Timeline: national championship droughts, milestones, and points of passage

It’s time for a timeline. At the end of a college basketball season — when the twists and turns of the Final Four and the national championship game easily lead bloggers (this one included) to reconsider what needs to be changed in the sport — it’s worth stepping back and considering how much history has […]

First-time national champions encounter a first-time marker of failure

A national champion will be crowned Monday night in Houston. It won’t be a first-time national champion. North Carolina enters the 2016 title game with five national crowns. Villanova doesn’t have as many, but it does have one, the immortal 1985 victory over Georgetown in Rupp Arena. This very simple fact leads to another plain […]

Villanova and North Carolina: from the gateway to the castle door

The Villanova Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels have met several times in recent NCAA tournament history, “recent” being defined by the start of tournament seeding in 1979: That collection of results might not elicit an exclamation or a stunned reaction. However, there’s an eye-catching fact which can be extracted from that list of meetings […]

Tom Butters, In Memoriam: The man behind Coach K

Death is part of life, and in the death of Tom Butters last Thursday, life took another poetically powerful twist on this swiftly-tilting planet. Think of certain people in the public square. Think of people dying on specific days or at specific times. Think of all the instances in which a death is fitting in […]

5 underappreciated Final Four national semifinals

When you think of great Final Four national semifinals, a few answers immediately rise to the front of the list. 1983 Louisville-Houston, the game which in many ways took college basketball to a much higher level — literally. That aerial circus fully announced the arrival of an above-the-rim game. 1974 UCLA-North Carolina State was, quite […]

For Villanova and Oklahoma, Plan A isn’t wrong, but Plan B must be ready

The Villanova Wildcats and the Oklahoma Sooners both arrive at the championship-making stage of the 2015-2016 college basketball season at a point in basketball history when the Golden State Warriors and the Splash Brothers are redefining the pro game. Jump shooting — 3-point jump shooting, to be precise — is in. How’s it GOINK, Phil […]

Jim Boeheim’s gift to Roy Williams

On Selection Sunday, Jim Boeheim received a gift from the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. He made very good use of it, leading the Syracuse Orange to the 2016 Final Four this weekend in Houston. Boeheim also turned his own gift into a present for the very coach he’ll face in Saturday’s second national […]

Cole Field House’s “other” Final Four: not Texas Western, but UCLA and 3 outsiders

Cole Field House, on the campus of the University of Maryland in College Park, deserves a moment — more precisely, a moment beyond its most famous moment. Wednesday night, some Americans watched ESPN’s rebroadcast of the 1966 NCAA national championship game in which Texas Western’s all-black starting five beat Kentucky’s all-white team, forever changing college […]

LSU’s 1986 Final Four run established the template for Syracuse in 2016

Is the Syracuse Orange’s run to the Final Four unprecedented? The 1986 LSU Tigers can assure you it’s not. Syracuse has become the first No. 10 seed to ever reach the Final Four, but don’t allow that one detail to convince you that the Orange’s mad dash to Saturday’s national semifinals is a new thing in […]

A “conventional” Final Four: 20 years ago, we didn’t need a dome

Has it been 20 full years since the Final Four was last played in a conventional arena? Does it feel longer or shorter since that moment passed through our lives? The American sports fan has become so conditioned to expect a Final Four in a huge football dome that the days of “normal” Final Fours […]

The past weekend of women’s college basketball said a lot. All of it was good.

Women’s college basketball will always have a relatively difficult time piercing the national sports news cycle during the men’s NCAA tournament. That’s not a criticism, that’s reality. For one thing, the first night of the women’s Sweet 16 is held on the second night of the men’s Sweet 16. The scheduling change for the women […]

East Region notebook

The North Carolina Tar Heels won the East Region, offering the least surprising final outcome of any of the four regions. Oklahoma would likely occupy second place among the four regional champions in terms of meeting the bracket expectations of most fans and pundits, but Carolina clearly rates first. Indiana had no answer for UNC’s […]

Midwest Region notebook

Sweet Jesus — what else is there to say about the Midwest Region after THAT? What’s THAT? Sunday, of course. Easter witnessed a resurrection almost as improbable as Texas A&M’s Palm Sunday escape from Northern Iowa the week before — and in a certain sense, Syracuse’s surge past Virginia was more shocking to the senses. […]