Publishers Weekly Review
In this enjoyable guide, journalists Mehler and Paikert select what they consider to be the NCAA basketball tournament's top-10 final games. The authors interview players and coaches and explore the tournament's history and how it has evolved. For example, Loyola's march to its 1963 championship was racially charged: the all-white Mississippi State team snuck into its game with integrated Loyola against the wishes of Mississippi state politicians. Just over a decade later, the 1979 final featuring Larry Bird, playing for Indiana State, and Magic Johnson, from Michigan State, set the stage for the NBA's rise in the 1980s. In 2010, millions of TV viewers watched as perennial champions Duke battled upstart Butler, in what "would have been considered by many the greatest upset in NCAA finals history." Many of the anecdotes may be common knowledge to serious hoops fans, and some of the descriptions are simply unwieldy ("The story was related to us by a reliable Kansas source on the Yucatan Peninsula, where an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, paving the way for the invention of basketball"). Those shortcomings aside, the narrative's pace is brisk and the stories are entertaining. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.