Now that March Madness is over and done with, we can take a look back at the unofficial winners and losers of the 2013 NCAA basketball tournament. Unofficial in that, although only one team, and one coach, could win the national championship, many would still go home either satisfied because they gained something in defeat, or doubly disappointed because they lost and probably made an idiot of themselves in the process. The list features both.
Winner: Andy Enfield
Never before has one man parlayed so much by reaching the Sweet 16. We all know his story by now. He spurned a filthy rich career doing some kind of nerd work in New York City to follow his heart by being a basketball coach. Somewhere in between then and landing at Florida Gulf Coast, he married a professional model.
Then he became the first coach to lead a 15-seed to the Sweet 16. Then he accepted an offer from USC that will reportedly net him around 1.5 million per year. So now he makes the switch from one sunny, ocean-side recruiting hotbed to another sunny, ocean-side recruiting hotbed. Can’t decide whether to be jealous or just shoot myself.
Loser: Florida Gulf Coast
They alley-ooped their way to the Sweet 16 with enough playground flair to make everyone forget that they totally f***ed everyone’s bracket by beating Georgetown. Then they eventually ran into a Florida team with a competent defense and lost. But it was fun while it lasted, so nobody cared.
Now what? Their coach bolted the second he saw the USC’s dollar signs. They lost arguably their best player (Sherwood Brown) to graduation. Not saying the won the battle but lost the war, but it’s gonna be mighty difficult to keep the momentum going next year.
Winner: Wichita State
They were a 9-seed, and they advanced to the Final Four. They dispatched the top two teams in their region, Gonzaga and Ohio State, by doing exactly what lower seeds are supposed to do to even out talent disparities against higher seeds: rebound, defend, slow the pace of play until it resembles a half-court game, and make clutch shots down the stretch.
We never anointed them the title of a true Cinderella. And they never accepted it. For their sake, that would’ve been an insult. A true Cinderella needs luck to advance. There was nothing lucky about their run. As far as mid-majors go, FGC got all the headlines, but the Shockers got the glory.
After another early-round tournament exit, at what point do Gonzaga fans look at being a perennial lock to rack up 25 regular season victories and win the West Coast Conference and say “So what?”. They’ve enjoyed their time over this past decade-and-a-half as America’s little mid-major darling, but if they want the kind of respect they think they deserve, they’re gonna have to do better than one Elite Eight appearance in the last 14 years.
Winner: Mitch McGary
If you’re like me, you didn’t pick Michigan to make it out of the South region because you figured that their lack of an inside post presence would catch up with them eventually. They couldn’t rebound, and they couldn’t defend the paint. At least not on an elite level. Bad combination, right?
Right. Except it didn’t catch up with them, because freshman forward Mitch McGary came out of nowhere to temporarily morph into a poor man’s Kevin Love. As a result, his draft stock skyrocketed to the point of some scouts labeling him a potential first round pick. Not bad at all for a guy who didn’t even start until his team’s tournament opener.
Loser: Sports Illustrated
America’s self-indulgent overreaction to Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury culminated in Sports Illustrated featuring him lying on the court for their April 8th issue cover story. Even worse, if you look on the bottom right corner, you’ll see senior writer Luke Winn’s lead-in headline read “Inside Louisville’s Amazing, Inspiring Run to the Final Four”. Umm…what???
They were a #1 seed, Luke, and the pre-tournament favorite to win it all. I don’t think “amazing” and “inspiring” are the right words to describe them doing what everybody figured they would do in the first place.
Winner: Kevin Ware
He’s accrued so much goodwill by not landing on his two feet properly that he could probably kidnap a toddler right now and everybody would just keep asking him how his leg is doing. Would Louisville have gone on to win it all had he not accidentally spiked himself and inspire the whole team to cry mid-game like Len Bias OD’d all over again?
Yeah, probably. I mean, they won, so…they didn’t need him that badly. They probably didn’t need the whole “let’s-do-it-for-Kevin” extra motivation, either, but whatever.
Loser: Capital One
Nobody makes the same fuss about March Madness commercials that they do for Super Bowl commercials, but the tournament’s still a HUGE national sporting event, so you’d figure companies and sponsors would break out the big guns and get creative for that kind of ad space.
And then you see a bunch of asinine Capital One commercials, like this one featuring Alec Baldwin not being as funny as he was on 30 Rock, Greg Anthony pretending he’s still as funny as he was on 30 Rock, and Charles Barkley patenting his “if-I-do-this-nobody-will-care-if-I-get-caught-again-drunk-driving-to-get-sex” face. Speaking of Sir Charles…
Winner: Charles Barkley!
These days he doesn’t really analyze basketball so much as smile, laugh, and act as the ass-end of everyone’s fat joke, so in exchange he can get away with saying whatever he wants about anything he wants. But even so, his predictions still come true more than any other analyst he’s sharing the table with. Example: he intimated that Louisville would handle Duke when everybody else said it would go down to the wire. Final score? 85-63.
It wasn’t just your imagination: the scoring was down this year. Waaaaaaay down. The lowest it’s been since the invention of the shot clock in 1987. So what gives? Greater parity? Lesser depth of talent? Nah, not really. As usual, the refs just plain sucked.
They called fewer fouls, which allowed players to hand check and arm block with more impunity, which resulted in fewer points. On top of that, they couldn’t seem to agree on what constituted a charge. They couldn’t seem to agree on anything, actually, which led to minutes upon minutes of tortuous video review.
Creating them is Louisville’s thing—their one thing that they do better than anybody. There’s a dozen different reasons they won, but the biggest is their ability to make you look stupid trying to inbound the ball and advance it past half-court against them. Their press is like adding an NOS switch to a Nissan GT-R.
Loser: Jalen Rose’s mustache
How does he get away with it? It’s disgraceful. It’s so bad it’s beyond categorization. It’s not quite Prince, and not quite Ludacris. Not quite effeminate. Not quite gangsta. It’s like Jalen Rose is secretly one of those people who are obsessed with how their eyebrows look, so they keep plucking at them until they look minimal and colored on. Except in his case it’s his unbelievably bad mustache.
Can’t admit March Madness is over? See whose head is on a pike in NCAA Basketball Teams as Game Of Thrones Characters or find out How to Use March Madness to Talk to Your Girlfriend about The Bachelor.