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Philip Maddocks: Be a college basketball expert in 7 easy overstatements

Philip Maddocks

Mario Chalmers’ arcing 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2.1 seconds helped lift Kansas to a 75-68 victory over Memphis in the NCAA national championship game at the Alamodome on Monday night.

More importantly, it gave the assorted print and television analysts just what they needed to make sense of what happens when you take some of the nation’s premiere college athletes, fill them with nervous energy and put them on national television under the guidance of a stressed-out coaching staff.

What you got Monday was one of the more memorable national championship finals, as long as you forget all those missed free throws by Memphis or the more than four minutes Kansas went during the second half without scoring a point, which allowed Memphis to build what would have been an insurmountable lead if the Tigers hadn’t missed three of their four free throws in the final 16 seconds of regulation.

Still, as the clock was winding down in regulation, the wisdom of the expert analysts seemed to be unraveling right along it.

Memphis’ big men had got themselves in early foul trouble and all their men, big and small, had reverted to their pre-tourney habit of missing free throws – the two things the experts said the team couldn’t afford if it hoped to win Monday.

Right up to the point when Chalmers took an awkward pass from a stumbling Sherron Collins, moved to his left and launched the final shot of regulation, it looked like the Memphis team would get away with its brazen disregard for the experts.

But then came that moment of clarity with 2.1 seconds left. Chalmers’ shot dropped. The analysts, who had struggled all game long, finally found their storyline.

Kansas was the logical winner. After all, it was Kansas who had last won the national championship 20 years ago, and it was Kansas who had followed the television experts’ strategy down the stretch, sort of.

As the Jayhawks rolled over Memphis in overtime and on to an inevitable victory, we found ourselves wondering if we would ever have what it takes to be an expert college basketball analyst. I’m sure a lot of you were wondering the same thing.

Would you recognize when to talk about the perimeter or the paint? Would you know whether it was a kid or a young man who was diving for that loose ball?

Well, for you kids and perimeter thinkers out there, we have put together a short quiz to help you assess your potential as a college basketball expert:

Your expert opinion of why Kansas won is:

a. they were the better team

b. they were better coached

c. they have more super delegates

d. they scored more points

Your expert opinion of why Memphis lost is:

a. they played not to lose

b. they played not to win

c. they played

d. they scored more points

Your expert opinion of what Memphis assistant coach John Robic said after Monday’s game – that "everything that needed to work for Kansas worked in their favor" -- is:

a. that Robic is an expert

b. that Robic is a super delegate

c. that everything that needed to work for Kansas worked in their favor

d. that Memphis lost

Your expert opinion of what Kansas coach Bill Self means when he says he plans to meet with Kansas officials to talk about a contract extension because he’d "like to have some security" is:  

a. that he wants protection from Memphis coach John Calipari

b. that he plans to buy a firearm

c. that he has been invited to go hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney

d. that the five-year contract extension he was given last season, increasing his annual compensation to more than $1.3 million, is actually being paid in Nigerian nairas

Your expert opinion of Self’s decision to go to a box-and-one defense early in the second half of the game against Memphis is he was:

a. influenced by nerves

b. influenced by his lack of security

c. influenced by Mark Penn

d. obeying intelligent design

Your expert opinion is that Memphis’ Chris Douglas-Roberts is difficult to defend:

a. because of his unusual talent

b. because of his unusual last name

c. because he plans to go hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney

d. because he is being paid in Nigerian nairas

Your expert opinion of why Monday’s contest was one of the best championship games ever is:

a. that someone had to lose

b. that the players didn’t know what they were doing

c. that the coaches didn’t know what they were doing

d. All of the above

Congratulations!

If you answered any of these questions, you are well on your way to becoming a bonafide college basketball expert.

Philip Maddocks can be reached at pmaddock@cnc.com