“Burning the ground, I break from the crowd, I’m on the hunt.”
-Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”
The last time cats and dogs competed against each other to claim the NCAA Men’s Basketball championship was back in 1983, providing one of the most memorable moments in tournament history; frankly, in all of sports.
The last time an 8th-seeded team won a national championship, the lowest to ever do so, was in 1985 when Villanova completed one of the most amazing runs and colossal upsets in tournament history; frankly, in all of sports.
They too are the wildcats, how eerie.
So considering those two games, and the laziness of my research, the cats versus dogs series (Georgetown’s mascot is Jack the Bulldog) was tied at one entering last Monday’s final. The Huskies of UCONN tipped the series in favor of canines with their 60-54 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats. Led by senior point guard, Shabazz (yep, that’s his name) Napier, the Huskies dominated for the most part; surging to an impressive 15-point lead during the first half. The Wildcats cut the deficit to one point more than once; however, UCONN never trailed in the game. A sporadic second half provided great defense and excitement from both squads, but experience and efficiency prevailed over youth and athleticism. After a legend retired from coaching and a storied conference disbanded, the Huskies still continued to be part of college basketball royalty by winning their 4th National Title since 1999.
Now onto the women; the Lady Huskies won their millionth (9th to be exact) championship the day after the Connecticut men raised their trophy. The matches were similar: the women only trailed once in the game and jumped out to a big lead; however, as is in women’s college basketball, the end was a lopsided affair. UCONN defeated Notre Dame 79-58. Every game except for like 7 in the history of women’s college basketball has been a blowout.
This is the second time in history that a university has swept the men’s and women’s basketball championships. Guess which institute did it the first time? That’s right! UCONN during the 2003-2004 season. This is what pride is about though. Players fight for the ball and disregard their body, they are energetic, they are sporadic, they yell, they cry after a win and they cry after a loss, and they give the game everything they have. They aren’t competing for bonuses nor are they asking for trades or barking (Husky pun) for money they believe they deserve; they are just playing basketball, a game that’s dedicated to their school colors and bragging rights amongst all 345 Division-1 schools across America. It’s about pride, not money, so the games are more meaningful. It’s about stunning the nation and rewriting history, and it’s about kids being kids.
That’s why the NCAA does the emotional “One Shinning Moment” tribute at the end of the tournament, as the NBA would probably have a rap concert to celebrate followed by a ridiculous parade that’s not for a holiday or the gay community. Instead of a parade, college students riot on campus and get arrested.
It’s similar to the family bracket pool. Everyone would rather bet with their heart, give up a billion dollars just to choose and wishfully witness their alma mater or favorite team win a national championship. Rob won the Knauf family pool this; good for him, seriously, I’m not being sarcastic or bitter at all (maybe). He made a late run, pulled off the upset, and won his first championship and, most importantly, bragging rights for another year. See, he didn’t get a parade (riot pending though).
So what have we learned through this recap? Villanova remains the best 8th-seeded team in history, dogs have the upper paw on cats, women’s college basketball is lopsided, Rob is good at guessing things, and emotional tributes to kids doing what they love to do never get old.
CBS Sports. (2014).Retrieved from http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/gametracker/recap/NCAAB_20140407_UK@UCONN/connecticut-starts-out-strong-holds-off-kentucky-to-win-title on April 11, 2014
Conway, T. (2014). Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2022361-ncaa-womens-championship-game-2014-uconn-vs-notre-dame-score-and-recap#articles/2022361-ncaa-womens-championship-game-2014-uconn-vs-notre-dame-score-and-recap on April 11, 2014
Real Clear Sports. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.realclearsports.com/lists/lowest_seeds_to_win_championship/1985_villanova_wildcats.html?state=stop on April 11, 2014