With an 80-63 loss to Michigan State during competition in Friday night’s Sweet 16 tournament, LSU’s men’s basketball team ended its season with dashed hopes for landing in the Elite Eight, then the coveted Final Four, the biggest match-up in college basketball.

As the fever of March Madness subsides across Tiger Nation, LSU and its supporters will continue to work through another kind of frenzy — the controversy that erupted last month when university officials suspended head coach Will Wade. The suspension followed reports that Wade had been recorded by the FBI possibly breaking NCAA rules regarding a potential recruit. Wade has declined to discuss the matter with LSU leaders, and his future with the team is obviously in doubt.

Given those distractions, LSU’s men’s basketball team has performed well under interim coach Tony Benford.

The mercenary culture of college athletics — and professional athletics, for that matter — can sometime seem like a running exercise in cynicism.

But seeing young athletes play their hearts out against some pretty long odds, as in LSU’s face-off with Michigan State, reminded fans what the game is really supposed to be about.

We congratulate LSU’s men’s basketball team on its season, and we hope the team has better — and calmer — days ahead.

— The (Baton Rouge) Advocate

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