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Monday’s 2023 NCAA Tournament Championship Notes

Sure looks like UConn from here.

Miami v Connecticut
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 01: Head coach Dan Hurley of the Connecticut Huskies reacts during the first half against the Miami Hurricanes during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at NRG Stadium on April 01, 2023 in Houston, Texas.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

A lot of people, including us, assumed that Iowa would beat LSU, particularly after the brilliant show Caitlin Clark put on in the regional finals and semifinals.

Didn't quite happen as LSU handled Iowa with surprising ease, winning 102-85. The proper analog in many ways could be Duke’s 1991 win over UNLV. An epic upset, Duke had to still manage Kansas in the finals. A letdown would have been only human.

Clark had 30 in the title game, which is impressive, but not as great as her last two games.

There was some controversy too. The officiating again underwhelmed viewers. Most of us aren’t qualified to truly judge officiating so it’s usually hard to say. However, there were a pair of technicals called that raised questions. Well, one really.

The first one was against Caitlin Clark when she tossed a ball out of bounds. After the game, one of the officials cited the relevant rule; ok, fine.

The second technical wasn’t actually called, but LSU coach Kim Mulkey appeared to make contact with an official. Even if she didn’t - and it sure looked like she did - her behavior was far more egregious.

The other controversy came at the end when LSU’s Angel Reese mocked Clark by pointing to her ring finger as time ran out. Clark walked away and Reese followed her to do it again.

Gamesmanship and trash talking are part of the game; we all accept it. Taunting however is not. The game was over. Nothing was to be gained by taunting her vanquished opponent.

The men take the court Monday evening as UConn and San Diego State tangle.

Nearly everyone is picking UConn and there’s good reason for that. UConn has blown through every opponent in the field by double figures. San Diego State has gotten here by basically hog-tying opponents defensively and, a bit like Virginia, they’re lethal at the end of close games.

That may not work against the Huskies. UConn’s defense is outstanding too, the talent may be higher, and more importantly, UConn’s big men are an obstacle the Aztecs may not be able to overcome.

UConn really feels like a juggernaut now. Then again, so did Iowa after the South Carolina game. So we all have theories but things have to be settled on the court, as always. San Diego State has a chance, but really, UConn has looked great. Not good, great.

Speaking of UConn, we were thinking about Danny Hurley and the road he has traveled to get here and were wondering about his leave at Seton Hall and when it was.

Then we thought...wait...when was brother Bobby’s accident?

Turns out Bobby’s traumatic accident was on December 12th, 1993 and Danny took his leave on December 13th. We never made the association but that’s so obvious now. Bobby nearly died and the brothers are extremely close. Given that Danny is well known for his powerful emotions, it must have really torn him up to see his brother that close to death. Of course he took a leave.

Speaking of the younger Hurley, he had some solid comments on the NCAA tournament, saying he didn't think it should be expanded, but perhaps the selection criteria could be improved: “I do think, though, that there are probably mid-major programs, a lot of times, that are more deserving than like a 10th-place team in a power conference that has figured out how to just game the numbers, so I’ll say that. I see that on Selection Sunday sometimes. And I cringe at that.”

That's nice to see him stick up for those schools.