As soon as I finished saying yesterday that perhaps one should not be hasty in proclaiming the Villanova/UNC game as “the best final game in history”, I figured that I would get snarky comments about being older than dirt and complaining that kids were always on my lawn. Indeed, I was tempted to try to forestall some of them by announcing that I had changed locales for yesterday’s rant from Curmudgeon Central to Geezer Gulch. What I did not expect was to get an e-mail from the reader in Houston who is my font of knowledge on sports history and sports gambling. I have never met him, but from comments he has made over time, I figure that he and I are “of a similar age” and that he has a better memory – and database – than I do.
Here is the text of his message to me:
“Was the UNC/Villanova Final Game on Monday night the best NCAA final Game ever?”
“You hit the nail right on the head when you wrote, ‘Do not allow the folks who produce sports talk radio or the ‘splashy’ ESPN TV shows to make you think that anything that happened before 1980 never really happened.’
“It’s a shame that hardly anybody alive saw or remembers the 1950 game at MSG between unranked CCNY and #1 Bradley. Actually CCNY had beaten Bradley the week before in the NIT Final also at MSG. (CCNY was a last minute invite.) In those 3 weeks, CCNY beat #12 San Francisco, #3 Kentucky, #6 Duquesne, and #1 Bradley. Then in the 8-team NCAA, they beat #2 Ohio State, #5 NC State, and #1 Bradley again.
“The 1953 NCAA Final saw Indiana beat Kansas by a point in KC. Kansas missed three shots in the last 10 seconds to win it. (Dean Smith was a benchwarmer for KU.)
“You mentioned the 1957 classic in KC between Kansas and NC.
“In 1959, California beat WVU by a point on a Darrell Inhoff tip-in followed by him blocking Jerry West’s attempted winner.
“In 1961, Cincy beat undefeated defending champ OSU (with four future NBAers and Bobby Knight – Lucas, Havlicek, and Knight are Hall of Famers) in OT.
“In 1963, Loyola came from 15 down with 14 minutes left to beat two-time defending champ Cincy on a Vic Rouse tip-in. That was the first Championship Game in which a majority of starters (7) were black. Eat your heart out Texas Western.
“But since those games weren’t on National TV, were not part of what we now know as “March Madness”, etc., it’s like they never happened except maybe to fans of the respective schools/teams.
“As far as recent best games go, how about Duke-Butler, which ended with Haywood missing the three-pointer to end the game. Butler was a 7.5 point dog. In 1999, UConn was a 9.5 point dog to Duke and they won, as the biggest point spread dog winner in an NCAA Final. When a big dog wins, it has to be up there as a “best” game nominee.”
So, as great as the Villanova/UNC game was on Monday night, keep in mind that plenty of NCAA final games have been excellent games and have gone down to the final play.
Allow me one more “follow-up comment” concerning the dominance of the UConn women’s basketball team and how that helps/hurts the sport of women’s college basketball. The UConn women won their fourth consecutive NCAA tournament championship on Tuesday night beating Syracuse by 31 points. I do not know what the final line on that game was, but at one point on Monday, I happened to see that the line was UConn – 26. So, if you had money on the game, it was “close” down to the end; if you did not have money on the game, the outcome was not in doubt for most of the contest.
In a blockbuster investigative report over in the world of business news, the revelation of the “Panama Papers” is that lots of rich people in the world use lots of shady dealings to avoid paying lots of taxes in lots of countries in the world. I sort of suspected those kinds of things were ongoing but the details provided here go far beyond what I had “imagined’. And let me be clear, I do not pretend for even a moment that I understand all of the intricacies that these shady deals involved themselves with. What I did notice was that there was a part of the Panama Papers’ revelations that intersected with the sports world and as soon as I read it my reaction was:
Isn’t that special…? [/The Church Lady]
According to The Guardian, the new FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, is “mentioned” in the Panama Papers. Infantino is the man selected to take over from Sepp Blatter and the other rascals who raised the corruption levels of FIFA to such heights that FIFA actually challenged the IOC as the Sleaziest Organization on the Planet – in the category of “Non-Political Parties” of course. Infantino, the former head of UEFA, was portrayed as IOC’s reformer, its White Knight, its moral compass, its …
Here are three paragraphs from The Guardian report:
“Files seen by the Guardian will raise questions about the role Fifa’s president, Gianni Infantino, played in deals that were concluded when he was director of legal services at Uefa, European football’s governing body.
“According to records, Uefa concluded offshore deals with one of the indicted figures at the heart of an alleged “World Cup of fraud” despite previously insisting it had no dealings with any of them.
“The emergence of the contracts from 2003 and 2006, which were co-signed by Infantino, link Uefa for the first time to one of the companies involved in the huge unfolding scandal that has brought down former Fifa president Sepp Blatter.”
If Infantino was the guy that the soccer mavens elevated to clean up the giant puddle of cat-vomit left behind by Blatter and company, then either the soccer mavens are easily fooled or the level of corruption in the sport goes down to the lowest levels imaginable and there is no intention to reform the sport at all. Let me recommend that you read this report in its entirety.
Finally, here is an observation from Greg Cote last weekend in the Miami Herald:
“Somebody check on LeBron James, make sure he’s OK. It’s been almost a week since he’s said or done anything to call attention to himself.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………