It’s been a while since Villanova won the 2016 NCAA D1 crown and looking back I’m not sure we learned anything new but I’m fairly certain that we were all served up a number of important reminders. Five important ones follow.
- In Texas A.M.’s comeback win over Northern Iowa, coaches and players alike were reminded that despite extremely long odds, miracle comebacks really do happen. Down 12 with 44 seconds, the Aggies’ storybook finish should be fresh in everyone’s mind next season and serves as a new template for hope as teams try to dig out of seemingly impossible holes. All one has to do is search “basketball comeback wins” and you’ll final additional examples that are almost equally inspiring. One of my favorites of all time occurred in the 1976-77 season when Bradley opened the game with a 28-0 lead against New Mexico St., only to have New Mexico St. comeback with a 117-109 win.
- There are always upsets in the tournament and this year was no different. Yale, Stephen F. Austin, Arkansas-Little Rock, Middle Tennessee St. and Hawai’i once again proved that school name, conference affiliation, style of play, or players’ sizes or backgrounds don’t matter; any good, well coached and well played basketball will work.
- Special situation practice pays off. Texas A+M’s comeback has to be mentioned again but three buzzers beaters by Northern Iowa over Texas, Wisconsin over Xavier and lastly Villanova over North Carolina all clearly illustrate the importance of preparation in endgame situations.
- Every team needs a defense to force tempo when behind. As zone oriented as Syracuse has been during Jim Boeheim’s long tenure and as taking care of the ball conscious Virginia is, the Orangemen utilized a full court press to propel an unlikely game winning rally against the Cavaliers.
- Most teams need a zone as a changeup defense. Middle Tennessee St. scored 90 against Michigan St.’s man and two days later scored 50 against Syracuse. Other factors were certainly in play but MTSU didn’t attack the Syracuse zone with anywhere near the same confidence and execution as they did against the Spartans’ man D.
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