I am sure NO ONE picked this combo.
March Craziness is about over and - as much as many folks may be glad to see it go - I think this was the greatest, most interesting and surprising NCAA Basketball Tournament of all time.
You may remember a year ago when very unexpectedly my UNC Tar Heels came out of nowhere to reach the final game. They were the surprise team of that tournament. And, they had Kansas in a choke-hold after the first half, which ended with UNC up by 16 points.
Lots of articles and opinion pieces are appearing right now trying to figure out what happened to this year’s Tar Heels. After all, they returned four starters and added one very fine player via transfer. They should have been all set for another run. In fact, UNC was the consensus pre-season #1 ranked team in the nation.
I would suggest that the demise of the team this year started in the second half of the Kansas game a year ago, when the Jayhawks staged the largest NCAA championship game comeback in tournament history. Folks, you are simply not supposed to lose after you have a 16 point halftime lead. Doing that plays into a team’s memory (aka psyche) and it’s clear UNC never recovered.
So it is that last year’s runner-up/this year’s pre-season favorite didn’t even get selected to participate in the 2023 spectacle. Talk about a fall from grace.
Speaking of 2023, this year’s Final Four features Miami (the one in Florida), Florida Atlantic, San Diego State and UConn. Say what?
I have a friend who likes to wager a dollar or two on sports competitions. I’ll wager a dollar that he didn't pick a single one of these teams to be in the Final Four. Come on. These teams are all good, but this mix in the Final Four? NO ONE picked it. There can’t be a single perfect bracket remaining. Not one.
What are the lessons from this year’s amazing tournament?
Anybody can win any game. That’s why they play the games.
People who believe their own press clippings set themselves up to fail.
Nobody hands you anything in life. You have to go out and earn it and keep earning it every day.
It’s hard to be a top dog. That’s particularly true in a new era of college sports where huge sums of money are dangled in front of players who have been coddled since the third grade. They are told how great they are from an early age. They go to college for a year, then on to NBA University. They can transfer with ease. Today, as amateurs, they can be paid to endorse products while they are still in school and on the team. They’re fun to watch, but hard to become attached to. As in many aspects of life and business, old-fashioned loyalty isn’t what it used to be. I wish it weren’t this way, but building a team of winners who stick together for four years has to be about as easy as picking a perfect result from the NCAA tournament.
It’s a new world. Adapt or move out of the way. UNC has won six national basketball championships and last year almost number seven. Dook has five. The enemy never sleeps. UNC took a nap this year. It’s time to wake up.
Can they find a way to get back to what their basketball pedigree says they have earned?
DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.
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