So March Madness went out like a out like a lion. After the smoke cleared it was the Tar Heels of North Carolina who claimed the college basketball hardware. This was one of the most compelling and exciting runs for the gold with giant killer Gonzaga winning the hearts and minds of both the media and the fans. The Gonzaga Bulldogs are from Spokane, Washington and of course the Tar Heels are from Chapel Hill, NC so this kind of made the final game an intercontinental affair. The media took to calling Team Gonzaga the “Zags’ rather than the Bulls apparently so as not to confuse them with our Butler Bulldogs. The “Zags” under head man Mark Few brought a very impressive 37-2 record to the brackets this year, and with the Heels 33-7 record during the regular season—which was good enough for Head Coach Roy William’s players to win yet another ACC championship. This is the Heels 6th National Championship and their first since 2009. Of course any mention of North Carolina basketball has to include legendary coach Dean Smith, whom many experts regard as college basketball’s greatest coach, even over a guy named Knight.
Gonzaga enjoys a reputation as one the nation’s more prestigious smaller institutions of higher learning and is a member of the National Association of Jesuit Colleges. Along with their strong academic program they have an active athletic program with the Bulldog baseball team achieving national recognition. Basketball college and pro Hall of Famer John Stockton is their most famous athletic graduate; however no other Bulldog basketball team has had anywhere near the success of the 2016-17 team. Oh, by the way, Gonzaga’s most famous alum is singer/actor Bing Crosby.
If there was an award for the most surprising member of the Final Four, it would be the South Carolina Gamecocks under Head Coach Frank Martin. Their 25-11 record in the regular season didn’t prepare anyone for their strong run for the title. The Gamecocks gave everyone a really exciting tournament performance. So March Madness is over and there are only 220 days until college basketball starts up again.
The Women’s Champs
The South Carolina lady’s basketball team ended Connecticut’s five year championship run by beating Mississippi State 67-55 to claim the Women’s National College Basketball Championship. Head Coach Dawn Staley became only the second African-American woman to coach a team to a National Championship. Purdue’s Caroline Peck was the first in 1999. Coach Staley led the team to a shocking upset of U Conn to get the Gamecocks to that final game Saturday night. Congratulations to South Carolina and to Coach Dawn Staley.
The first weekend of Major League baseball started up this last weekend without a hitch and with all the favored teams coming through with opening day wins. Las Vegas oddsmakers are already considering the Cubs the favorites to repeat as champions.
Speaking of which, believe it or not, this coming Thursday April 6 is opening night at the Vic for the Indians against the Toledo Mudhens. As a special feature the Tribe will host the three state basketball champs from Marion County — Crispus Attucks, Ben Davis, and Tindley — as their special guests. The champion athletes will be honored in a pregame ceremony that will cap a parade from Monument Circle. It will be an exciting way to open the 2017 season at the Vic.
Pippa will Drive at Indy
British driver Pippa Mann will be in her 5th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race in the 101st running this coming May. The 33 year old driver will be piloting Dale Coyne’s #63 Honda with the pink colors to help promote breast cancer awareness. Her car will be sponsored once again by the Susan G. Komen Get Involved Campaign.
So far Pippa has raised $135,000 for the campaign. Pippa is an Indy 500 fan favorite and so far she is the only woman entered in 2016. Speedway residents have already heard the sweet sound of racing engines at the track as drivers are testing tires and track conditions. “Drivers start your engines” is just a few weeks away.