Sports: March madness
Your Sideline Spectator isn’t letting this month pass without writing about the 2012 NCAA Men’s Division Basketball Championship, a single-elimination tournament held each spring in the United States which features 68 college basketball teams with the eventual winner bagging the national championship in the top tier of US college basketball, the equivalent of our very own Philippine Collegiate Champions League.
Created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the tournament is being organized by the US National Collegiate Athletic Association and was the brainchild of former Ohio State University head coach Harold Olsen who guided the Buckeyes to a 265-81 win-loss record in 24 years.
Informally, it is known as the "March Madness" or the "Big Dance" since it is being held mostly in the month of March. In fact, the US NCAA Men’s Division Basketball Championship has become one of the most prominent annual sporting events in the United States according to Wikipedia.
The Oregon Ducks, then mentored by Howard Hobson, won the inaugural tournament in 1939 by subduing Olsen’s Ohio State, 46-33, at the Patten Gymnasium in Evanston, Illinois while last year, the Connecticut Huskies led by current National Basketball Association rookie Kemba Walker of Charlotte bested Butler for the crown in a 53-41 finals triumph.
So far, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has won the most number of NCAA crowns with 11 national titles including 10 in a 12-year stretch from 1964 to 1975. Then under mentor John Wooden, the Bruins had such Most Outstanding Players named as Walt Hazzard, Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (three times), Sidney Wicks, Bill Walton (twice) and Richard Washington during their 10-year reign.
Among the notable current NBA players ever to win the MOP trophy are Connecticut’s Walker (2011), Kansas’ Mario Chalmers (2008), Corey Brewer (2007) and Joakim Noah (2006), both of Florida, the Huskies’ Emeka Okafor in 2004, Carmelo Anthony of Syracuse (2003), Duke’s Shane Battier (2001) and Connecticut’s Richard Hamilton of the Chicago Bulls in 1999.
As for retired NBA cagers, those who have won the Most Outstanding Player award were Bill Russell (1955), Wilt Chamberlain (1957), Elgin Baylor (1958), Jerry West (1959), Jerry Lucas (1960-61), David Thompson (1974), Earvin "Magic" Johnson (1979), Isiah Thomas (1981), James Worthy (1982), Hakeem Olajuwon (1983), Patrick Ewing (1984), Danny Manning (1988), Glen Rice (1989) and Christian Laettner (1991).
Next to UCLA’s 11 titles, the Kentucky Wildcats have won seven, the Indiana Hoosiers and the North Carolina Tar Heels are tied at third with five wins each followed by Duke’s four, Connecticut and Kansas with three apiece and seven others with two US NCAA diadems. Coach Brad Stevens’ Butler Bulldogs have so far been luckless in the last two editions in losing to Duke (2010) and to Connecticut (2011) in the finals.
Most notable college coaches aside from Wooden and the Gators’ Billy Donovan are Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp and Tubby Smith, Duke’s long-time bench tactician Mike Krzyzewski, the Tar Heels’ Roy Williams, Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks, Jim Calhoun of the Huskies, Jerry Tarkanian of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as well as Michigan State’s Tom Izzo.
At present, only four teams are left standing following a grueling schedule which began last March 13 (US time): No. 1 Kentucky (South), No. 4 Louisville (West), No. 2 Ohio State (East) and No. 2 Kansas (Midwest). On March 31 (April 1 in Manila), it will be Kentucky versus Louisville and Ohio State going up against Kansas in similar do-or-die match-ups with the winners tangling in a winner-take-all battle two days letter over at Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
At this early, focus will be between John Calipari’s Wildcats and the Cardinals’ Rick Pitino as both Kentucky and Louisville are expected to battle tooth and nail in their national semifinals meeting. In a battle of two second seeded teams, the Buckeyes and the Jayhawks will likewise try to outlast each other in order to reach the championships.
Named as regional most outstanding players were Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky (South), Chane Behanan of Louisville (West), Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (East) and Thomas Robinson of Kansas (Midwest). The Huskies, ranked No. 9 in the south lost to No. 8 Iowa State, 77-64, right in the second round of the south regional tournament after losing their main man Walker to the NBA.*
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