History Doesn't Repeat--But It RhymesSubmitted by Bernhardt Wealth Management on March 29th, 2020
By Les Truthly, United Fake News (UFN)
March 29, 2020—Sioux Falls, SD
The Final Four concludes in the most unpredictable way ever
I saw it happen, and I still can’t believe it. In one of the wildest, most unforeseen closings in recent memory, the unlikely Cavaliers of the University of Virginia—a team that was respectable but not dominant during the regular season—defeated the second-seeded Aztecs of San Diego State to clinch their second consecutive INCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship.
This tournament had more twists and turns than a road in the Rockies. It was as hard to guess as an Agatha Christie mystery. It was—well, I’m fresh out of metaphors.
It all started, though, with the aptly named Shockers of Wichita State, who elbowed their way into the tournament from the outside. They won not only their play-in round, but also ran the table for the next three straight games, toppling #4 Ohio State, #1 Dayton, and #3 Villanova on their way to face San Diego State in the semifinal match. Underdog-lovers the world over were pulling for Wichita State to make it past the Aztecs’ twin engines, Yanni Wetzell and Malachi Flynn, but it was not to be. An amazing post-season run for the Shockers came to an end as they lost to San Diego State, 75–80, sending them home as the Aztecs prepared to face the winner of the Virginia-Kansas matchup.
And this is where it all starts to make sense—kind of. Even though mighty #1 Kansas came into the INCAA tourney ranked at the apex in combined basketball power index (BPI) statistics—9.2 in offense and 9.6 in defense, for a combined score of 18.8—they faced defensive genius Tony Bennett and his Cavs, the INCAA Division I BPI defensive leader, with an astounding 11.6 ranking. Fans on both sides of the court were expecting a defensive showdown, and they got it—in spades.
While defensive basketball may not be as thrilling to watch as the fast-breaking fireworks of teams like Duke or Gonzaga, it sure was effective for Virginia this season. In fact, let’s look at their regular-season matchup against Duke. Playing heads-up against a Blue Devils team that averaged 82 points per game during the regular season, the Cavs allowed only 50 points in a contest that the Blue Devils ultimately lost, 50–52. Also consider that coming into the showdown with Kansas, Virginia was on a hot streak, having won their last eight regular-season games and then beating #11 USC, #3 Louisville, #2 Florida State, and #1 Baylor to earn their ticket to the semifinal.
And what a semifinal it was. The Jayhawks jumped out to a ten-point lead by the second quarter, led, as usual, by the team’s scoring leaders Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike. But then, that famous Cavalier patience and discipline started to kick in as a rock-steady defense began to deny Kansas good scoring opportunities and forcing turnovers that allowed Virginia to gain ground on the scoreboard. By the mid-point of the fourth quarter, it was anybody’s game. If Virginia has excelled at anything this season—and especially during the tournament—it was that decidedly un-flashy quality of steadiness under pressure. In the end, it paid off, giving Virginia, a #6 seed, an almost unbelievable 62–60 victory against the Jayhawks, ranked first in the nation for most of this season and tournament. The Cavaliers seem to specialize in winning the nail-biters.
On Sunday night, then, it was down to the Cavaliers and the Aztecs. San Diego State came into the title game with an impressive 17–1 record in the Mountain West Conference and a 30–2 regular season record overall. The only games they lost this year were against University of Nevada–Las Vegas (63–66) and Utah State (56–59), the Mountain West conference champion. Virginia, on the other hand, was 15–5 in the ACC, 23–7 overall during the regular season.
And yet, as many opponents have learned, the one thing you don’t want Virginia to have is momentum. Though they came into this game as the underdog—yet again—you couldn’t tell it when the Cavs took the court. Except for a brief period in the third quarter when it looked like San Diego might be mounting a run, the Cavaliers controlled the tempo of the game. The super-steady Virginia defense was nearly impenetrable—throwing the Aztecs off their game plan, blocking shots, owning the boards, and generally taking advantage of every opportunity that fell their way. By the final buzzer, it was 60–56 Virginia; for the second time in INCAA tournament history, a #6 seed won the whole thing. The last time a #6 seed won the championship was in 1988 when the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 83-79. Mamadi Diakite was the INCAA tournament MVP.
In an interesting side note, we learned of only one perfect bracket for the tournament. Given the number of upsets, you’d assume that nobody would be able to predict 100% of the outcomes, and yet one incredibly astute—or incredibly lucky—fan did just that. Solon Vlasto, a Principal and Senior Advisor with Virginia-based investment advisory firm Bernhardt Wealth Management, turned in the only flawless bracket in the country. Reached for comment after returning from the victorious Virginia locker room, Gordon “Smiley” Bernhardt, President and CEO of the Imaginary National Collegiate Athletics Association, expressed extreme surprise upon learning about Vlasto’s perfect bracket. “In a tournament as crazy as this one has been, that’s really hard to understand,” he said. “I’d like to get this guy to start buying lottery tickets for me.” Vlasto, on the other hand, had a simple explanation. “In our business, we have to predict the future all the time. All I did was polish up and re-calibrate my crystal ball a little bit, and the results speak for themselves.”
However you size it up, this year’s INCAA tournament has been one for the ages. Even a veteran sportswriter like yours truly doubts that a similar one has ever happened—or ever will. But one thing is certain, the Virginia Cavaliers will be entering the 2020-21 basketball season as the defending national champion. That is not fake news.