Stepping Up: My Take: The madness is over

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Many fans across the state were stunned late last night as Ryan Arcidiacono dropped off a pass to Kris Jenkins, who put up the game winning 3-pointer at the buzzer to earn Villanova its first national championship in 31 years. Tar Heel fans were elated moments earlier as Marcus Paige hoisted up a double-pump shot from long range to tie the game at 74 apiece with 4.7 seconds left on the clock. That sheer joy turned into silent disappointment in a matter of seconds, reminding everyone exactly how painful sports can be sometimes.

It was also an effective reminder of how beautiful they can be. The finish rivaled Lorenzo Charles’ tip-in dunk that won NC State the 1983 title and Christian Laettner’s “The Shot” that lifted Duke to the 1992 Final Four.

Now that one of arguably the best college basketball games is in the books and ‘Nova stands tall as champion, thus ends another March Madness. The NCAA Tournament was packed with exciting action, even though most of it was condensed in the early rounds and the championship game. The opening round featured upsets such as Little Rock knocking off Purdue, Stephen F. Austin edging West Virginia and, most notably, Middle Tennessee beating a championship favorite in Michigan State. There were thrillers like Northern Iowa’s half-court buzzer beater to defeat Texas. Then, in the next round, there was Texas A&M’s incredible comeback to beat Northern Iowa in overtime. Wisconsin upset Xavier, too.

The excitement subsided from there, though. Most of the Sweet 16 games were one sided, with the exception of a thrilling game between No. 10 Syracuse and No. 11 Gonzaga. The Elite Eight had a little more entertainment thanks to two-possession wins by Villanova and Syracuse, each knocking off favorites in Kansas and Virginia, respectively.

Then there were two incredibly lopsided games in the Final Four. Villanova beat Oklahoma by 44 points and North Carolina cruised to a 17-point win over Syracuse.

Thankfully, the championship game was one of the best ever. It ended the tournament on the right note. It had all the bells and whistles of a classic from lead changes to an unbelievable final 10 seconds.

From top to bottom, the tournament embodied the crazy regular season that preceded it. March Madness may be over now, but there’s still plenty of excitement to come in the sports world. The MLB just started back up, The Masters begins on Thursday and NBA and NHL playoffs are right around the corner.

Each sport may have its offseason, but does the madness ever really go away?