March Mash-Up: So Many Tournaments
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The NCAA basketball season comes to an end tonight with a battle of the unbeatens.
It's the women's national title on the line as unbeaten Connecticut clashes with unbeaten Nôtre Dame after the men finished their season last night. You may think the men's and women's NCAA Division I titlists are the only teams that finish their season with a victory, but college basketball post-season tournaments are becoming like college football's bowl season. There were many winners this season, some of whom I am sure no one realized.
The NIT is still around and still finishes in New York City. This season the Minnesota Golden Gophers were the champions as Rick's kid Richard Pitino and his squad defeated Larry Brown's SMU team ,65-63.
Minnesota finished 25-13 on the season, while SMU, whom many thought was the final team out of the NCAA tournament, finished 27-10.
The women had their own NIT tournament, and after saying they would never play in the NIT, Rutgers won three road games in a row to claim the championship. Rutgers (28-9) defeated UTEP, 56-54, to claim the crown after beating South Florida and Bowling Green on the road and beating arch-rival Seton Hall and Harvard at home.
And then there is the WBI championship. For those legions of you who never heard of it, Illinois-Chicago took the title, defeating Stephen F Austin 73-64.
Besides the NIT, the men have two other tournaments after the season. Siena finished the season 15-17 after losing in the MAAC tournament but wound up winning the CBI tournament after defeaing Fresno State 81-68 in the best-of-three final to finish 20-18 overall. Murray State (23-11) celebrated a championship on their home court, defeating Yale 65-57 to win the CIT tournament.
These extra events provide extra games going into next season, and for teams like Minnesota, SMU, and the Rutgers women, they believe it will help them get to the big stage next season. Will they get as far as either UConn team, Kentucky, or Nôtre Dame? Only time will tell, but March was good to a lot of teams this season, and not just the ones most of us watched this weekend.