tennessee over Ohio St, and St. Mary's over Villanova. The 2009 edition had just 16 upsets. The 2008 edition......just 13.
The nation witnessed some fantastic college basketball games, including Northern Iowa taking down Kansas in the round of 32, Kansas St. outlasting Xavier in double overtime in the sweet 16, Duke winning at the end over Baylor in the Elite Eight, as well as the two Final Four games and the National Championship game.
Who can forget the look of euphoria and pure elation on the face of Northern Iowa guard Ali Farokhmanesh, whose three point basket at the buzzer took down UNLV, and then a three pointer with 34 seconds left in the half to knock out the Jayhawks from the Tournament. Farokhmanesh's expression after the win is immortalized forever in the heads of viewers, as well as on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Who can forget the passion and excitement in the voice of Gus Johnson as he watched Xavier and Kansas St. battle to the death. The game on its own was a thing of beauty, but the calls from Johnson and Len Elmore make it one of the best NCAA Tournament games of all time. Johnson's call of the 30 foot three point shot taken by Xavier guard Jordan Crawford in the dying moments of the first overtime perfectly epitomized what the whole country was thinking; "Uhhhhh....OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!"
Who can forget all of the buzzer beaters that define the careers of the players and teams who take part in them, as well as the ones who watch it.
Korie Lucious of Michigan St. hitting a three at the buzzer to take down Maryland in the round of 32, right after Maryland's star guard Greivis Vasquez made a tough jumper in the lane to put them up one.
Wake Forest guard Ishmael Smith grabbing a rebound off of a missed free throw and dribbling the length of the floor before pulling up and hitting a mid range jumper to beat Texas in overtime.
Purdue guard Chris Kramer driving the lane while crossing up his defender and hitting a layup off the glass at the buzzer to upset Texas A&M in overtime.
The nation watched as the desperation shot from Hayward spun in the air towards the basket. As it was falling, many believed that it was the destiny of the Butler Bulldogs for it to go into the basket, and give them a National Championship.
The ball crashed towards the hoop with such force that it hit off the backboard onto the front of the rim, and then onto the floor.
The 2010 NCAA Tournament was over.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end.
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