I am not, as a rule, a big college sports fan. I find that the level of competition in most games during the season is questionable especially in non conference play. I follow college football only at the surface. The closest I come to it is that I attend the annual Gator Bowl every year with my father and grandfather. Occasionally though I will get captured by college basketball during the NCAA Tournament.
During the regular season in the NCAA I generally don’t even know the season is going on. I don’t follow it even enough to know what teams are having a good year or what the rankings are. But every couple of years I find myself drawn to watching the Tournament especially when it gets down to the Elite Eight and the Final Four. I am not sure why. I think deep down I really do enjoy the action and the emotion of the game I just don’t have enough attention span to devote months to it so I get it all in during the playoff system.
This year was no different. I didn’t even know who was ranked and who was in the tournament but I started following along in the news watching as George Mason and Florida advanced toward a showdown in the FInal Four. I had never heard of George Mason before and I’ve never been a follower of Florida’s program even though their campus is only 50 miles to the southwest of my home, but both of these teams had a sort of fairy tale season quality going on. Neither teams were known as basketball powerhouses and weren’t especially favored to go very far in the NCAA Tournament. It was clear to me early on though that they were the story.
I watched the Final Four showdown between George Mason and Florida with a sense that I was watching the real championship game. I had a feeling, and told my coworkers as much, that I felt that the UCLA-LSU game that everyone was so hyped about here at the office was a battle for second place in the Tournament. I felt in my gut that the winner of the George Mason-Florida game would be the champion this year. It had to be one of them for there to be any balance in the universe.
Last night that was born out as I watched Florida defeat UCLA fairly easily for the title. The Bruins were never really in the game. It narrowed late to 16 after being as high as 20 but you never really got the sense that Florida was in any danger of giving up their lead. They seem to just find a way to get the job done. They are a very good over all team which relies more on teamwork and spreading things around than just having one player dominate. Certainly they have their stars and anyone who can’t see superstar (in both talent and presence) in Joakim Noah is just blind, but the story is about their 21 assists and their bench outscoring UCLA 11-0 in the first half. Adding to the story the fact that of the 5 starters only one is a Junior and the rest are Sophomores it makes them all the more appealing and likely to be a force next year. I might have to watch more closely next season..nah I’ll just catch up with them in the Final Four again.