This was the men's college basketball tournament that would top some of the greatest. This was the year a 16 seed beat a one, that a small school not named Gonzaga or Butler would go to the Final Four. This was the year one of the regions would have its top four teams knocked out early. But with all the upsets, all the bracket busting, and all the Cinderella stories, this turned out to be a year like many others, when a number one seed won the tournament anyway.
Villanova defeated Michigan in a rout tonight, 79-62 in San Antonio, to cut down the nets as NCAA champions. The game wasn't really that close. Donte DiVincenzo had 31 points to lead the Wildcats to their second title in three years. The runners up from Michigan were a three seed, and Big 10 conference champions. Years from now, if you look up scores in an almanac, or ask your digital assistant to find the 2018 tournament, Alexa or Siri or Information Please may fail to come up with schools like Loyola-Chicago or Maryland-Baltimore County.
Mention Villanova to a fiftysomething, and they'll immediately yell 1985. That was the year the Wildcats upset Georgetown to win the title. Two years earlier, North Carolina State head coach Jimmy Valvano was running around the floor looking for someone to hug, because his Wolfpack had knocked off the Goliath known as Houston. Just a couple of years ago, a half court heave almost gave Butler a win over Duke. Runs by Nevada and Loyola were fantastic, but will eventually just become a note, or a graphic, or a statistic, in a future telecast.
It's possible that UMBC will be remembered from this tournament longer than Loyola. Sister Jean had her boys get to the Final Four, but the Retrievers of Baltimore County not only were the first 16 seed to win a first round game, but they took down overall top seed Virginia by 20 points. Forgotten, and hopefully already, is that UCLA had the same seed that Loyola did. The Ramblers fought, the Bruins rolled over, and so did Arizona and Arizona State in getting bounced early.
Then again, at least for the over fifty crowd, maybe it will be Villanova that will be forgotten. Mention 2018 and you'll hear Loyola, Sister Jean, UMBC, or upset city. Villanova? They beat Georgetown in 1985.
Baseball begins: If not for the new collective bargaining agreement with Major League Baseball and its players, today would have been Opening Day. Most of the games would have been in the afternoon, with almost all of them (except for the A's likely playing a night game) done in time for the big basketball game. Instead, with four more off days built in, and baseball starting on Thursday, there was a full slate of games going on during the basketball broadcast. Certainly, hoops, even though on TBS instead of CBS this year should get better ratings than basketball, there was someplace to turn when the rout was on, which happened early.
Baseball anniversaries: 2018 is a big year for many MLB franchises. This is the 60th anniversary of the Dodgers and Giants coming to the west coast. It's the 50th for the A's in Oakland since moving from Kansas City. It's the 25th anniversary of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins entering the National League, and 20 years since baseball last expanded with the entry of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
Opening salvos: The very first pitch of the baseball season resulted in a home run by Ian Happ of the Cubs off Marlins pitcher Jose Urena... Matt Davidson of the Chicago White Sox hit three home runs on Opening Day, but was upstaged on ESPN and others when Giancarlo Stanton hit two in his debut with his new team, the Yankees... Shohei Ohtani of the Angels singled to right field in the very first pitch thrown to him as the DH on Thursday. Sunday, he pitched five innings and got the win in Oakland against the A's... If Joe Panik doesn't hit a home run, the Giants don't score. San Francisco beat the Dodgers 1-0 on back-back days, both on Panik homers—one off Clayton Kershaw, and the other off closer Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers blanked the Giants 5-0 and 9-0 the next two games... It's bad enough that ESPN put the despicable Alex Rodriguez in the prime time booth, but did they have to show girlfriend Jennifer Lopez coming up to visit him between innings, and giving him a kiss? Please.