The 2017-2018 college basketball season was nothing short of unpredictable. Whether it was crazy upsets or scandals that seemed to drop out of nowhere there could not have been more of an unpredictable season. As the young freshmen were the focal point of many of the preseason polls in September, it was a back-court of upperclassmen that cut down the nets a week ago today in early April.
This season, many teams struggled. The good teams hiccuped early and the depth of college basketball showed. A lot of teams seemed to be able to beat anyone if they were given their home court. Teams like Arizona State rose to the top five in the AP poll after not being ranked at all in the preseason. Then proceeded to free fall and almost play their way out of the field of 68. Notre Dame lost two home games against Ball State and Indiana and played their way out of the NCAA tournament.
Teams with fantastic freshmen like Duke struggled to defend at times but then would seemingly turn around and win by 30 in the next game they played. In every single game that Duke lost this season, they followed it up with a double-digit victory in that next game. And finally, a team of just three Crimson Tide, led by standout freshman Collin Sexton, almost knocked off the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Heading into 2018, there wasn’t a single team that was undefeated, which just goes to show the depth and talent in all of division one college basketball.
The college basketball regular season was a roller coaster ride with ups, downs and unpredictability. The draw it had was that any team could win at any given moment. Like anything, college basketball’s unpredictability made it more interesting and in turn made March even more crazy and exciting than it normally is.
This is a year that will go down in the history books. First off, in the tournament’s history, there had never been a number one seed losing to a 16 seed. As of this March, college basketball fans were blessed and some cursed, with the first win for a 16 seed over a one. But not only was it just “another one seed” it was THE one seed. A unanimous number one pick, the ACC regular season and tournament champion. A team with the number one ranked defense that although historically disappointing in the NCAA tournament, seemed like a lock to win against a UMBC team that lost to the University of Albany 83-39. The Cavaliers gave up 53 second-half points to the Retrievers (One less than their entire game average) and went into the history books for all the wrong reasons.
Loyola-Chicago emerged as the Cinderella destined to dance after a young Kentucky team couldn’t get out of a bracket that had an 11, seven and nine seed in front of them. Let me repeat that again. An 11, nine, and seven seed all made it to the sweet sixteen, and they were all in the same region. Ultimately the big dance stopped when the Ramblers ran into the sizzling hot Michigan Wolverines who went on to face Villanova for a chance at the throne.
Through all of that was Villanova. Through all the unpredictability and upsets was the 2016 National Champions. A team that dropped just four games all season and the highest scoring offense in the country. A team so balanced that they may have slid under the radar. With six 10+ point scorers, the Wildcats were incredibly balanced. Led by Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson Villanova had the best identity in college basketball.
The Wildcats did everything this season in convincing fashion. Out of their 36 wins this season, only one was by less than eight points and of their four losses never lost by more than eight. Villanova proved themselves as both the most consistent basketball team as well as one of the most explosive ones.
Through all the unpredictably and all of the noise, one thing that ended up making sense was the Villanova Wildcats cutting down the nets last week. Even though the story is that offense wins games and defense wins championships, in the end, defense didn’t win Virginia a game and offense won Villanova a championship.
Featured image from Beinsports.com.
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