Americans realized yet again on Saturday just what a treasure the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is, and how good it is to have March Madness back on television this year after a one year hiatus because of the pandemic.
The national semi final games produced an epic, instant classic, in the matchup between UCLA and top-ranked Gonzaga.
Following the absolute dud of an opening game, where Baylor annihilated Houston in what was essentially an unwatchable game unless you were an alum or had family playing in it, the prime time battle on CBS produced one of the greatest endings in the tournament’s history.
Late in overtime, UCLA trailed by two, and with just 3.3 seconds on the clock, Bruins’ star Johnny Juzanga followed his own miss with a beautiful follow up to tie the game at 90.
Overtime, right? Wrong! Gonzaga inbounded the ball to freshman sensation Jalen Suggs from Minneapolis, who took three dribbles, and launched a perfect, 40-foot bank shot that ticked the net as the horn sounded.
Gonzaga survived 93-90, in what will go down as maybe the best game in Final Four history.
The other highlight of the day came from Charles Barkley. The TNT commentator who is working the NCAA tournament took an opportunity to rip politicians, for causing divisiveness in the country. He accused Republicans and Democrats of trying to “keep their grasp on money and power” by stoking the division in this country.
“’Hey, let’s make these people not like each other. We don’t live in their neighborhoods, we all got money, let’s make the Whites and Blacks not like each other, let’s make rich people and poor people not like each other, let’s scramble the middle class.’ I truly believe that in my heart.”
In five minutes during a basketball broadcast, Barkley made more sense than any cable news commentator has in the past two decades.
Barkley also had another poignant thought, as he accused pro athletes of throng the political and race conversation into a circus.
Suggs and Barkley. A couple of MVP performances on Saturday.