That was a fun NCAA tournament to watch -- wholly unpredictable, entertaining games, interesting stars and drama everywhere.
Now that it's over and UConn is the champion, we can look back at the whole breadth of this year's tournament and say, yeah, that was worth watching. Kevin Ollie, Shabazz Napier and the rest of the Huskies were nervy, highly skilled, gutsy and very deserving.
However... it all did play out quite randomly, from a statistical and five-months-of-games point of view, and when the men's basketball national championship result is subjected to so much randomness that makes any time you might've spent watching the actual men's basketball regular season seem relatively worthless.
And it does not create much appetite for the 2014-15 college hoops regular season, I must say.
Because this year's tournament was the full expansion of the general worrying sense that the championship is decided in a manner that is totally separate from whatever happened in the regular season, which isn't quite ideal for any sport.
For instance, in its last regular-season game, UConn lost 81-48 in Louisville.
UConn also was swept by SMU -- which did not make the tournament -- lost at Houston and lost at home to Stanford.
What did any of that mean once the tournament started? Nothing, nothing at all.
You want your regular season to mean something. Doesn't have to mean almost everything, and you build playoffs to make sure they have the most drama.
We can all have our qualms about the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB regular seasons, and all the times a team struggled through the regular season, barely made the playoffs, then knifed through the postseason after catching a hot spell.
—Interestingly, the NBA is the league that always gets the complaints about a "meaningless" regular season, yet that's the league that almost always sees No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 regular-season seeds end up in the final round.
—The last time a team seeded lower than third in a conference made it to the NBA finals was when the Knicks -- the East's No. 8 -- lost to San Antonio in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.
—The last time a team seeded lower than third in a conference won an NBA title was in 1995 when Houston -- the West's No. 6 -- beat Orlando in the finals.
—Fans love the NFL regular season, yet the league has seen No. 4 Baltimore win the Super Bowl after the 2012 season, the No. 4 NY Giants win it after the 2011 season and the No. 6 Packers win it after the 2010 season.
—The NFL has found a way for its regular-season to matter while the postseason remains unpredictable... and still connected to the events of the regular season.
—Now the NFL regular season is a survival test of some major consequence all in itself. You have to push through the 16-game gauntlet in a somewhat stronger way than most of your competitors to earn the right to get hot in the postseason.
—One of the arguments against adding more and more teams -- though we all know the NFL will keep adding, because that means more money and the NFL never says no to more money -- is that each time you add more teams you cheapen the regular season and add the possibility that a mediocre team just gets red-hot in the postseason without really deserving that chance.
—I think college football has had the best regular season in sports -- talk about each game being relevant. That's why I always point out that the playoff system might weaken the significance of September/October games, but obviously college football is probably strong enough that it doesn't matter, presuming the playoffs are done right.
—We'll see about that.
Anyway, back to college hoops...
You don't want 30+ games before mid-March for Duke, Arizona, North Carolina, UConn, Kentucky, Stanford and all the rest to essentially turn into a dreary four-month preseason, full of shots and fouls and whistles and rebounds that don't actually translate to anything that happens once the tournament begins.
And college basketball got there this year, it seems like.
As Jon Wilner wrote at the start of the tournament, there are severe concerns about the growing insignificance of the regular season in college hoops, and that was before a No. 7 seed that played a lackluster regular season toppled a No. 8 seed that had a lackluster regular season for the national title.
I've written about the new randomness of March Madness and threw out various possible reasons -- the one-and-done phenomenon, the poor shooting fundamentals of many teams and maybe just the general shrinking attention span all-around.
One point I made on Twitter: You want free-throw shooting to matter? UConn won a national title last night in large part because it made its free throws last night and throughout the tournament, and Kentucky lost that game in large part because it couldn't make its free throws.
For all those reasons and I'm sure many more, in this era, the college basketball regular season is just a long precursor.
It isn't a true eliminator (the way it is for the NFL and MLB), because any decent team from a major conference is going to get in.
It isn't a great predictor because we just saw UConn and Kentucky motor through the field with regular-season profiles that very much suggested that they shouldn't have been able to do that.
And I don't want to over-react, because if one year the new randomness gives us a 7 vs. 8 in the final, next year it could randomly give us two 1s in the final... and people will say, hey, what's the problem?
I think there's a problem, and it's not with the tournament. It's with the lost relevance of the regular season.
Unless you're just looking at it as an NBA developmental league, and I keep getting told that college basketball is above that.