What to learn from madness of tournament
by Mike Lopresti, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA – In the end, the hot-blooded college basketball regular season was not lying. The tournament was on the flighty side, too, which is how its governing body should want it. Monday night was the NCAA’s senior prom, with compelling stories on both sides, and hasn’t it been a swell party?
Alas, if only the news were that good everywhere.
As Louisville and Michigan answered the final bell Monday to cheers, what to make of the contrasting plight of the group in charge? The NCAA’s bright nights, and its dark days?
Its showcase event has never seemed grander.
Its challenges never more daunting.
The NCAA Tournament is embedded in the national culture. For every citizen, a vote and a bracket.
Meanwhile, the NCAA itself is questioned and doubted. For every voice, it seems, a complaint.
Its tournament has forged a passionate connection to the outside world.
At the precise same moment, the NCAA faces its own cold disconnect with public, media and, too often, membership.
The masses reach for their television remotes when the tournament appears. The ratings are boffo, the stories charming, the interest intense. Popularity reigns, even with the media.
When president Mark Emmert gave his state-of-the-NCAA news conference last week, neither charm nor popularity was in the air. His bid to be heard began with a 17-minute soliloquy that covered more than 2,700 words – roughly 14 minutes and 2,400 words longer than the Gettysburg Address, and not nearly as well received. Then the testy exchanges began.
It is striking, how the flavor of an event that is the very foundation of an organization, can be so unlike the organization itself. How there is contrast around every corner.
At the gut level, the tournament is about finding something or someone to believe in.
Believe in Louisville’s Russ Smith or Michigan’s Trey Burke. Believe in the Syracuse zone. Believe in Wichita State. Believe in might, or believe … [For more on Lopresti: What to learn from madness of the tournament, click here.]