In Tournaments, N.C.A.A. Shines at Its Athletes’ Expense

For the last three weeks, the nation has once again watched outstanding men’s and women’s Division I college basketball tournaments. The tournaments, like the season itself, represent the essence, as the N.C.A.A. likes to say, of amateurism: playing not for money, but for the love of the game.

The men’s semifinal game Saturday night between Michigan State and Connecticut was as entertaining as any regular-season N.B.A. game. On top of that, the Spartans have effectively cast themselves as an inspirational beacon in a troubled city.