The teacher in me has decided to give the recent NCAA Tournament grades for things they accomplished in this COVID-19 season. Most are good, but there are a few things the reigning body of control in collegiate athletics needs to work on.
First, the fact that a tournament was played at all is certainly credible. Last year, as the virus was just making its way into the country, there was no "Big Dance." No tournament was played at all, with no champions crowned. Grade-A+
The idea to bring all 64 teams to one city to play the entire tournament was brilliant. The concept, while not feasible in a regular year, was fabulous. Even though the crowds were restricted, it felt like a nearly normal NCAA Tournament.
Now for more critical grading. The fact that Oregon State was forced to leave the team hotel in the wee hours of the morning after losing an "Elite 8" game made no sense at all. The Beavers were forced to get on a 1:15 a.m. flight and return home after dropping a 67-61 decision to second seed Houston. Grade-F
While March Madness is meant to be about both men's and women's tournaments, this year the NCAA made the women feel as if they were not a part of the main event. Though the governing body would probably argue that point, all you need to do is ask some of the coaches and players involved on the women's side. Grade-D
For looking ahead and seeding teams correctly, the NCAA gets a great grade. The fact that the number one and two teams in the nation ( Gonzaga and Baylor) met for the championship is commendable. Grade-A
As for the television broadcasts, several of the public service announcements for the tournament were outstanding. They were timely and well-produced, especially the one that spoke of getting things back to normal after the Coronavirus. Grade-A
The National Anthem for the Championship game that featured a choir made up of doctors, nurses, first responders and military personnel was amazing, and man were they good. Grade-A+
Let it be known that I love Charles Barkley. He is knowledgeable, funny and seems to be a willing target of jokes from other analysts on the pre and post game shows. I also love the Capital One commercials he is in along with Spike Lee, Jim Nance, and Chattanooga's own Samuel L. Jackson. Grade-A
Announcers for the tournament did a great job, especially as the field narrowed in the "Sweet 16" and the "Elite 8." Some of the guys in the early rounds were mediocre at best. Grade-B
After doing the math, the NCAA gets a solid B average for this year's venture into "March Madness." There may be some other factors that may have deserved a grade, but this is my own personal grading system. Overall, a good job. Now, let's do a better job in 2022.
Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org