Final Four Set: Unpleasable Sports Analysts Now Whining About College Hoops Parity
VCU was not supposed to even be in the tournament, by most accounts. I’ll readily admit, I thought they would not make it past the play-in round (I still refuse to acknowledge that as the new “first round”). Instead they have won not only won all of their games against increasingly stff competition, but won most of them handily.
The Butler Bulldogs were, at one point during the regular season, a legitimately weak team. They were struggling in conference play and had to significantly turn their season around just to enter the tournament as an 8th seed. Their path to the Final Four has seen them repeatedly pull out nail-biters, showing incomparable poise and resolve en route to their second straight Final Four appearance.
Connecticut was supposed to finish last in the Big East, according to the pre-season coaches poll. Then came the Hawaii Invitational where Kemba Walker promptly exploded all over the scene as an immediate Naismith Award candidate. Now they are the last team standing from a conference alternately exalted and maligned throughout the year.
Finally, Kentucky lost one of its recruits to ineligibility early in the season, had a stretch of games in the SEC where it looked like they couldn’t quite get their footing, and generally appeared to not quite be ready for prime time. Now they enter the Final Four as the highest remaining seed in the tournament.
This is what college basketball has brought us this year, and it has been exciting. So of course certain sports analysts have decided to decry the process as being “almost random,” since the best teams in the regular season are not going to be crowned champions of game. Nevermind the fact that in every sport the post-season is seen as the most important time of the year, and people regularly point out that no one gets or deserves a “Best Team in the Regular Season” trophy. Nevermind the fact that part of the NFL’s popularity is the parity, and no one gripes when a 6th seed like the Packers wins a championship. Instead they say the team got hot at “just the right time” or that they were “playing their best when it matters most.”
This morning, the boys on Mike & Mike (who I usually don’t hate) actually had the gall to compare the NCAA Tournament somewhat unfavorably to the BCS system. Yes, you’re reading that right: it was actually questioned as to whether or not a system where championships are decided entirely by playing the games is somehow inferior to a system where some dudes and computers get together and figure out who is or isn’t worthy. It’s like asking if a scheduled punch in the face is better than free ice cream where you can’t select the flavor because at least the punch in the face is less “random.” Actually, it’s not like that at all, but ridiculous arguments deserve lazy ass analogies, so there you go.
Gentlemen, this is college basketball. This is March Madness. This is what people love to see. Now look, if some 15-14 team that only got in by winning a weak conference tourney somehow wormed their way into the Final Four, I might understand concern about the effectiveness of the system. That isn’t the case. These teams are overachievers and underdogs, yes, but they are not unworthy. They are the best in the game right now because they played the best when it counted the most. It’s not random. It’s what they have earned by going out every game, settling it on the court and besting their opponents.
How could their possibly be any complaints about that?