Final Four, final words


Sitting here, trying to decide if -- based upon Michigan State's showing against North Carolina in the NCAA championship gane -- they should just award the runnerup spot to Villanova....
You go to enough NCAA Tournament games, you gather a few memories. Many of the games are over-coached, the players left to try to function while wearing handcuffs. But then there are others, games featuring explosions that you cannot forget.

I can remember being at the Palestra, at the first NCAA Tournament game I ever saw in person. It was La Salle against Villanova in 1978 and it was an absolute knife fight. You can imagine what it was like in the building that day, hot, hell, a Big 5 game whose winner would head to the Sweet 16. It still might be the best first half I’ve ever seen: La Salle 49, Villanova 46. (Villanova ended up winning.)
Then there was the Danny Manning championship game in 1988, Kansas against Oklahoma in Kansas City. The atmosphere was outrageous and the level of play matched the moment. It was a night when no one was going to corral the emotions or the abilities of the players on the floor. Halftime that night was 50-50.


 Monday night was not like that, not at all, but it was beautiful in its own way. Carolina was that good. It's 55 points in the first half against Michigan State was a championship game record. They have every piece: inside (Tyler Hansbrough), outside (Wayne Elllington), igniter (Ty Lawson).

It was a bad game but that was memorable.