Sixteen sweet NCAA moments

Lacey Holsworth's friendship with Michigan State's Adreian Payne was one of the enduring stories of the 2014 NCAA tournament. AP Photo/Michael Conroy

It is hard to believe that the national championship in men's college basketball was decided last week. It feels like Connecticut cut down the nets longer ago.

It was an incredible 2014 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Now that I have had time to reflect, here are 16 storylines and moments from a great stretch of March Mayhem.

1. Welcome to Olliewood: Connecticut wins the national championship as a No. 7 seed. Kevin Ollie, in his first NCAA tournament and second season as coach, leads the Huskies to the promised land. It was quite a run, starting with an overtime thriller over Saint Joseph's. Connecticut beat Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, Florida and Kentucky en route to the title. Shabazz Napier was the star of stars, winning the Most Outstanding Player award.

2. Big Blue Nation is proud: Kentucky, picked No. 1 one in the preseason, was not in the final regular-season AP Top 25. John Calipari's team was a No. 8 but went on a roll, defeating Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan and Wisconsin before falling to Connecticut. For the first time, five freshmen almost won the championship.

3. Gator bait: Florida was the top seed in the tournament and moved a step further than it did in the previous three seasons, when the Gators lost in the Elite Eight. Billy Donovan's squad saw its 30-game win streak snapped by the Huskies at the Final Four. Florida had just three assists in that loss.

4. Bo knows Final Four: Bo Ryan made his first Final Four appearance as Wisconsin beat Arizona in the Elite Eight to advance to Texas. The Badgers have a bright future with Frank Kaminsky among the returning starters.

5. Mercer over Duke: Coach K saw his season end against Atlantic Sun champion Mercer in one of the bigger early-tournament stunners.

6. Taking a Flyer on Dayton. Archie Miller's squad knocked off Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford before falling to Florida.

7. 12 over 5: It seems to happen almost every year, the dreaded 12 over 5 upset. This season, it occurred three times: Stephen F. Austin over VCU, North Dakota State over Oklahoma, and Harvard over Cincinnati. No. 12 seeds could have gone 4-for-4, but Saint Louis rallied to beat NC State.

8. Cardinal knowledge: Stanford knocked off a pair of highly regarded teams in New Mexico and Kansas.

9. ACC you later: The ACC sent Virginia, Duke, Syracuse, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and NC State to the tournament, but the conference was shut out of the Elite Eight.

10. Big Ten is Elite: The Big Ten was the only conference with three teams in the Elite Eight (Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin), but only the Badgers made the Final Four.

11. Harrison magic: Kentucky's Aaron Harrison showed why he is a big-time winner, hitting clutch shots late as the Cats advanced to the final game.

12. Adorable Lacey. Even though it was after the tournament, the death of 8-year old Lacey Holsworth had an impact all across America. Michigan State senior Adreian Payne loved that young girl, and their friendship drew national attention. It really broke my heart when she died.

13. Farewell, seniors: The tournament marked the end for a number of seniors, including Doug McDermott, C.J. Fair, Sean Kilpatrick, Napier and Payne. Napier got to cut down the nets in AT&T Stadium.

14. Vols on a roll: Tennessee was a No. 11 seed that barely made the field. Cuonzo Martin's team proved it belonged by beating Iowa, Massachusetts and Mercer before falling to Michigan.

15. At the buzzer. There were many exciting finishes in the tournament. How many people remember the end of the Texas-Arizona State game?

16. Wichita State's rough road: The committee didn't do any favors to Gregg Marshall's team. The Shockers deserve a salute despite falling to Kentucky in one of the best games of the tournament.