GLENDALE, Ariz. - Gonzaga is a late second-half meltdown in its final regular-season game against BYU from entering Monday's national championship game unbeaten. From Nov. 11 through April 1, the Bulldogs (37-1) really have been America's most consistent team. They have bad stretches in games, but hardly any bad games.
WHEN THERE are just 60 possessions in a game, every last one is important. Villanova, which had been playing from behind all game Saturday against Wisconsin in Buffalo, had it down, it turned out, to just eight possessions with five minutes left. 'Nova, despite its starting frontcourt shooting just 3-for-15 and its offense never really in rhythm, had somehow managed a 57-50 lead.
- Poll Can Villanova make an NCAA run next season? (5782 votes)
I CALLED every 2016 first-round upset except Middle Tennessee over Michigan State (still have no clue how that happened) and Stephen F. Austin over West Virginia (thought seriously about it) on the way to 29-3. If I ever come close to that again, I will consider myself fortunate. My picks won just about every photo finish. That generally does not happen twice.
After making a mess of the 2016 bracket, but somehow ending up with the two teams that played the best in an epic final, the tournament selection committee was much more logical in its at-large selections, seeding and regional placement this year, with a few exceptions.
- Poll Will Villanova win it all again? (2522 votes)
I DON'T REMEMBER a stronger group of players in one Big 5 Hall of Fame class than Jameer Nelson (Saint Joseph's), Lynn Greer (Temple), Randy Foye (Villanova) and Ibrahim Jaaber (Penn). They combined for 7,677 points, 1,887 assists, 1,992 rebounds and 953 steals.
VILLANOVA HAS had great players, going back to Hall of Famer Paul Arizin, who played from 1947-50, through Hubie White, Wali Jones, Howard Porter, Bill Melchionni, John Pinone, Ed Pinckney, Kerry Kittles, Randy Foye and Scottie Reynolds. The Wildcats have had first-team All-Americas and have eight 2,000-point scorers. What 'Nova has never had is a national Player of the Year.
Dick Jerardi specializes in college basketball and horse racing. He has covered every Triple Crown race since 1987 and every NCAA Tournament since 1988, in addition to chronicling the careers of two National College Basketball Players of the Year, La Salle's Lionel Simmons (1990) and St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson (2004). He’s also covered many major events, including the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and 2001 NBA Finals.