The Dagger - NCAAB

From crazy upsets, to buzzer beaters to nail-biting finishes you'd have to see to believe, the 2011 NCAA tournament has been one of the better ones in recent memory. Now that the madness is winding down, The Dagger thought we'd celebrate by picking 68 things we've loved about the 2011 NCAA tournament.

1. The sign in Richmond hung by VCU fans telling Dick Vitale to "Eat Crow, Baby!" (Jeff Eisenberg)

2. The split screen with President Obama and the Oakland-Texas game. The president is addressing the situation in Libya, Oakland is trying to upset Texas. You decide which is more important. (Graham Watson)

3. John Calipari's kiss planted on the sweaty forehead of DeAndre Liggins. (Ryan Greene)

4. Ohio State and Kansas playing flawlessly one night, establishing themselves as the tournament's prohibitive favorite and then laying an egg the next time they stepped out on the court. The beauty of one and done. (Chris Chase)

5. Shaka Smart ticking down the major conferences VCU has toppled on its way to the Final Four. Awesome. (JE)

6. Matt Howard's socks are gross and don't have any elastic left in them, but they've helped Howard score two game-winning buckets to get his team into the Final Four. (GW)

7. Head coaches who look like graduate assistants (Josh Pastner, Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens). (RG)

8. Jim Larranaga's pregame speech before George Mason got blitzed by Ohio State. So often you get a glimpse inside the locker room and are disappointed that the coach's words are nothing like you'd see in the movies. Larranaga's sounded like they were written by Aaron Sorkin. No wonder the Patriots came out of the gate and took an 11-2 lead before reality set in. (CC)

9. Whatever is the complete opposite of Craig Sager's jackets. (RG)

10. Nasir Robinson after his foul on Shelvin Mack: "I take the blame. I take the blame for the loss. [...] It was a stupid play. It wasn't the ref's fault. It was my fault." You don't have to come out on top in order to be a winner. (CC)

11. Butler's Ronald Nored promising fans, "We're going to get the real call from President Obama and not the runner-up call." (JE)

12. Having sports to watch during the day on Thursday and Friday (GW)

13. During the UConn-San Diego State game, Kemba Walker was so good he kept making me say "so good" out loud. I was watching the game alone. (CC)

14. The continued absence of a BCS-like system. (RG)

15. Mike Bruesewitz's perm. Does this need explanation? His mom perms his hair. Reggie Miller just put him on blast. (GW)

16. That Kentucky students stormed the library after the Wildcats made the Final Four for the first time since '98 (JE)

17. The popular backlash to the NCAA trying to call the first weekend of games the "second" and "third" rounds. Years ago the NCAA tried to name regions by the regional host city and that failed too. (CC)

18. Brandon Knight keeping the art of collar-popping alive after his game-winner against Ohio State. It'll never die. (RG)

19. Hearing Marv Albert's distinctive gravely voice on an NCAA tournament broadcast. (JE)

20. Tennessee's epic meltdown. It's been a long time since a major conference team just gave up during the tournament and that's what the Vols did under their lame-duck coach. (GW)

21. Derrick Williams helping teammate Jamelle Horne up and comforting him after his missed 3-pointer at the buzzer against UConn. Even in defeat, Williams is all class. (JE)

22. Knowing that in five years I'll look back on the bracket and be surprised to be reminded that San Diego State was a No. 2 seed. (CC)

23. Jay Bilas and Steve Kerr … Did you ever think those two would belong in the same sentence in March? (RG)

24. The critics having to backpedal on VCU. If the selection committee is supposed to find the best remaining 37 teams, I'd say they succeeded. (CC)

25. The critics not having to backpedal on UAB. If the selection committee is supposed to find the best remaining 37 teams, I'd say they failed miserably. (CC)

26. That Josh Harrellson has gone from cult hero to bonafide star. Great story, great kid. (JE)

27. Jamie Skeen saying that he thought Kansas' Morris twins were "buttholes" before he actually met them (GW)

28. The tearful Duke locker room. Not because the Blue Devils lost but because it showed how much they cared. (JE)

29. Brandon Knight hits a layup with two seconds left. Demonte Harper drained a three with four seconds left. If neither of those things happen, maybe Rick Pitino is in the Final Four right now and John Calipari is yukking it up with Charles Barkley on the CBS set. (CC)

30. "You don't want to want to go to war, with the Rams... Don't start no stuff, won't be no stuff!" -- VCU's war cry (GW)

31. Michael Jordan making everyone bust out the NCAA rulebook by promising UNC players "anything you want" if they made the Final Four. (RG)

32. Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery are 50 years older than some of the players on the court, but their passion and energy for the games is just as great. (CC)

33. Jared Sullinger bucking conventional wisdom and announcing he'll be back at Ohio State next season. In an era when so many kids are in a rush to get to the NBA, it's nice to see a prospect who's patient. (JE)

34. The weird squiggly line design that guys are now putting in their hair. What is up with that hair design? Have we really flashed back to the '90s? (GW)

35. Only in America can a guy go from being banished to the bathroom stalls by one coach to NCAA tournament beast three years later under the tutelage of another. JORTS!!! (RG)

36. When Greg Gumbel says "up next, except on the West Coast, your late local news" on that first Thursday, knowing the next batch of games are less than 12 hours away. (CC)

37. Chris Mooney signing a 10-year contract at Richmond instead of parlaying his Sweet 16 appearance into a bad job in a major conference. (I'm looking at you Dan Monson and Todd Lickliter) (JE)

38. Kenneth Faried showing everyone that he is indeed the best rebounder in the country (GW)

39. Gus Johnson calling Jimmer's final collegiate performance, even though it was a complete trainwreck. Still, fitting pairing. (RG)

40. The NCAA tournament being resilient enough to withstand foolishness like the First Four almost makes me think expansion to 96 wouldn't be as cataclysmic as I feared. Almost. (I'm pretty sure this was the point all along.) (CC)

41. Reeves Nelson's refusal to wear highlighters on his feet. (RG)

42. The enthusiasm of the raucous pro-San Diego State crowd in Anaheim. The Aztecs may not have beaten UConn, but their fans reveled in the chance to see their team in its first-ever Sweet 16 game. (JE)

43. That Jimmer bomb that tied the game at 63. (CC)

44. Richmond, a city with no NBA teams and limited college basketball pedigree, earning the right to refer to itself for a week as "Hoopstown, USA." (JE)

45. The fact that Morehead State's Kenneth Faried got to be a part of a huge NCAA tournament upset. If there's a kid who deserved it, it was him. (RG)

46. Brad Stevens' good luck glasses (GW)

47. I love Pomeroy ratings and efficiency stats and log5. I love that the tournament showed none of it matters once the ball is tipped even more. (CC)

48. VCU's "kiss it" to the national college basketball pundits. With each passing round, coach Shaka Smart does not forget to mention how the national basketball media didn't think VCU deserved to get in. And let's be honest, it didn't. The Rams have just had a very good run. (GW)

49. This Morehead State T-shirt poking fun at Louisville. (JE)

50. The 12 over 5 upset strikes again (GW)

51. Every game in the first and second round televised in its entirety. Pure bliss for four days. (JE)

52. Four of the first five games of the tournament were decided by two points or less. (CC)

53. All the Jimmer signs in Denver, especially "Jimmerica: Land of the three, Home of the shaved." (JE)

54. Richmond proving it deserved better than a No. 12 seed by making the Sweet 16. (JE)

55. The "Do it for D.J." shirts St. John's fans wore in honor of injured swingman D.J. Kennedy. (JE)

56. The buzzer beater, specifically Morehead State's 3-pointer to beat Louisville. That was one of the most memorable shots of the tourney. (GW)

57. The emergence of smooth-as-butter Jeremy Lamb. I'd buy stock in that kid in a heartbeat. (JE)

58. Here's how teary-eyed Morehead State senior Kenneth Faried responded when asked about his emotions after losing to Richmond:  "I never had time to look back. But now I get the chance to, so, I'm going to miss it. I mean, Morehead is now my second home. I'm going to miss each and every last person that came out and supported us. I'm going to miss my teammates, playing with them, having a great time."

59. Last Thursday, there were moments in each four games when it seemed realistic that each eventual loser would win the game. (CC)

60. Morehead State coach Donnie Tyndall's daughter crying on the bench at the end of the loss to Richmond. It was tough to watch, but reminds you how special the tournament is. (RG)

61. The tweets from media members who were fortunate/unfortunate enough to sit behind Gus. Obstructed view, but replaced by entertaining dance moves and shimmies. (RG)

62. Jacob Pullen's emotion after losing to Wisconsin. Even thought K-State nation didn't like the question, Pullen's emotion was some of the rawest we've seen during this tournament. (GW)

63. In becoming the next George Mason, very few have called VCU "the next George Mason." (CC)

64. Jimmer mania — Sad to see it end, but it was a good run for Jimmer especially since everyone counted BYU out after the first round. (GW)

65. Onions! (GW)

66. One Shining Moment … because it can't be any worse than it was last year. (RG)

67. Derrick Williams' dunks (GW)

68. Every year at around 11:58 a.m. on Thursday, I think to myself, "don't get too excited, Chris. The tourney can't possibly live up to your ridiculously high expectations." I'm always right. It far exceeds them every time. (CC)

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