1. At the end of the game last night, I was hoping that the focus of the post-game analysis would be on Kansas making some terrific plays to get back into the game, capped by a phenomenal shot from Mario Chalmers to force overtime. I was hoping that the focus would not be on Memphis "choking." Based on a scan of the radio dial and the AJC sports page, I was wrong. The focus seems to be much more on Memphis losing the game than on Kansas winning it. That's pretty unfair to Memphis, who are being penalized for being good enough to have put themselves into the position to blow a lead in the first place. The Tigers played really well to go from 47-44 down to 60-51 ahead against an outstanding team. They then missed a few free throws down the stretch that wouldn't have mattered if Mario Chalmers wouldn't have channeled Scottie Thurman. If Chalmers misses, then Memphis is exalted as a great champion, a 39-1 dynamo that won the most loaded Final Four in history (at least in terms of seeds). Because Chalmers makes the shot and then Kansas keeps right on rolling in overtime, Memphis are chokers. Makes perfect sense to me.
2. I really enjoyed the game last night. I didn't do a bracket this year for the first time in about 20 years because: (1) I don't know much about college basketball anymore; (2) college basketball is a shadow of its former self in a number of respects (the best players only spending one year, the prevalence of flopping as a concerted defensive strategy, and the meaninglessness of the regular season are three reasons that come to mind); (3) Michigan sucks; and (4) I'm tired of listening to boobs in the office discuss their brackets endlessly, as if I care or am impressed that they knew about Western Kentucky all along. (The only more reprehensible behavior among men in an office environment is discussion of their golf games.) I have to say that not doing a bracket was a liberating experience. I didn't have to participate in any of the banal "I got this right!" discussions. More importantly, I was able to watch games without having my rooting interests complicated. I was able to watch Memphis and Kansas play last night without worrying about who I picked or would the result make me smarter or dumber.
I also enjoyed the game because it was played at a very high level. I've found a lot of college basketball games this year to be close to unwatchable because the level of play just isn't very high. Last night, Memphis and Kansas rolled a bunch of excellent players out onto the floor and they went at each other for 45 minutes. The defense and rebounding were especially good. Every basket was earned. The game was somewhat defensive, but not in a Big Ten/Battle of the Somme sort of way. It was defensive because the teams were really athletic and up in each other's faces. They also stayed on their feet for the most part, which I appreciate. Speaking of which...
3. Do Carolina fans realize that their team flops almost as much as Duke does? With the amount of mockery that UNC backers make of Duke players for tumbling whenever an opponent gets in the nearest area code, you would think that the Heels play defense by, you know, staying in front of their men and contesting shots. Instead, UNC is led by a 6'10 white guy who never tries to block shots, but instead flopped (by my count) five times on Saturday night. You're 6'10 and you draw charges instead of trying to block shots? How manly of you, Psycho-T. (Keep in mind that UNC was the first team I ever hated because my first sports allegiance was Virginia basketball in the early 80s when Ralph Sampson played for the Hoos, so I'm not entirely objective on this point.)
4. I might be the only person who thinks this, but Billy Packer, warts and all, isn't a bad color guy. He does go off on weird tangents, but the themes he drove home on Saturday night (Kansas's weak side defense was killing UNC) and last night (Derrick Rose needed to assert himself more, which he promptly did in the run that put Memphis ahead late) were spot on. Packer was also right when he noted that the Memphis players were leaning backwards on their late free throws. Generally speaking, Packer does not fall into the trap of deciding the story lines before the game. He actually pays attention and dissects what's going on on the court. Do the Packer haters not realize that that is actually somewhat rare these days? And isn't the fact that fans of every program consider Packer to be biased against their teams actually a sign that he's doing his job properly?
5. To my untrained eye, Kansas is a weird team. They have several good post players, several good lead guards, and relatively few dangerous swing men. They're the reverse of the Hawks. Isn't it much easier to find a swing man as opposed to a good point or center?
6. Maybe Florida has set the bar too high, but how many schools have had a better year in the two major sports than Kansas has this year? 12-1 and Orange Bowl champions in football; 37-3 and national champions in basketball.