March Madness is pretty crazy, right?
We go nuts when our team’s down at the half, insane when Cinderella shows, but we are classified clinical right before we bubble in our blank bracket.
We think we can be perfect.
On a scale of bragging rights to billions, there’s plenty of incentive to pick perfection. There’s just no way… well… there’s a chance it happens. Just not on the watch of both the Villanova’s and the Valparaiso’s.
Last year’s challenge by Warren Buffet was ixnayed not after the round of 32, not even the first Sunday, but by opening Friday night.
Even so, when you looked at your printout page from CBS Sports or your Smartphone screen on ESPN, admit it, even for a millisecond, you thought “This is my year!”
No, it’s not.
Still, thanks to 68 teams playing 67 games and 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 total possible outcomes*, you will join us very soon.
*That is 9.2 quintillion, and yes, it’s a real number with a definition in the dictionary and not something made up by a kindergartener.
And even though the countless paths could drive you mad, only one ending this season seems to make sense.
While the notion of perfection escapes us, it encompasses Kentucky. The top Cats entered March like a lion at 34-0. Experts expect them to go out like a champ at 40-0.
Since he changed his address and the game in 2009-10, John Calipari, King of the One-&-Dones, has returned the College Hoops kingdom to Lexington. Shifting mercenaries in-and-out of his roster has Kentucky boasting five top-ranked recruiting classes in seven years** and 15 NBA first round picks in the last five.*** More importantly for Big Blue Nation, the era’s earned three Final Fours and the 2012 National Championship.
**UCLA (2012) and Duke (2014) held top overall grades in the lone years UK didn’t. The Wildcats ranked second each season.
***From 2000-09, Kentucky had four total first rounders. In these same five years, Kansas is second (8).
Each October, we’re reminded that Cal has a goal within him not just to win, but to never lose. UK wears their expectations for all to see, and unlike the past, this year’s shirts actually mean something.
Sure, Buffalo and Columbia led at the half at Rupp. Yeah, OT and OTs were needed hosting Mississippi and in College Station respectively. But through Thursday, 35 times the Wildcats took the floor and 35 times they took the W.
This group is that: a group. No player scores over 12 PPG. Only three average double-digits. Only five games have seen a 20-point scorer.
UK’s success stems from their depth. This team is less suited for basketball; they act like hockey lines switching in and out. They all aspire to play at the next level yet are all focused on the next game.
March Madness is crazy, yet pushes for perfection deserve padded rooms. It’s been 39 years since the 1976 Indiana Hooisers capped the last unblemished campaign, going 32-0 in a 32 team tourney. No program has matched their loss column since.
11 squads have made it to the dance clean, where their dreams, like our brackets, are busted.
|Team||Record||Round Lost||Teams in Tourney|
|1||1950-51 Columbia||21-1||1st Rd||16|
|2||1960-61 Ohio St.||27-1||Championship (OT)||24|
|3||1967-68 Houston||31-2||Final Four, 3rd Place||23|
|4||1967-68 St. Bonaventure||23-2||Sweet 16, East 3rd||23|
|5||1970-71 Marquette||28-1||Sweet 16||25|
|6||1970-71 Penn||28-1||Elite 8||25|
|7||1974-75 Indiana||31-1||Elite 8||32|
|8||1975-76 Rutgers||31-2||Final 4, 3rd Place||32|
|9||1978-79 Indiana St.||33-1||Championship||40|
|10||1990-91 UNLV||34-1||Final Four||64|
|11||2013-14 Wichita St.||35-1||Round of 32||68|
You’ll notice and likely already remembered last year’s Wichita St. Shockers, the previous perfect program popped from history. You’ll also likely remember their first, only, and final loss that ended their season came against an eight-seed… Kentucky.
An Aaron Harrison–late dramatics–Sam Cassell approved-“One Shinning Moment” fueling-dream run to the championship game gassed out against UConn. Even if BBN expected it, the Wildcats weren’t supposed to be there. It wasn’t Kentucky’s time yet.
You just can’t rush perfection.