March Madness has come and gone, but besides the surprise loss of all the No. 1 teams, does anything else actually seem unusual?
There’ll always be a Cinderella team, and the perennial basketball powerhouses almost always end up at least in the Final Four. So, really, what is surprising about the tournament?
However, the women’s tournament went on with so little fanfare that it wouldn’t be surprising if most people can’t name the Final Four teams.
It’s no shocker the men’s tournament has a higher TV rating than the women’s, but it’s disappointing to know that people aren’t even tuning in to watch the women play.
In the past decade, two teams have dominated women’s college basketball: Connecticut and Tennessee. Since 1995, both teams have combined for eight of the last 11 championships.
However, Baylor’s surprise championship run last year, may have ushered in the era of parity in women’s basketball.
Star players are not just going to Tennessee and Connecticut anymore. And their skills are being compared to some NBA greats. Rutgers’ Cappie Pondexter and UNC’s Ivory Latta have been compared to Allen Iverson, while Monique Currie (Duke) and Seimone Augustus (LSU) have drawn comparisons to Magic.
Yet, many ‘fess up to not watching women’s basketball because of its lack of excitement. Ironically, the 2004 women’s championship in which UConn capped an undefeated season with a win over Tennessee is the most watched college basketball game, men’s or women’s, in ESPN’s history.
In a first-round rout over Army, Tennessee’s Candace Parker dunked twice, marking the first time a woman dunked in the NCAA tournament.
The dunks were the talk of the week during the early rounds of the men’s tournament, but some may have missed it if not for its spot on “SportCenter’s Top 10 plays.”
Men’s basketball is supposed to be more exciting because dunking is ubiquitous, but the women make up for their inability to play above the rim by playing with much better fundamentals-more teamwork, and fewer isolation plays.
The women’s final was more thrilling. Maryland’s freshman sensation Kristi Toliver taking over the game in the last few minutes, and hitting the game-tying three at the end of regulation (with the tournament’s leading shot-blocker, Bales, in her face) was definitely a more exciting image than watching Adam Morrison crying his way out of the Elite Eight or Florida routing UCLA in the championship.
Lack of flare and dunks should not be an excuse for tuning out women’s basketball because the women are giving you exactly what you want. Here come the dunks and flashiness you’ve been asking for; now it’s your turn to embrace the change, and the women.
Wandoo Makurdi is a mass media studies student at Florida State University from Lagos, Nigeria. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.