Saturday, March 23, 2013

NCAA Tournament - Who Are These Guys?

Surprise! Surprise!
Or is it really a surprise any more when a number-15 seed beats a two-seed or a 13 or 14-seeded team springs the "upset" win on the team they face?
The Georgetown Hoyas, New Mexico Lobos and Kansas State Wildcats all fell in the early round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament the past two days. A fourth team, number-three seeded Marquette in the East Region of the tourney, barely survived number-14 Davidson on Thursday afternoon, rallying back from seven points down in the final minute to pull out the win.
The fact is these teams are fairly balanced talent wise these days when it comes to the tournament. It's not at all like the days when you could pretty much pencil in the Elite Eight or Final Four in the March Madness.
Remember, just three years ago, Butler stunned the college basketball world by reaching the Final game before losing by just two points to Duke.
In 2011, they did it again by reaching the Final game, this time losing to Connecticut, another surprise team in their own right that year. Another "Cinderella" was Virginia Commonwealth, which also made the Final Four in 2011. How about George Mason making the Final Four in 2006?
Can we really call these teams "Cinderella" any more?
The kids (young men) don't stay all four years (or even three years for that matter) any more to help a team have the cohesiveness necessary to be consistent from one season to the next.
The mid-majors have made their mark on the tournament and continue to do so. They aren't going away anytime soon, either.
Every year people make such a big deal out of the "upsets" that take place in the tournament. But can we really refer to them as "upsets" anymore?
When filling out a bracket on Monday, I looked around the regions and thought to myself this tournament is going to be wide open and that has been the case in these first two days.
When Harvard beat New Mexico in the West regional, it was surprising yes, but not all that stunning of an upset. Florida Gulf Coast knocked off Georgetown last night in the South region. The "upset" by the Eagles shouldn't be that surprising though because this team beat Miami (Florida), which is the number-two seed in the East, earlier this season. Plus the fact the Hoyas had been slumping as the tournament approached also factored into the results.
Kansas State (number-four seed) also fell hard, losing to LaSalle yesterday in the West region. The West features number-one team Gonzaga, which used to be considered the "Cinderella" on an annual basis in March.
The Zags nearly got knocked off by Southern University Thursday afternoon before squeaking out the win to advance to the Round of 32 teams today and tomorrow. A number-16 team has NEVER beaten a number-one seed.
It's going to happen one of these years and then all the clamoring about the biggest upset ever will be echoed throughout the land as the bracket sheets are torn into pieces by the basketball fans.
Looking ahead, the Sweet 16 takes place next weekend and the Heftyinfo picks still has three of four Final Four teams left in the mix. Georgetown was the choice to win the title against Louisville.
Oh well.
The prediction business is tricky because as stated before, one never knows just what these 18, 19 and 20-year old kids are going to do game in and game out.
That is why they play the games and that's why we call it March Madness.

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