Columnists, Sports

The Blue Line: One for the ages

Boston University undeniably won’t be going to the big dance any time soon. No, that ship sailed when star sophomore point guard Maurice Watson Jr., along with juniors Malik Thomas and James Kennedy, announced that they would be transferring. In addition to the three transfers, BU is losing three starting seniors — Dom Morris, D.J. Irving and Travis Robinson — to graduation.

Watson, who led the team in minutes, steals, assists and points per game, is undoubtedly on to bigger and better things.

After scoring a measly 36 points against American University in the Patriot League final, and after blowing a 17-point lead against the University of Illinois in the National Invitation Tournament to conclude the 2013-14 season, the team enters next year in a state of emergency. The team has lost five of its top seven scorers from last year, and the only players with any starting experience at all for next season’s Terriers are sophomores John Papale and Nathan Dieudonne.

But who cares about BU basketball at this stage of the tournament? One of the most exciting NCAA Tournaments ever just wrapped up. The NCAA title game was played between the No. 7 University of Connecticut seed and a No. 8 seed in the University of Kentucky.

Again, I say that this tournament has been a real thriller. I mean, my bracket finished up in the 22nd percentile, and I’m pretty okay with that. But, I could’ve done way better if North Carolina State University could hit a foul shot, or if JeQuan Lewis of Virginia Commonwealth University didn’t foul a Stephen F. Austin University 3-point attempt with less than five seconds left in regulation.
When Mercer University upset Duke University in the tournament’s opening round, I, along with 96.7 percent of people who filled out a bracket, laughed at myself for being so foolish. I obviously should’ve seen this upset coming. Duke wasn’t even that good, anyway.

The first round of the 2014 NCAA tournament was truly historic. ESPN analysts, crazed fans, statisticians and players alike were left scratching their heads at the outcomes of many first round games. Five games in the first round went to overtime, and there were a total of eight upsets. In fact, there was only one perfect bracket after tournament’s round of 64 this year, and it was not submitted in Warren Buffet’s contest for one billion dollars.

Besides UConn and Kentucky, the final two teams in the tournament, there were certainly a number of Cinderella stories.

The University of Dayton had an extremely successful tournament, as they paved their way to the Elite Eight for just the second time in school history. En route to their loss to the University of Florida in the Elite Eight, the Flyers knocked off Ohio State University, Syracuse University and Stanford University, another prime example of an underdog story

Stanford upset the University of New Mexico in the first round, much to the chagrin of many “bracketologists.” Stanford’s truly remarkable work came next round, though, when the Cardinal defeated the No. 2 seeded the University of Kansas Jayhawks.

Now to the real Cinderella stories. The UConn Huskies and Kentucky Wildcats both share something in common — each team upset three top-four seeds en route to the championship game. This had only been done three times before in history, and it is the first time that two teams have accomplished it in the same year. To put all of this into perspective, .0000551 percent of brackets filled out this year contained the correct Final Four.

UConn point guard Shabazz Napier was simply unstoppable in the rounds leading up to the final against Kentucky. Napier’s Huskies are not only the first No. 7 seed to reach the Final Four, but now the first team to reach the final. In fact, this is only the third time in tournament history that two seven-seeded teams or higher have even reached the Final Four at the same time.

I have deemed this year’s Kentucky Wildcats the “team of destiny.” Kentucky’s wins over No. 1 seed Wichita State University, No. 4 seed University of Louisville, No. 2 seed University of Michigan and No. 2 seed University of Wisconsin have been perhaps the most exhilarating games of the entire tournament. Each of these games ended with a winning shot (two of which were 3-pointers) coming in the final seconds of regulation.

Even more impressive is the fact that the Wildcats are the first team in tournament history to defeat the reigning champions (Louisville) and tournament runner-up (Michigan) in the same year.

Freshman Aaron Harrison may actually be an angel in disguise, as he has guided the Wildcats to the land of college basketball milk and honey through unrivaled, miraculous last-second heroics. Just when you think Kentucky is knocked out, Harrison lifts his team out of jaws of defeat. It’s absolutely incredible.

No matter the outcome of the title game, it’s been a tournament for the ages. Even though my bracket suffered alongside most of the nation, I could not have wished for a more entertaining tournament.

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