Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Final Thoughts

Now that the NCAA basketball tournaments are over, TigerBlog would like to make two predictions:

1) it'll be North Carolina over Gonzaga on the men's side and
2) UConn women will lose

There. Making predictions after the fact is much easier.

TigerBlog can definitely see the future about certain things. The NCAA tournament was not one of them. On the other hand, he knew that, and so he knew his picks would be bad.

He actually was right about his main contention about the tournament - it's the only major sporting even that gets worse at it goes along. Nothing that happened this year makes him change his mind on that thought.

A year ago, Princeton football coach Bob Surace correctly predicted Villanova over North Carolina in the championship game. This time, it was ticket manager Stephanie Sutton.

And relax everyone. There was no money at stake in any of this. It was all just for fun.

Stephanie's championship game prediction was North Carolina over Gonzaga. And unlike TigerBlog just now, she actually made it before the game started.

The UConn loss on the women's side was somewhat shocking in that any time UConn loses, it's shocking. There seem to be two schools of thought when it comes to UConn women: 1) it's not their fault they're so much better than everyone else and 2) UConn's dominance is bad for the sport.

The answer is that both are correct. It shouldn't be a monumental upset when the best team loses, and it's so dull when that team wins every game by 30 or more. Of course, that team has nothing to apologize for, but it just makes the women's basketball tournament that much less exciting.

If anything came out of the men's Final Four, it's that there are just too many replay reviews, being used for things that it wasn't designed to do, with the unintended consequence of having the game drag to a halt. TigerBlog's replay rules would include: 1) judgement calls could be reversed and 2) the refs make the call on the court and there can be one look at the replay; if that one look doesn't show something obvious, then the call stands and the game moves on.

As for the after-the-fact flagrant fouls called against Mississippi State's women and Gonzaga's men, those calls are ridiculous. And they had major impacts on the game and in the men's case who won the national championship. If the foul is flagrant, then by definition one of the three officials should have seen it.

Princeton was well-represented at the men's Final Four.

First, during the semifinals, it was Steven Cook, the first-team All-Ivy selection and 1,000-point scorer for the Tigers' unbeaten Ivy champs. Cook was one of the eight Allstate NABC Good Works Team. From the story on
Cook arrived in the Phoenix area Friday to take part in a weekend of events around the Final Four with the Good Works Team, on which he earned a place through volunteer efforts and his academic and athletic accomplishments. Cook fundraised for a Sudanese hospital and interned at an anti-poverty organization in Chicago, was the Princeton men's basketball program's first CoSIDA Academic All-America since 1998, and earned first-team 2017 All-Ivy League and Ivy League All-Tournament Team honors while leading Princeton in scoring on the way to the outright Ivy League title, the inaugural Ivy League Tournament championship and the NCAA Tournament.
Cook appeared on the court with his fellow Good Works Team members during a media timeout during the first half of the Oregon-North Carolina game Saturday night.

During the championship game, it was Ellen Dobrijevic's turn. The senior from the field hockey team was on the court as part of the Elite 90 team. From her story on the webpage:

The Elite 90, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 90 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships. Dobrijevic became the first Princeton athlete to ever win the NCAA Elite 90 Award. The Chemical and Biological Engineering major, currently carries a GPA of 3.896. The senior had a breakout season, playing in 17 games, scoring a career-high three goals for the Tigers that reached the NCAA Final Four for the seventh time in program history.

As for today, there is one Princeton athletic event - the baseball game at Monmouth. It should be sunny and close to 70 in West Long Branch, which is really close to a beach that has become one of the nicest at the Jersey Shore. If you can get away, go.

Anyway, that's that for the basketball tournaments. The hockey Final Four is this weekend.

TigerBlog will be back next week with his predictions on the outcome.

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