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March Madness ended with few shining moments for Indiana, the Mountain West and more
Legacies are made in March. Or in this case, unmade.
For all the accomplishments for coaches, players and teams through the 2012-13 season, so much of the perception and reputations are built on the stage of the NCAA Tournament.
Through the 2012-13 season, we watched Indiana return to No. 1 status. We watched Gonzaga reach No. 1 for the first time in school history. And we watched the Mountain West compete at the highest level.
But the story of the season won’t be complete without mentioning the final images of the season -- Indiana’s struggling to score on Syracuse, Gonzaga’s getting burned by a three-point shot against Wichita State, and the conspicuous absence of any Mountain West team in the second week of the Tournament.
By Monday night, 67 teams finished the NCAA Tournament on the losing end, but here are those who especially may want to hide their heads during the offseason.
Related: 2013 NCAA Tournament winners
2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT LOSERS
Tom Crean, Indiana
The job Tom Crean has done to resuscitate Indiana is admirable. His sideline demeanor, though, is not. The master of the blow-by handshake breezed by Jim Boeheim after the loss to Syracuse after a woeful offensive performance in the Sweet 16. Arguing about the decorum of a handshake can be tiresome, but Crean’s habit of speeding through the handshake line after losses, taking his time to to arrive at postgame press conferences and sparring with an opposing assistant threatens to make the IU coach unlikeable to anyone outside of Bloomington.
Cody Zeller, Indiana
The preseason player of the year and potential NBA lottery pick looked like he needed a little more seasoning in the Hoosiers’ loss to Syracuse. Zeller looked lost against the Syracuse zone and had more shots blocked (five) than he had field goals (three) against the Orange.
March was not a good month to be an administrator in college athletics. Away from the NCAA Tournament, Rutgers fired its athletic director after video of Mike Rice’s mistreatment of players was aired on ESPN. The Pac-12 coordinator of officials resigned after an “inappropriate joke” about targeting Arizona coach Sean Miller. At the Tournament, NCAA president Mark Emmert sparred with reporters at his Final Four press conference. And too many games featured questionable officiating in the final minutes, most recently the held ball the prevented Wichita State from taking a final shot against Louisville in the Final Four.
This was supposed to be Mark Few’s best chance to reach his first Final Four. Instead, he never made it out of the first weekend and was lucky to avoid being the first coach of a No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed. The best team in school history lost to Wichita State in the round of 32, which doesn’t seem quite so bad after the Shockers defeated Ohio State in the Elite Eight and gave Louisville trouble in the Final Four. Still, the loss has given Gonzaga its third consecutive loss in the round of 32.
The Mountain West
This was a banner season for the Mountain West with the league sending five teams to the NCAA Tournament. For the Tournament, though, the league went home with a participant trophy. No MWC team reached the second weekend, but what’s more startling is the list of teams that eliminated the league’s team from the tournament: No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast, No. 14 Harvard, No. 13 La Salle and No. 12 Cal. Only Colorado State could leave the tournament holding its head up high, and the eighth-seeded Rams lost in the round of 32 to Louisville.
Georgetown and Pittsburgh’s luck
Georgetown and Pittsburgh are going to be criticized for their tendency to exit the NCAA Tournament early, but let’s consider for a second that both teams have run into the hot hand in the postseason. That's especiall true for the Hoyas. Georgetown lost to Florida Gulf Coast in 2013, NC State in 2012, Final Four-bound VCU in 2011 and Stephen Curry-led Davidson in 2008. Only the 2010 loss to 14th-seeded Ohio in the first round is truly egregious in this string of early exits. The same could be said for Pittsburgh, which last lost to Wichita State (a Final Four team) and Butler (a national runner-up) in two of the last three tournaments.
The Big 12
The league wasn’t at its best this season, but the Big 12 did not distinguish itself in the Tournament. The last team standing -- No. 1 seed Kansas -- coughed up a 14-point lead in the final 6:51 of regulation before losing in overtime to Michigan. Even if Oregon was not a typical No. 12 seed and La Salle ended up in the Sweet 16, Oklahoma State and Kansas State still lost to double-digit seeds. Meanwhile, Oklahoma was a no-show against the same San Diego State team that lost by 10 to Florida Gulf Coast. But, hey, at least Baylor won the NIT.
The 2013 NCAA Tournament probably marked the end of Marshall Henderson being a compelling college basketball villain to just a villain. Henderson flipped off the entire arena on his way to the locker room after he said fans in Kansas City taunted him. He was photographed spending some time on the town in K.C. after the upset of Wisconsin, and he’s fond of using the word “HOES” on Twitter. After leading Ole Miss to its best season in more than a decade, Henderson apologized to Rebels fans.
The Tigers were a top-10 team at one point this season. Seems crazy, doesn’t it? Missouri went 11-7 in a lackluster SEC and then lost by 12 to Colorado State in the round of 64. Frank Haith may be having regular season success with Mizzou, but this loss comes a year after the Tigers lost to No. 15 seed Norfolk State.
The UCLA-Minnesota game
The round of 64 game between UCLA and Minnesota turned out to be more like a December bowl game than playoff game as the Bruins and Gophers fired Ben Howland and Tubby Smith, respectively, before the following Monday.
A Sweet 16 appearance in 2012 raised expectations for Mark Gottfried’s second team in Raleigh, expectations the Wolfpack never matched. After limping through an 11-7 season in the ACC, NC State lost 76-72 to Temple in the round of 64, and no one was really shocked. A team stocked with pro potential, NC State lost three of its final five games.
Low-majors not named Florida Gulf Coast
The talking heads, Athlon included, pinpointed all their favorite mid-major and low-major upset picks when the brackets were released, and almost none of the trendy picks panned out. Right after the Selection Show, you were more likely to hear pundits talking about Belmont, Bucknell and South Dakota State than Florida Gulf Coast or Harvard. Belmont, Bucknell and South Dakota State all lost their round of 64 games by double figures.