It's easy to argue that the rise of the NCAA basketball tournament, the Final Four in particular, is one of the great sports stories of the past 65 years. It has grown from an almost second-rate affair in 1939 to one of the biggest events of the sports calendar. NCAA March Madness: Cinderellas, Superstars, and Champions from the NCAA Men's Final Four is an excellent way to review how far the tournament has come, and to relive its great moments.
The editors have collected some of the best basketball writers in the country—Billy Reed, Frank Deford, Dick Weiss, Dave Kindred and Art Spander among them—to review the Final Four, year by year. They get some help from John Wooden, winner of 10 championships as coach at UCLA, who contributes the book's introduction. Just about anything Wooden says and does is worthwhile, so it's wonderful to hear from this wise man here. The accompanying DVD of the highlights of the 1979, 1983 and 1987 Final Fours is a nice touch. Between the book and the DVD, March Madness is a great package. Copyright 2004 BookPage Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
College basketball's "biggest stage" gets a year-by-year treatment in this coffee-table book and accompanying DVD. The book covers the wildly popular sporting event of March Madness from its inception in 1939 (when the Oregon Ducks beat the Ohio State Buckeyes) to the 2004 crown (when top-ranked UConn triumphed over Georgia Tech). Each year's game summary is written by a different newspaper sports editor, and most writers are matched with years in which their home team won the tournament. They document upsets, spectacular performances and gaffes, simultaneously charting college basketball's evolution from a money-losing venture (the first tournament lost $2,531) to a forum on race (in 1962, Mississippi State refused an invite to the NCAA Tournament because it would have to play integrated teams) to a showcase of supreme athleticism (which Wooden, former UCLA coach and winner of 10 NCAA championships, laments: "If I want to see showmanship, I'll go see the Globetrotters"). Although stiff pages make the book difficult to page through and keep open, fans probably won't mind; they'll be sucked in by the stories and photos of drama on the courts. Photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.