SO…in terms of the Final Four, I am 0-4. So my bracket is useless now and I can begin focusing on baseball, I suppose.
But a few notes first on the teams that have made it to the Final Four, and the 2009 tournament in general.
First, this year’s tournament was perhaps the most boring and least drama filled that I have ever witnessed. In terms of the Sweet Sixteen, there was only one team with a seeding higher than sixth (Arizona as a 12th seed). While that occurred in 2007, the average seeds of the teams in this year’s Sweet Sixteen is lower than in 2007 (3.06 versus 3.1875). Furthermore, that is a rare occurance, not happening any other time in the last ten years. Add to that the fact that this year was the first time all top three seeds made it to the Regional Semis, AND this was the first time in the last ten years (at least) that there were two regions where all four top seeds advanced.
And the buzzer beaters and Cindarellas are lacking, save Villanova’s heroics. A lot of blowouts.
BUT, I would argue what this means is that there is parity in college basketball. I know, all the top seeds winning does not seem like parity, but here is my argument. When George Mason makes it to the Final Four, that is not necessarily parity — that means that among the top teams, there is really only a couple of dominant players. There is really parity among the middle-tier programs, whether it is a team from the Colonial Athletic or one from the ACC. Keep in mind it was still Florida (a team that has been to three title games in the last ten years) versus UCLA (storied program) in the Championship Game in 2006. GMU fell back to earth the following season.
But this year, it seems as though there is no clear team in the top-tier. North Carolina looked like it early on, but a loss to Boston College (who then lost to Harvard) shook up everything. And whenever UConn or Pittsburgh looked to be the team to beat, they would lose.
Having all three seeds in each region make it to the Sweet Sixteen is actually proof that those teams are all solid and that there is parity among the elite programs. However, it shows that the mid-tier is down.
NOW, as for the Final Four for 2009, let me say a couple of things about two of the programs.
First, Connecticut. I hate them. I really do. I do not like Jim Calhoun. I am not a fan of their team at all. BUT, I respected something that they did. Once they won the West Region, they did not cut down the nets. Thank god! Cutting down the nets for winning a region is as worn out as the Gatorade shower. So big ups to Connecticut for showing everyone that just making it to the Final Four is not something to necessarily celebrate. For the Huskies, it will be what happens on Monday (if they are lucky).
Second, Michigan State. I hate MSU. I hate their style of play. But I give mega-props to Tom Izzo. I caught him on PTI this week and on one of the sports talk shows (either Dan Patrick or Jim Rome…I cannot recall) and the guy is awesome. He is down-to-earth, will clown around and have a good time. He was a great interview in both cases. He is the kind of cat you would want to hang around with. Not arrogant and willing to show his lighter side and a sense of humor. I appreciated that, even if I do not like his coaching style.
As for the NCAA title game, I think it will be Connecticut versus North Carolina, with UNC winning it all. I am hoping for the exact opposite — Michigan State v. Villanova. And I hope the Spartans will win it. Not only because, of the four teams remaining, I think fewer people have MSU winning it all (and thus screwing up other people’s bracket), but because that means more kick-ass interviews with Izzo.
Either way, I am not likely to watch the title game. Instead, I’ll be praying for another AL East title for the Rays!