April 05, 2022
The NCAA Men’s Tournament is officially over as the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 72-69 last night. The win marked the biggest comeback in championship history after Kansas was down 16 points during the first half. This marks the second NCAA title for coach Bill Self, who led the team to the title victory in 2008. Kansas was initially seeded No. 1 in the Midwest and had won the tournament three times (1952, 1988, and 2008), while being runner up six times. The University of North Carolina (UNC) was seeded No. 8 in the East, which tied for the lowest-ranked team to reach the final since seeding began in the late 1970’s. UNC has reached the Final Four 21 times, the most in college basketball history, and has been to the final 11 times, including 6 championships, and 3 were under head coach Roy Williams.
An interesting note was both coaches in this year’s final succeeded Roy Williams. Over his 33 years as head coach Williams spent 15 seasons at Kansas (1988 – 2003). Williams missed the tournament the first year, then led the Jayhawks to 14 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and two national championship games (no title). Williams was succeeded by Bill Self, who has now won 2 championships and 15 regular-season Big 12 titles, including an NCAA-record 14-straight (2005-18). During his 18 seasons (2004-2021) at UNC, Williams won 3 championships (2005, 2009, and 2017). Williams is one of five coaches in college basketball history to achieve 900+ wins as a head coach, and his 903 victories surpassed UNC’s Dean Smith on the all-time list. UNC head coach Hubert Davis served as an assistant coach for the Tar Heels from 2012 until Williams’ retirement. Going to the championship game his first year is not a bad start.
Now that the tournament is over, I know what you are really wondering is how my brackets turned out. I previously mentioned out of the 17.3 million brackets, all had at least one wrong prediction after the opening weekend. The best score out of my five online brackets was 660. By comparison, the two winners scored 1710 out of the possible 1920 points. There are 6 rounds to the NCAA tournament and a player is awarded points based on picking the winner of each game in each round. Each correct winner is multiplied by 10 and then the totals of the six rounds are added to achieve the final score. ESPN compiles a “peoples” bracket of all the entries before the start of the tournament and it also busted. My best bracket ranked 3,774,597th. Close, right?
THOUGHTS: While I play for fun, there are some who play the tournament brackets hoping to win. At the end of each round (Round of 64, Round of 32, Sweet Sixteen, Elite 8, Final Four, Championship Game) the top scoring individual entries from that round are added to an overall sweepstakes pool drawn at the end of the tournament. A random drawing from the pool entries accumulated through the tournament is selected as the Grand Prize winner of $100,000. I did not win. I have heard, “winning isn’t everything” was coined by somebody who lost. There are times I play hoping to win, times I play for fun, and times when I have no choice. During the pandemic I have had no choice. Like my brackets, while I have yet to win, obeying the rules has kept me from a loss. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.