There was a lot of drama in this year’s NCAA Men basketball. There were upsets. There was a billion-dollar bracket challenge that ended up with no winners. Then there was an improbable championship game pitting a seventh seed over an eighth seed team. It was a UConn versus University of Kentucky finals. And in the end, the UConn Huskies took the championship 60-54, becoming the first seventh-seeded team to win the title.
It was an interesting championship game with lots of back stories. UConn is just a year removed from being banned for two years from March Madness because of poor academic performance. Their head coach and a big cog of the UConn basketball program, Jim Calhoun, retired midway in the basketball season of 2012. The Huskies have a lot to prove coming into this year’s March Madness.
On the other side, there is the University of Kentucky Wildcats, coached by John Calipari. The team was considered interesting since it is comprised of all freshmen starters. They were also considered as “one and done” players who are thinking of heading to the NBA draft after just a year of playing in college, a recruiting strategy by the coach. The Wildcats, despite their young core with relative inexperience, proved their mettle and headed into the Championship game, a rare time when a freshmen-led team was able to reach the penultimate game of the tournament.
But as the championship game started, experience proved to be a valuable asset for a championship-bound team. The UConn Huskies showed their defense mettle as they shut down the Wildcat scorers. They toughened up and showed grit and efficiency with their offense. As a result, the Huskies never gave up the lead for the rest of the game, leading by as much as 15 at the end of the first half.
But the Wildcats never gave up and tried to come back. They showed grit and determination as they trimmed down the deficit to just one with 8:13 left in the game. But it was as close as the Wildcats can get. The three point shots that won the previous games for the Wildcats was not there this time. They also were struggling in the free throw line, making only 54 percent of their freebies at 13 for 24. The Huskies meanwhile made it 10 for 10.
All in all, the new NCAA 2014 men’s basketball champions have shown their hunger after being barred from the tournament the previous year. Despite the drama they have been through the past few years, they made it to the top and gave UConn its fourth national title. They were the second lowest ranked team to take the championship is recent years, since eighth seeded Villanova did it in 1985.