March Madness

 

For me, the most interesting story leading into March (April) Madness is Princeton’s buzzer-beating Ivy League Conference win over Harvard on Saturday. Despite losing, Harvard still held onto a share of the league title, something the Crimson hadn’t done in its basketball history, which goes back 100 years.

Each of the other seven Ivy League programs has won at least one men’s title. Of the 34 varsity sports listed on the Harvard Web site that compete for Ivy championships, 33 have won at least one. Eleven women’s basketball Ivy championship banners hang at one end of Lavietes. There is ample, empty space at the other end.

“I’m not sure you can walk anywhere on this campus and find something that hasn’t been done before,” Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker said [last week].

Despite its loss Saturday, Harvard hoped for an at-large bid, which would have been a first in Ivy history. The league is so small and non-competitive versus national competition (usually*) that only the conference winner gets an automatic bid. This might have been a different year, but, alas, no dice.

* I say “usually” above because 15 years ago today, on March 14, 1996, Princeton pulled off one of the greatest upsets in basketball history. It’s in my Top 10 favorite sports moments, for sure. Why? No connection to Princeton or the Ivies. That’s for smart folk like Rob, Peter, and Diane. No, I’ve just always loved Pete Carril. I loved that Princeton won it with a textbook backdoor layup from the ’50s. I loved that it was UCLA that fell. Not because I have anything against UCLA, but because it was such a big basketball name to slay.

Anyway, here’s a wonderful — simply wonderful — walk down memory lane about that game, with updated quotes from Carril and Gabe Lewillis, now an orthopedic surgery resident, who made that beautiful layup. 

There have been bigger upsets and better games, but Princeton-UCLA connects with people in a way the others don’t. It is almost a CBS bylaw that every March Madness montage includes one clip of the rumpled Carril, a game plan rolled up in his hand, celebrating his final college victory.

What’s your favorite NCAA memory? Do you have any reason to root for any particular team this year?

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @Britanicus

    Hi Ursula. I always appreciate the sports posts.

    My favorite memory was probably in 2004 when Uconn beat Duke in the semi-finals. A close second is when Uconn won the Big East Tournament a few days ago–I did not see that one coming.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Inactive
    @GADean

    Alas, the NCAA tourney is usually a short thrill for the Ivies. My favorite Princeton basketball memory is the 1975 win in the NIT. I was able to attend the final game at Madison Square Garden. I knew some guys on that team, including Armand Hill who I had met in high school, and to see them win on that big stage was quite a thing. The student seats were behind the basket right down close to the court, and the energy level was amazing.

    As I remember Penn got the bid for the NCAA that year and got beat in a snoozer in the opening round.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @StickerShock

    I’m not a UConn fan, as Coach Calhoun is a really sore loser. I’m rooting (as always) for Notre Dame, a team with no superstar, but great, unselfish team players. Coach Brey is a gentleman.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Podcaster
    @EJHill

    In my TV life, I’ve profited mightily from the NCAA. But as the money and the greed has spiraled out of control, I enjoy the games less and less.

    This tournament is the start of a 14-year, $11 billion deal with CBS and Time-Warner.

    Yet, there are scandals where players earn a few bucks or get an outside benefit. New NCAA president Mark Emmert vows that players will never be paid as long as he’s there. He touts the long term benefit that athletes receive from a college education.

    But the organization that worries about student athletes getting a discount tattoo on one hand and see’s no problem letting Clemson QB Kyle Parker sign a $1.4m deal to play minor league baseball for the Colorado Rockies and still keep his football eligibility has a serious disconnect with reality.

    Beyond the NCAA, the conferences are creating their own networks, or in the case of the University of Texas and ESPN, $300 million will get you a single school 24 hour cable channel. And the primary attraction remains unpaid talent.

    Bracket that.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Contributor
    @UrsulaHennessey
    Charley Davis: Hooray for me, my first Ricochet comment is on the subject most dear to my heart, March Madness, which is the disease I suffer from year round and I don’t even seek a cure.

    The pinnacle of the NCAA tournament was reached in the Elite Eight round in 2005. Michigan State defeated Kentucky after too overtimes, Louisville outlasted West Virginia in one and in the best . .. comeback. . . EVER! The Fighting Illini overcome a 15 point deficit to Arizona in the final four minutes to force OT where they prevailed 90-89!

    So where’s the Ricochet tournament pool? · Mar 14 at 12:40pm

    Welcome, Charley! So glad you commented. And, as for a tournament pool …. stay tuned!

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Palaeologus
    Ursula Hennessey

    Anyway, here’s a wonderful — simply wonderful — walk down memory lane

    about that game, with updated quotes from Carril and Gabe Lewillis, now an orthopedic surgery resident, who made that beautiful layup.

    That was a great game. Pete also had a pretty darn good outing against #1 seed Georgetown about seven years earlier.

    Speaking of Hoyas, my first NCAA memories are from the ’82 tourney. I became a Hoya fan during that tournament for the silliest of little-kid reasons: I lived in a subdivision (in WI) named Georgetown. The Ewing years (82-85) all had spectacular title games. But, probably the best of the four was the one year John Thompson didn’t get there.

    1983, Houston vs. N.C. State, Phi Slamma Jamma vs. The Cardiac Pack. For those unfamiliar, N.C. State was a massive (15-point) underdog, yet won in spectacular fashion in the waning seconds.

    Here is a good, short, pre-game video piece featuring N.C. State, done by Dick Schaap.

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Contributor
    @UrsulaHennessey
    Palaeologus

    That was a great game. Pete also had a pretty darn good outing against #1 seed Georgetown about seven years earlier.

    Speaking of Hoyas, my first NCAA memories are from the ’82 tourney. I became a Hoya fan during that tournament for the silliest of little-kid reasons: I lived in a subdivision (in WI) named Georgetown. The Ewing years (82-85) all had spectacular title games. But, probably the best of the four was the one year John Thompson didn’t get there.

    1983, Houston vs. N.C. State, Phi Slamma Jamma vs. The Cardiac Pack. For those unfamiliar, N.C. State was a massive (15-point) underdog, yet won in spectacular fashion in the waning seconds.

    Here is a good, short, pre-game video piece featuring N.C. State, done by Dick Schaap. ·

    Great memory of Jimmy V. Thanks, Palaeo. That was just about the time I started watching hoops closely with my dad. Also, to be honest, that Georgetown-Princeton game was better, just longer ago.

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TroySenik

    Let me shout from the rooftops my pride at the Atlantic Sun champion Belmont Bruins, who face off with Wisconsin on Thursday. I did my undergraduate work at this wonderful little liberal arts college in Nashville and am incredibly proud at how far they are punching above their weight this year.

    I realize I can’t expect the entire Ricochet community to join me in Belmont solidarity out of biographical affinity, so I offer two rationales for those of you free of my unabashed prejudice:

    1. It may be one of ten schools in America with not one, but two libertarians on the political science faculty roster.

    2. A victory over Wisconsin would be one more source of grief for public employees in Madison.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Member
    @MBF

    My warm fuzzy feelings for the Ivy league went out the window last year when Cornell throttled my Badgers into submission.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CharleyDavis

    Hooray for me, my first Ricochet comment is on the subject most dear to my heart, March Madness, which is the disease I suffer from year round and I don’t even seek a cure.

    The pinnacle of the NCAA tournament was reached in the Elite Eight round in 2005. Michigan State defeated Kentucky after too overtimes, Louisville outlasted West Virginia in one and in the best . .. comeback. . . EVER! The Fighting Illini overcome a 15 point deficit to Arizona in the final four minutes to force OT where they prevailed 90-89!

    So where’s the Ricochet tournament pool?

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Contributor
    @user_59824
    Troy Senik: I did my undergraduate work at this wonderful little liberal arts college in Nashville and am incredibly proud at how far they are punching above their weight this year.

    Troy, I would share in your enthusiasm if I weren’t a Vandy alum.

    Nashville is a lovely city, no?

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Contributor
    @TroySenik

    Mutual non-aggression pact? I’m pulling for Vandy unless they wind up head to head with Belmont (this despite the fact that I get vertigo every time I see Vanderbilt’s bench-behind-the-boards arena on TV).

    And as for Nashville … it’s quite simply perfect.

    Elizabeth DunnTroy, I would share in your enthusiasm if I weren’t a Vandy alum.

    Nashville is a lovely city, no? · Mar 15 at 3:55pm

    Edited on Mar 15 at 04:01 pm

    • #12

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