Shoutouts to March Madness

This is the second edition of “Shoutouts,” a column where I rank the top moments of the month that was.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be the top plays (because ESPN has that locked down already) but can range from all types of events.  Here is my first edition “Shoutouts,” to familiarize anyone who is curious. However, this month it’ll just be a dedication to the NCAA Tournament because that’s what March is all about.

10. To start off pre-tournament, Shoutout to the referees who completely stopped officiating during the last five seconds of the Rutgers-St. John’s game. Then, as punishment, they sat out the rest of the Big East Tournament.  There is nothing more frustrating in sports then refs determining the game like this, there’s not much else to say. (Unless I was Cris Carter, then I’d say “C’MON MAAAAN!”)

9. This was also during the Big East Tournament, but it has to be mentioned. Shoutout goes to Gary McGhee’s ruined image.  After Kemba Walker hit you with that disgusting step back, there will be an everlasting image of your “broken ankles” which caused you to fall and give Walker the open shot, which he so eloquently sank. It’s one of countless plays made by Walker this year while leading his team to the National Championship. He was robbed of Player of the Year honors. Side note: it’s impossible to watch that video only once.

8.  Shoutout to the first day of the tournament.  It was an exciting day of basketball and with no clear-cut dominant team it allowed for a little unpredictability in the tournament, which is good for the NCAA every once in a while. (Like Morehead St. who as a 13 seed beat 4 seed Louisville)

7.  Shoutout to everyone’s bracket, R.I.P.  If you picked the UConn-Butler final, then you are in the 99.9999999999 percentile and should play the lottery as soon as possible.  Having said that, you also should be ashamed of yourself for picking a terrible and overly disappointing national championship game (I’m sorry, I had to get that off my chest.) which will be mentioned later.

6. Shoutout to Jimmer Fredette  who is going to be the Caucasians’ hope of a good white American basketball player when he leaves for the NBA draft. He scored 32 points in an overtime loss against the Florida Gators in the Sweet 16. I understand he had no help after his center, Brandon Davies got suspended and if Jimmer doesn’t pan out in the NBA, hey at least we own the 30 foot jump-shot called “Jimmer Range” (Just a thought, is Jimmer Fredette nearly as popular if his name is James or Jimmy? Think about it.)

5. Shoutout goes to another bizarre officiating call during the Butler-Pittsburgh game.  With less than two seconds left, Butler’s Matt Howard got the rebound after a missed free throw. At that time, Nasir Robinson (again I wish I was Cris Carter here) grabbed him to try and knock the ball loose.  Howard smartly pretended to shoot causing the ref to call a foul.  But, Howard was only 94 feet away from the basket and had no intentions of shooting the ball. Put the whistles away; let the game go to overtime.  Anyone sense the irony? Rutgers-St. John’s referees stop officiating too early, Butler-Pitt went until the last second. (It’s here you tell me to stop complaining.)

4. Shoutout to Derrick Williams of Arizona.  Besides Walker, Williams had the best tournament and solidified his being a top lottery pick in the NBA draft.  He averaged 22.8 points and 9 rebounds a game and single handedly kept Arizona in the game against Duke (he had 25 in the first half and finished with 32 for the game), solid. Just let this sum up his tournament.

3. Shoutout to the Virginia Commonwealth Rams.  It’s always commendable when an 11 seed rides a wave into the Final Four especially when that team has to win a play-in game just to become a part of the field of 64 (something most people didn’t even think they deserved in the first place).  It’s a testament to good coaching and as well as the players battled, Shaka Smart, the head coach deserves credit too. VCU did that which is how it should be.  Too bad they won’t ever be a factor again, zing.

2. Shoutout to the Butler Bulldogs who, come next year, are officially out as underdogs during the tournament. After losing a player, Gordon Hayward, to the NBA in 2010, Butler returned to the championship game in 2011.  Brad Stevens, the head coach is the hottest commodity in college basketball right now because of his ability to adjust to matchups and coach his team to consecutive National Championship appearances is ridiculous, and he did it at a mid-major.  If he went to a power school like Ohio St. or UConn (Jim Calhoun is expected to retire, hmmm verrrry interesting.), he would have to be a favorite to win a title.

1. Of the top things that happened during March Madness, there is one that definitely sticks out the most. It’s very unfortunate that it has to come to this. Shoutout goes to the University of Connecticut for winning its third title and sending Calhoun out like a rock star. BUT, this also gets a Shoutout for the worst National Championship ever. Wait let me emphasize it, evvvverrrrrrrrr.  22-19 after the first half, terrible. Yes, the defense was good but Butler shot 12 for 64? That’s 18.8 percent, ridiculous. This may have proven that mid-majors can’t compete.   The final score was 53-41 and the right team won.  But, I don’t think Walker’s game is going to translate well in the NBA.   He is too small to play any other position but point guard and yet his best play comes off the dribble. I just don’t see it happening.

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