What we read after shoveling snow…
- Pope Benedict XVI is resigning, which a pope hasn’t done in, oh, about 600 years. Undoubtedly, Charles V had something to do with this.
As we at NPI have previously hinted, we have all emanated from that majestic and triumphant institution of higher learning, Duke University. In fact, it is fair to say that, without Duke, this blog would not exist. Other gifts to humanity that Duke has bestowed include basketball extraordinaire Jason Williams, former Heroes star Jack Coleman, novelist Reynolds Price, journalist Charlie Rose, and former NFL star Sonny Jurgensen. That’s not a bad list, and it’s by no means everybody.
Of course, Tim, Josh, and I would not say that Duke is perfect. For one, we’re not the kind of people that love institutions unconditionally. It’s pretty obvious that every university has its flaws. In fact, we probably wouldn’t object if you said that Duke has more flaws than your average elite institution.
But when someone who writes for a prominent magazine—like, I don’t know, let’s say The Atlantic—writes an unjustified hatchet-job that is illogical, mean-spirited, and not supported by any hard evidence…well, that really grinds our gears. See, hating Duke has been trendy for about two decades now (it probably started when Christian Laettner stepped on Aminu Timberlake). There are a lot of reasons for this that I won’t bother going into here, but suffice it to say that sometime around 2006, when three members of the Duke lacrosse team were accused of rape,* members of the non-sports media realized they could churn out “polarizing” columns by regurgitating the same accusations of racism and elitism that had been levied against the basketball team for 15 years. Continue reading »
I wrote—albeit briefly—about my love of the NCAA Vault late last season. For the uninitiated, the NCAA Vault contains every NCAA Tournament game from the Sweet 16 on played since 2000. That is 165 games in all. That is, in fact, too much for you to rationally sort through to figure out which games are worth skipping to the end, which games are worth perusing, and which merit full-blown opening-tip-to-final-buzzer immersion.
That’s why I’m here.
As part of our comprehensive college basketball preview over the next few days, I’ll be breaking down the contents of the NCAA Vault (and March Madness On Demand, which houses all 64 games from last season’s epic Tournament). Whether you’re in the mood to see a great individual performance, a team operating on all cylinders, or the moments when an eventual champion came closest to elimination, I’ve got you covered.
Sounds like gooooood watchin’.
Great Individual Performances
There are few things as exhilarating as watching a precocious athlete come of age on a national stage, as seeing potential fulfilled and yet promised again, at a higher level, simultaneously. It should come as no surprise that the five best individual performances in the NCAA Tournament since 2000 all came from college basketball superstars; there are no surprises on this list. For all of them, these performances were less breakthroughs than they were confirmations of what we thought they could be, occurring at the most opportune moments. It is performances like these that help make the NCAA Tournament the best sporting event in the world.
Continue reading »
You thought we were done, didn’t you? That we would stick to our promise to end by December 31? Please. We’ve still got two posts to go to determine the most important title of all: Athlete of the Decade.
In defining what exactly constituted the “Athlete of the Decade” in a sport, there’s a fine line between who is best and who is the most iconic. I tended toward the latter, which runs the risk of predicting how future historians remember the Aughts.
And a little wrinkle: The order in which I present the sports counts down to the Athlete of the Decade across sports. That is, the last sport I do will have the No. 1 Athlete of the Decade, the penultimate is the second-best across sports, and so on. Here are Nos. 6, 5, and 4. Continue reading »
College football, you can have your “meaningful regular season.” College basketball’s postseason will be better than yours whether you change it or not.
The perfection that is the NCAA Tournament gave me a plethora of delights to choose from for this top 10. My shortlist was actually quite long, running into the 30s. It was so long, in fact, that later today we’re adding a special post—Buzzer Beaters of the Decade—to commemorate the best at the buzzer in college basketball, even if the entire games weren’t good enough to crack this list.
Those that just missed the cut for this prized pantheon include the Aughts’ biggest upset by seed (Hampton over Iowa State in 2001), Kansas staving off Davidson in the 2008 Elite Eight, and West Virginia’s thrilling double-overtime upset of Wake Forest in 2005. But don’t worry Mountaineer fans, you’re still involved here. But, ugh, not in a good way.
Continue reading »