The Connecticut Huskies are not only an unlikely NCAA champion, they're also one of the most difficult to categorize.

They don't fit any of the models we've come to expect from the last team standing.

Despite their seed, the Huskies lack the Cinderella feel of an N.C. State or Villanova. (With four titles in the past 15 years, UConn is one of the game's blue bloods.)

But at the same time, the Huskies weren't a dominant team during the regular season (tied for third in a so-so league) and deserved the seed they got.

Nor were they in possession of a Lottery Pick-loaded roster that coalesced at just the right time. (It's quite possible they won't produce a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.)

They didn't finish with a flourish. They don't have a Final Four-tested coach. They needed overtime to beat St. Joe's in the round of 64.

They were a good team that got hotter and better by the round and took down the No. 1 overall seed (Florida), the popular pre-tournament pick (Michigan State) and the most talented roster (Kentucky).

There was no well-lighted path for their journey, no obvious historical parallel.

They are more outlier than anything.

Outlier and champion.

To the winners and losers . . .

Winner: Chaos. The combined seeds of Kentucky and Connecticut (15) was the highest in tournament history, and it's not even close. (Previous high: No. 3 UConn vs. No. 8 Butler.) Add the fact that this was the first time both finalists were seeded lower than No. 3, and we have a new standard for Madness.

Loser: The regular season. The four-month, 30-plus-game season already had a relevance problem. With Nos. 7 and 8 seeds meeting for the title, it further erodes the game-in, game-out significance of the long haul from November to early March.

Winner: The Calipari method. So long as you can cope with the occasional NIT loss to Robert Morris, his recruit-the-one-and-dones approach has its benefits. BIG benefits. But how long will it last?

Loser: HoF'ers. Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo and Roy Williams have combined for 35 Final Fours and 10 titles. The best they could muster this year was one Elite Eight appearance (Michigan State).

Winner: The Commonwealth. Either Kentucky or Louisville has played for the title three consecutive years (and won two of the three).

Loser: Tobacco Road. For the first time since 1979, college basketball's legendary hotbed was shut out of the Sweet 16.

Winner: The AP preseason poll. Based on returning and incoming talent, it's arguably the most accurate predictor of tournament success. One of the top-two teams in the preseason poll has played for the title three years in a row (and won it twice).

Loser: Cinderellas. The early rounds were epic, but the closest we got to a Cinderella was a team from the six-bid Atlantic 10 (Dayton) in the Elite Eight.

Winner: Kevin Ollie. He pulled all the right strings in a dazzling six-game run and -- let's not forget the historical significance -- became the first African American coach to win the NCAA title since Nolan Richardson in '94.

Loser: Mitch McConnell. The senate minority leader committed a gaffe that won't soon be forgotten in his home state.

Winner: Guard play. Between Shabazz Napier's leadership and all-around skill and Aaron Harrison's clutch shooting, the finalists proved yet again that guards rule in March (and April).

Loser: Advanced statistics. I'm a firm believer that there's a place for efficiency ratings, etc. But the title game matchup should serve as a reminder that advanced stats are, like the RPI in the selection process, just one tool.

Winner: Greg Anthony. Sharp and insightful in his first season as a game analyst.

Loser: West Coast hoops. The Final Four drought turned six. Not since UCLA in 2008 have the leagues with a footprint in the Pacific Time Zone produced a national semifinalist.

Winner: The SEC. Two teams in the Final Four, a third in the Sweet 16 -- not bad for a league that only sent three into the NCAAs.

Loser: The Big Ten. Another year without a national title (14 and counting). Plus, it had to watch the SEC's success.

Winner: Pac-12. Had you told the conference on March 16 that it would send three teams to the Sweet 16, the response would have been overwhelmingly positive.

Loser: Pac-12. Had you told the conference on March 26 that none of the three teams in the Sweet 16 would reach the Final Four, the response would have been overwhelmingly subdued.

Winner: Aaron Harrison. The freshman hit more clutch shots than any player in recent memory -- perhaps more than any player in tournament history.

Loser: Andrew Wiggins. Sure, he's headed for riches and fame in the NBA and is the presumptive No. 1 pick. But his underwhelming performance against Stanford will define his legacy in Lawrence.