For basketball enthusiasts, an overview of the NCAA’s championship, highlighting the Final Four contestants.
It starts with 68 teams and proceeds by loss and elimination until two collegiate basketball squads square off in the finals. But, as Doeden has wisely estimated, it is often in the semifinals that the most memorable games are played: the Final Four. He starts this survey with the birth of modern basketball, its evolution from a rather flat-footed contest to its current electric wizardry, and on to the inevitable desire to crown a national champion at the end of the season. Doeden is clearly a sports enthusiast, capable of investing the most hackneyed phrases—“thrills, chills, and more than a share of heartbreak”—with total sincerity. Three-quarters of the book, which is saturated with glossy color photographs, is given over to memorable games, and the picks are almost a given. But Doeden still imbues them with considerable romance, especially when underdogs make it to the closing brackets. He also introduces important issues facing the sport today, such as player compensation and the potentially deleterious effects of the one-and-done model: players putting in one year of college (or one year after high school, period) before their eligibility to turn professional.
A solid collection of choice basketball nuggets, “from the thrill of Cinderella teams to breathtaking, game-winning buzzer-beaters.” (sources, glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)