Story Time Is Over - NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

The clock finally struck midnight for Cinderella and it's her time to leave the ball. It was a great run for the Ramblers, but they just ran out of gas by the end of it. For the game's first 35 minutes, Loyola seemed assured to become the first double-digit seed to ever play for the Championship. They maintained double-digit leads twice in the second half. They performed with grace and class throughout this entire week, and it just wasn't enough. Every other double-digit seed that came before it got hammered from the outset. They didn't seem to belong in the Final Four; the Ramblers did. And even though they fell short, they just might be the greatest Cinderella story in the history of this tournament. And that's taking into account another record-shattering event of this 2018 March Madness: the UMBC Relievers who became #believers. This certainly was a year of the underdog to never forget.

I have to admit I was all aboard the Ramblers' bandwagon. This is a team that turned a 98 year-old nun into a national celebrity and almost smote Goliath. But that Goliath, i.e. Moe Wagner, just proved too much. Michigan is on to the National Championship and it's in large part thanks to the play of their big man. Wagner stretches the floor like no other player on his squad and his perimeter shooting and clutch play-making ability will be unparalleled on Monday. He doesn't just make shots; he makes them at opportune moments. Wagner will have to play his heart out if Michigan has a hope and a prayer against the most talented team in this tournament: Villanova.

Speaking of shattering records, the Wildcats crushed the Jayhawks by shooting an insane fourteen three-pointers in just twenty-one minutes to crack the previous record of thirteen (they would finish with eighteen overall from seven different shooters). Eric Paschall ended up with twenty-four points off of ten for eleven shooting. Villanova simply outclassed Kansas, who looked out of it after five minutes. Honestly, this game was over halfway through the first.

Heading into the NCAA National Championship, this game will come down to who has the better game: Wagner or National Player of the Year Jalen Brunson. Villanova may have shot the lights out on Saturday, but they're going to have to play their usual smothering defense if they want to close this thing out. And as they say, the best defense is a good offense. If the Wildcats can keep up their insanely efficient shooting, they'll simply deflate any chance of counter-runs or opposing momentum. I just don't see how the Wolverines can overcome this talented of a squad for forty minutes. They simply haven't faced a team like Villanova.

It's funny that ten, twenty, fifty years from now no one, not even the most avid college basketball fanatic, is going to remember who won this specific tournament in 2018 (I'm predicting Villanova). But they will never forget those two shocking underdog stories.

Many thanks for the good times, Ramblers & Receivers.