My Tournament Recap: Aaron Craft or Parmesan Bread Bites?

I love the NCAA tournament, but aside from the two upsets of Duke and Missouri, this tournament was mundane to say the least. There were no buzzer-beaters, no incredible cinderella stories and no transcendent, sustained performances from a single player. Even Jim Nantz could not come up with a good pun to end the National Championship, which is usually something America can count on.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the tournament immensely. The basic reason is because, well, I always love the tournament. But here are five specific reasons why the 2012 tournament was not a complete loss:

1. Findlay, Ohio had a breakout performance

Aaron Craft hails from the town of Findlay, Ohio, and if you want to see incredible on-ball defending, just watch Craft. There have been many good on-ball defenders in the college game (Travis Walton, Venoy Overton, Zaire Taylor, Darren Collison, Kyle Weaver and Errol Knight are just a few examples off the top of my head), but Craft is by far the best I have ever seen. In the game against Syracuse he had six steals and caused four others. If you had been following basketball all year, Craft’s performance in the tournament would not have been a surprise, but Ohio State’s tournament run introduced him to the world.

But here is the question, which Findlay, Ohio product would you rather have: Aaron Craft or the Dominos Parmesan  Bread Bites? The creator of the Bread Bites, who also hails from Findlay, has been immortalized forever after the oft-aired commercial made many appearances throughout the month. With an average score of 4/5 stars (and an 82% approval rating!), his Bread Bites have been a hit! Personally, I would choose Craft, but Findlay has never had two options this good in the entire history of the town. Actually, most towns have never had two options like this.

2. Jim Boeheim did not make the Final Four. I do not want to go too in-depth, but he has always been one of my least favorite coaches. Maybe it is because he is one of the most egregious cranks in the history of the game. Maybe it is because his teams (other than the Carmelo year) never live up to expectations. The fact that they were on the cusp of the Final Four without Fab Melo while weathering the Bernie Fine scandal and drug scandal is a testament to his coaching, I admit. I just still don’t like him, so thank you Ohio State for knocking the Orange out!

3. Good Basketball Prevailed

Kentucky won the tournament for three reasons.

One, Mr. Unibrow is one of the best college players we will ever see. His ability to affect the game on both ends was incredible to watch. He kept blocks in play. He rebounded the ball superbly on offense. He developed his hook shots as the season progressed.

Two, They were the most talented team by far. The only team that could have matched their talent was Carolina, but after losing their most important player to a broken wrist, the title was even more clearly Kentucky’s to lose. Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist will most likely be the top two picks in the NBA draft if they leave school as expected. Terrence Jones is a lottery pick. Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb have NBA talent. Darius Miller was the ultimate glue player. Kyle Wiltjer was the token “White Guy Who Can Shoot Threes and Shoot Threes Only” that every good team must have.

Three, Kentucky played team basketball. A large chunk of this has to be attributed to coaching. Calipari brought in four freshman this year, three who played significant minutes, and yet this team played cohesive basketball and won 38 games. The players bought into team defense (#9 in defensive efficiency on KenPom.com), which is always easier when Anthony Davis anchors the middle but still, and unselfish offense (#2 in offensive efficiency).

All of the teams who made it to the Final Four played great team basketball. Kansas could not have made it without a cohesive effort on offense. Ditto for Ohio State. SUPER DITTO for Louisville. Teams like UNLV, Duke and UConn were all out early because of selfish play and a lack of an offensive philosophy. Teams such as Indiana, Wisconsin and Syracuse made deep runs because of team play. I love seeing team basketball, and maybe part of the reason is because the team I support does not play team basketball at all.

4. Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson

These two played hard all year and gave us wonderful performances in the championship game. Seeing the two best players in the country step up on the biggest stage was excellent to see, especially after T-Rob tried to start some beef by saying he was the Player of the Year. Anthony Davis had something to say about that claim, posting a 16 board, 6 block, 5 assist and 3 steal performance. The stats don’t back up how dominate Davis truly was, but they do begin to tell the story.

5. One Shining Moment

It never disappoints, and it always makes me sad that I have to wait almost seven months for more college basketball. Don’t be afraid to shed a tear with me.

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