Another chapter has been turned in NCAA basketball as UConn has taken the title home with them, but that's just the least of tournament. The 2011 NCAA men's tourney featured buzzer-beaters, heart breakers and controversy, just as any other great season does. Now that it's all wrapped up, we look at the best and worst of this years NCAA Tournament.
Best Coach- Shaka Smart (VCU)
Who on earth would have guessed this 33-year-old coach would be this tournaments greatest? Sure he didn’t lead his team to the title game, but he won just as many games as Brad Stevens did with his VCU Rams starting off in the First Four round (as underdogs for that matter) and then six games later found himself in the Final Four. What sticks though is that Shaka didn’t beat teams, he annihilated teams such as Georgetown, Purdue and No.1 seed Kansas to put the Rams in their first ever Final Four.
MVP- Kemba Walker
No shocker here with this player of the year snub scoring 137 during the entire dance. Don’t forget that Kemba also had to scrap through five straight games in the Big East tournament, leaving fatigue completely unnoticeable by playing the whole forty minutes in three games of the tourney. Matt Howard would take the MVP title home with his clutch shots, but in my mind in order to take home the individual award, you need to take home the team’s hardware first.
Best Game- Pitt v. Butler
This game was bar none one of the most hectic finishes in NCAA Tournament history. Within three seconds the Butler Bulldogs won the game, lost the game, and then won the game again sending Pitt home on another early exit. The game wasn’t anything special for the first 39:57 of the game, but when it got down to crunch time the games superstar, Shelvin Mack, fouled Gilbert Brown literally seconds after Butler nabbed the lead. On Brown’s second miss, and may I add that’s why you practice free throws kids, Matt Howard “shot” a full court shot and drew a foul to put him on the charity stripe and the Bulldogs to another Sweet Sixteen.
Best Game Winning Shot
Juan Fernandez (Temple) vs. Penn State- Fernandez’s shot against Penn State dampened the Nittany Lions welcome back party in their first tourney game in a decade, and with a program that had more problems than Jay-Z a few years back, it hurt badly. Shortly after Penn State’s star Talor Battle sank a shot from the concession stands Juan Fernandez found himself with the ball in his hands with the clock running down to zero. The lockdown defense wasn’t enough to stop Fernandez as he curled around and shot an off-balanced ball as he was fading hard to the left to put the chance of overtime out of the picture and give the Owls the victory.
Biggest Letdown- Ohio State
And this one’s a no-brainer. This team had it all: senior leadership, NBA talent, sharp shooters, and stifling defense, so how did they not win the whole enchilada? The young Wildcats only let five Buckeyes put points on the board, and another downfall for OSU was their depth. They only played seven guys the entire game, and two of those players combined for just a mere eight minutes, so maybe the short bench was finally exposed against the blue and white. Another year where the number one overall seed fell, but man did the Buckeyes fall hard this year.
Worst Call- Texas five second call
After watching a brutally officiated game between Rutgers and St. John’s in the Big East Tournament, you kind of had a feeling that wasn’t going to be the last of the bad calls. Well in a crucial round of thirty two game Texas and Arizona found themselves in a nail biter with the Longhorns winning 67-69 with thirteen seconds left and the ball out of bounds. Unfortunately Cory Joseph couldn’t call a timeout on time and gave the ball to Arizona, who converted an and-one layup with nine seconds left that sealed the game. That definitely wasn’t the end of it, because later in the highlight reels the whole nation saw that the five seconds Joseph apparently wasted was only four point something seconds long. In some cases you can say it wouldn’t have mattered, but with the lead and the ball in their hands, no one can let that slide.