Madness finished

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By Tommie Kendall

March Madness came to a finish on Monday night and, in the end, after the teams dwindled down to just two, it wasn’t decided until the final shot of the tournament.

It was a fitting way to end this men’s NCAA basketball season, although the team most of America was rooting for came up one basket short of that Hollywood ending everyone seemed to be hoping for. Duke’s win wasn’t secured until Butler’s final shot was barely off target, allowing Duke to celebrate a 61-59 championship win.

Out of the four No. 1 seeds, Duke was the surprising one that claimed the title. And even more surprising was who Duke beat in the finals. Teams like Butler are considered an endangered species, but I have a feeling they will be more common in the next few years. Smaller schools are getting too talented, and larger ones are focusing too much attention on the one-and-done players. Look at Kentucky. Need I say more?

While the NCAA tournament was wrapping up, so was this year’s Henry Hoopla contest. Thanks to Duke, Holly Hollingsworth moved into the top spot of the 306 entrants with 85 total points. I will say she is very talented considering the fact that she didn’t even pick three Final Four teams — for some reason she left them blank — but still had enough points to win the whole thing. She picked up 20 points in the final weekend to claim the top prize and earn those bragging rights. Vickie Morrison was second with 78 points and Harvey Marlow was third with 72.

As for the rest of us, we seemed to be dead set that Kentucky was going to play Kansas in the finals. Kansas was shocked by Northern Iowa in the second round, and Kentucky was knocked out by West Virginia in the Elite Eight. That left Duke, Butler, West Virginia and Michigan State in the Final Four.

While a handful of brackets had Butler advancing to the final weekend, including mine, none had it going all the way to the final game. Meanwhile, eight brackets had Duke winning it all, including my two-year-old daughter Emma, who had a tough time deciding between Duke or Louisville for the title. It was enough to move her into a top-10 spot. As evidence that she had those two teams in the finals, I swear I had nothing to do with her picks. This year, she was on her own.

Now that March Madness is over, it’s time to relax a bit. Honestly, I anticipated Butler winning the finals on Monday night — it was destiny, and I said it would eventually be turned into a movie script. But this is the real world, and it never happened. I’m sure there’ll be no movie deal.

I’ve been wrong before, countless times, and I’ll be wrong again. In fact, I was wrong 30 times in this tournament alone. Next year, though, will be my year. I feel it.

Tommie can be reached at (502)845-2858 or sports@hclocal.com. Check out the Hoopla results on page B3.