There are two kinds of college basketball fans — those who pay attention before March and those who really like charts and gambling. Lacking a natural rooting interest I tend to fall into the latter category, but that is to take nothing away from the extraordinary passion elicited by the sport's true partisans and the mesmerizing proto-reality TV spectacle of each year's tournament. With its manageable roster sizes and relatively fluid cross-pollination of conference play, college basketball allows for a degree of upward mobility inherently impossible in its football counterpart. While perennial juggernauts like Kentucky and Duke remain permanently fixed in the sport's upper echelon, it remains possible for lesser-known schools and mid-majors to contend for a championship every year, which is how you get Butler in the finals twice in recent years, Xavier as a two seed in 2016, and upstart Villanova defeating blue-blood North Carolina on a last-second bucket in one of the best games of any year. Special mention must be made for the Connecticut Huskies' women's basketball team, who went an astounding 38-0 to win their third consecutive national championship. Led by transcendent star Breanna Stewart and legendary coach Gene Auriemma, there may be no greater team in all of sports.
MVP: Breanna Stewart
Runner Up: Ryan Arcidiacono
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