The unbeaten Connecticut and Notre Dame teams hooked up in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship game Tuesday night in Nashville.
Monday night in Arlington, TX, their male counterparts from Connecticut and Kentucky took a combined 18 defeats into their title game.
That speaks heavily to the competitive balance – at least for the 2013-14 season, that is – that is college basketball (of the men’s variety).
Of the men’s tourney’s 67 games, seven were decided in overtime and 14 others by margins of five or fewer points – eight of those by two or fewer points, including Kentucky’s gut-churning 74-73 decision over Wisconsin in a Final Four semifinal Saturday night.
With a combined two (Florida), four (Arizona), six (Virginia) and zero (Wichita State) regular-season losses, the NCAA Championship Committee got it right, IMHO, in terms of the No. 1 seeds in the 68-team bracket.
But once the tourney starts, seeds – in many ways – are irrelevant, as eight (Kentucky) and seven (Connecticut) seeds demonstrated over three weeks.
Here my choices for a 10-player “All-NCAA Tournament Team” (selection criteria being that each player must have advanced to at least the Sweet 16 round), followed by the final “Power 16” of 2013-14:
Most Outstanding Player: Shabazz Napier/Connecticut (shocking, eh?)
DeAndre Daniels/Connecticut (was the X factor, for sure, in the title run)
Aaron Gordon/Arizona (came up just short of a trip to last weekend)
Aaron Harrison/Kentucky (scintillating jump shots vs. Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin)
Frank Kaminsky/Wisconsin (are the Badgers preseason No. 1 next fall?)
Adreian Payne/Michigan State (a near-monster for first 2 ½ games of the tourney)
Julius Randle/Kentucky (an impressive season was taken for granted by many)
Nik Stauskus/Michigan (the Big Ten’s POY played like it in three tourney games)
Jarnell Stokes/Tennessee (averaged 18.0 points and 12.8 rebounds in four tourney games)
Scottie Wilbekin/Florida (Just ran into a better senior point guard Saturday night in Texas)
Final Power 16
5.Wichita State (35-1)
8.Michigan State (29-9)
12.San Diego State (31-5)
14.Iowa State (28-8)
NEXT 16 (alpha): Baylor 26-12, Cincinnati 27-7, Creighton 27-8, Dayton 26-11, Gonzaga 29-7, Harvard 27-5, Memphis 24-10, New Mexico 27-7, North Carolina 24-10, Ohio State 25-10, Oklahoma State 21-13, Pittsburgh 26-10, Saint Louis 27-7, Stanford 23-13, Tennessee 24-13 and UCLA 28-9.