The anticlimactic moment has always been at the top of the list of disappointment for a sports fan. The world of sports is built on moments of high drama, where the line between victory and defeat is finally erased and one team goes home exuberant, while the other hides their head in the sand. As viewers and fans, we want the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, the game-winning fourth quarter drive, the overtime goal, or the last second buzzer beater. The dramatic finish helps a game or an athlete live on in our memories as the seasons carry on and new opportunities for greatness manifest themselves.

If we can't be spoiled with such legend-making plays, we at least want an entertaining game and competitive action in any contest, and this is especially true in a sport's championship game. Unfortunately for college basketball fans, none of the things that make sports worth watching were on display Monday night when Butler and UConn met to decide the National Championship in Houston. The game was by all accounts an ugly affair, and that is treating it with the softest of kid gloves. To get down to brass tacks, it was a horrendous display of the game James Naismith created and was a whimper of epic proportions after a fantastic tournament filled with numerous memorable moments and compelling story lines.

Butler played one of the worst offensive games I have ever watched as a basketball fan, and while UConn didn't play much better, they looked like world-beaters next to what CBS analyst Clark Kellogg called the "unparalleled ineptitude" of the Bulldog shooters (more on CK in a minute), including the team's two stars Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard, who shot a combined 5 of 28 from the field. Butler made three two-point baskets all game and waited until well into the second half of play to score a single point in the paint. They went 12 of 64 from the field as a team, leading to a jaw-dropping and championship game record-low field goal percentage of 18%.

I've heard sports pundits and radio jocks talk about UConn's length and defensive tenacity all day long after last night's cringe-worthy action, but the truth is that the kids from Indianapolis are the ones to blame for their defeat. UConn just had to show up and play halfway up to their potential (which they did...barely, shooting a paltry 34% themselves) to take out the team that was playing in its second consecutive National Championship game. There was no trouble finding a ticket to Monday's game in Reliant Stadium, and I bet by halftime even those who got a great deal on their seats were contemplating an alternative way to spend their Monday night.

There was a point in the second half where I felt the kind of third-party embarrassment usually reserved for a scene from "Swingers".  John Favreau and an answering machine got nothing on the kind of humiliation I felt for the Bulldog shooters though, who not only couldn't hit a three pointer to save their lives, but didn't find a way to put in even a layup for what seemed like an eternity. I guess I didn't even feel bad for the Butler kids, really, but more of a personal sadness from having to watch a championship game where a team couldn't play dead and was still never really out of the game.

Apparently UConn couldn't find it in it's heart to shoot the wounded horse named Butler, which only added to the game's complete lack of compelling moments. Even the best player on the floor and the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, the dynamic Kemba Walker, put on a pedestrian offensive performance (5 of 19 for 16 points). While I appreciate a great defensive effort as much as the next guy, I was ready to put aspirin in my Coke rather than continue to watch Butler die a slow death on national television last night.

For UConn though, a National Championship is a National Championship is a National Championship (shout out to Ms. Stein). I'm sure they don't care how poorly they or their opponent played, because at the end of the day, they get to put up another banner back in Storrs. And I'm also guessing Coach Jim Calhoun isn't sweating about the way he got to join a very elite club with his third National Championship as a head coach. The Huskies made a truly incredible post-season run, winning five games in the brutal Big East Tournament followed by the clinching six wins in the Big Dance. Congrats to the kids from UConn, even though if I had to watch the game that brought them a championship again, I might pry out my eye balls.

The championship game aside, the tournament itself was another great, mad ride through March. From Shaka Smart's VCU Rams making the Final Four, to the head-shaking fouls that decided the Pitt/Butler game, to all four No. 1 seeds falling by the wayside, this year's tournament was another lesson in the dramatic power of the Big Dance. I think if you would have told anybody with more than a passing interest in college hoops that none of the four number ones would make it to Houston and VCU would be playing Butler for the right to be in the championship game they would have promptly laughed you out of the room or put an incredulous hand to your forehead to make sure you weren't delirious with fever.

Adding to the allure of the tournament's unexpected excitement this year was the additional coverage provided by TNT, TBS, and TruTV, which allowed for the opportunity to see every single game of the tournament for the first time in its existence. CBS let the other guys in and let fans follow whatever team they liked (and test their remote control acumen), providing the kind of blanket coverage that folks had been clamoring to get for the past decade or so. We've had the technology to bring every game to live TV for years and I'm glad the dollar signs lined up right this year so fans (and the networks) could reap the respective benefits.

Of course, there's always one moment that sticks out among the rest, and personally, it has to be Kentucky's Brandon Knight draining a jumper to take out my beloved and No. 1 seeded Ohio State Buckeyes, who were also my pick to win it all in my bracket. That bracket, by the way, was fireplace fodder nearly immediately and only one of the teams I picked to make the Final Four did so, that being National Champions UConn. I said that the Buckeyes would have to lay an egg to get beat (no pun intended), and they proved me right by shooting a shade over 30% from the field against the Wildcats. They also made for a difficult night at the bar that Saturday, where I was surrounded by folks in UK blue puffing up their chests. Oh well, there's always next year Bucks.

Another highlight for this writer that I alluded to earlier was the color commentary of Clark Kellogg, who just happens to be a former Buckeye hoopster himself. Kellogg was paired with Jim Nance throughout the tournament and the tandem was joined by another insightful voice, Steve Kerr, for the Final Four and championship game. Kellogg is not only knowledgeable and observant, but has a way with words that would make any writer proud. All tournament long, Kellogg subtly and tastefully reinvigorated the language surrounding the game and reworked and reinterpreted a litany of basketball bromides when he wasn't foregoing them altogether.

It isn't the ball, it's "the orange" or "the pumpkin", that wasn't a steal you just saw, it was a "pilfer". The player that can thrive both inside the paint and out near the three-point line? He's "reversible clothing". It's not only jargon he's having fun with though. As I watched a Final Four match-up on Saturday, I had to find a pen to take note of his analysis of a shooter getting on a roll. There are a lot of tired cliches concerning a player making one bucket and turning it into a streak, but I just love Kellogg's way of putting it: "One goes in and that basket becomes cavernous." I don't remember Billy Packer ever waxing that poetic. Props to CK on a job well done.

So, March has come to an end and the sporting life can go back to normal for a bit, allowing the baseball season to get its wheels turning and the paths leading to the NBA and NHL playoffs to near their own end. There's nothing quite like the NCAA Tournament in the world of sports, and though the championship game exclamation point turned out to be more of a barely visible semicolon, the basketball sentence it completed was still one of the best tournaments in recent memory. I'm contemplating a move away from sports for the next post, something I've flirted with in the past and am excited to give a try. One cannot live on athletic bread alone after all. See you soon.

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