GROVER: Greatest season ever

Lloyd Christmas hates goodbyes, and so do I.

It’s the end of another college basketball season. Hey, at least it’s open season at Miller Park now. For the next six months, if you need me, look in Dodgers 3 parking lot. But it would be wrong to not look back at one of the greatest NCAA tournaments in history. Hang on.

There’s a very interesting March 29 column by ESPN.com’s Jeff MacGregor in which he (to extraordinary measures) points out the habit of sportswriters to sensationalize, well, everything. No kidding. Summarizing:

“In sports this means The Greatest Game Ever Played Anywhere has become a weekly occurrence,” MacGregor said.

Thanks. Guilty as anyone else, there will be no bests, greatests, or evers, etc., in the duration of this column. And hopefully, not as much in the future.

How’s your bracket? All right over here. Just picked Connecticut, easy. On the men’s side, though, not so much. Vanderbilt?

There were two teams I was surprised to see make the Final Four and West Virginia wasn’t one of them. Marquette’s loss on the road to the Mountaineers was a real killer, and after the game West Virginia just struck me as a team that had the magic for a deep tourney run. The Big East champions lived up to their reputation all year, but it wasn’t quite enough, and it was sad to see Da’Sean Butler get hurt.

Michigan State, wow. What an anomaly. Coach Tom Izzo, who never shaved his head last year like he said he would, brings his team back to the Final Four on a down year without an injured Kalin Lucas. People rip on the Big Ten for its slow, deliberate style but you cannot argue with the results. Six Final Fours in the last 11 years. After the game I told my roommate Kevin, a Michigan State fan, that it was just getting boring now. He disagreed.

Which brings us to the National Championship showdown, which was not the underdog scenario everyone felt it was. Both of these teams were ranked in the Top 10 to begin and end the year. Somehow Butler got jobbed with a No. 5-seed.

Butler is so small it makes Marquette look big. They were the feel-good story, playing from six miles away. And if I hear any more Hoosiers references I am going to throw up. They had the 25-game winning streak, the star who was going to be the next Larry Bird (Gordon Hayward) and the coach who looks permanently like a third-grade yearbook photo (Brad Stevens). And Hayward almost brought the house down and completely changed the ending of the column. But that half-court shot bounced off the rim, leaving …

Duke. Duke is the team that loses in the Sweet 16 if you put any faith in them in your bracket. But not this time. Duke is a rather unassuming national champion, aren’t they? For being ranked No. 3 overall and winning the ACC, they flew about as under the radar you could.

Izzo was getting all the credit for being a coaching dynamo until Mike Krzyzewski took it away with the help of Kyle Singler, who may not have touched the rim with a shot the whole game and finished with 19 points. Congrats to Duke on a stellar season.

Before the cheesy “One Shining Moment” montage, Jim Nantz said, “Partner, we just watched one of the greatest championship games ever.”

Greatest? Certainly it was compelling television, and Hayward’s miss brought millions to their feet, but MacGregor is right. The need to catalog the “great-ness” in order is arbitrary. It was a wonderful tournament with an unbelievable finish and let’s leave it at that. Nantz got swept up in the moment, and it’s hard to blame him. It’s March (erm, April) Madness. Could you expect anything less?