Today it's 30 down and 70 to go in our summer long journey through the best that college sports has to offer here on the MTB College Sports Bucket List. Slotting in to the 71st position is an event that has produced many professional players, yet flies under the radar in a huge way. Well, in 2013 that will change.
But before we get in to the event we're talking about, don't forget to take a gander in to our 72nd game, one that should be near and dear to all Wisconsinites - The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. If you are surprised it's that low on our list, remember it's a bucket list and more than a few of us on staff have seen that game live before.
Now on to the rest of the countdown and today it's another NCAA Championship Event:
No. 71: NCAA Division II Elite Eight (DII Basketball):
Every year this event seemingly gets better and better and a lot has to do with the coaching and talent on the court getting a lot better year by year. However, it always falls under the radar because it takes place around the main event of the spring - the NCAA DI Tournament.
The Elite Eight can feature future pros and future NBA stars, just ask the likes of Ben Wallace who took his Virginia Union team to the Elite Eight and many others who have gone on to stardom.
It's a unique event because it gets all eight teams in one area to play out the games and for those who may not have seen a D2 basketball game you just may come away surprised by the level that the game is played on.
Overall, one of the smallest schools in the division - Kentucky Wesleyan (900 or so students) - leads the way with 8 DII National Championships, with now DI Evansville in 2nd with 5 titles to their name. Many schools you may recognize as DI now have competed at and won national titles at this level including the all ready mentioned Aces, Cal State Bakersfield, UC Davis, Jacksonville State, South Dakota State, and Winston-Salem State.
It's quite clear once you watch any of the games that the games themselves can be very entertaining and that will certainly be the case in 2013 as the tournament runs in conjunction with the 75th anniversary celebration for the NCAA Tournament. The Elite Eight will have a different look in 2013 as the regional finals and then Semi-finals will be played at one location. However, all tournament finals will be played from the DIII to the DI level on the same weekend in Atlanta, making the stage and the exposure for the finals of these tournaments the most they've ever seen.
Usually the tournament is relegated to CBS Sports Network with just the final airing on CBS in the afternoon before the DI Elite Eight games go, so if you want to check out the event make sure you don't do it this next year for the simple reason that it's not all one weekend and one event. However, if you are in Atlanta for the DI Final Four give the final a look and I bet you'll find yourself wanting to watch more D2 basketball in the future.
Some of the purest forms of the game, away from the bright lights and the crazy ego come out watching DII basketball and the chance to interact and see fans from all over the country converge on one spot make this one of the must see events on the NCAA calendar every year.