And so endeth possibly the blandest NCAA tournament in recent memory. In the end, the chalk talked. A few untimely absences (Fab Melo, Kendall Marshall) maybe made Kentucky's road to the title a little easier than it might have been, but really, nobody works the system better than John Calipari these days. Come play for me for a year, we'll win games, and I'll turn you into a lottery pick - what kid in his right mind would refuse that? You go 29th in the draft, you wash out of the league in a couple of years, you've still got plenty of cash to go back and finish up that degree with. It's a no-brainer.
But yet this year, ratings be damned, seemed ultimately dull. Too many of the close games were close because one or both teams spent the second half clanging shots off iron. Too many games turned into throttlings. And while it was fun to celebrate Norfolk State and "We messed up people's brackets", all the bracket-messing-up was essentially gone by the end of the first weekend. Hell, even the usual frenzies of "how's your bracket? how's your bracket" seemed muted this year; everyone knew the answer. You picked Mizzouri or Duke, you were screwed. You picked any other high seeds, you were generally fine for a good long way.
So congrats to Kentucky, and hopefully the fires will be out soon. (Seriously. One report from a Lexington, KY police scanner indicated that the cops were just letting the small fires burn, because they were stretched too thin already to deal with every minor act of arson). Here's wishing its players well at the next level; when interviewed they generally seemed like decent folk as well as transcendent talent, and it's a cinch they're not sticking around. And already, no doubt, the Joe Lunardis of the world are putting together their first brackets of the 2013 tournament, because it's not enough to enjoy what just happened; we need to be on the way to the next thing already or else we risk becoming irrelevant.
Of course, if you keep rushing away from the things you've built up as important, that's a way to get irrelevant, too. But don't tell Lunardi and his ilk. They've got a 15-2 game a year from now to make a completely random guess at, and to someone other there, it matters.