Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

For Once, College Basketball is Wide Open

April 3, 2011 Columns No Comments

Raise your hand if you figured either Connecticut or Butler would be playing for the national championship before the season began.

 

No hands? No one saw this coming?

 

It’s not that surprising, really. And it fits the way this season has gone and how many saw the season as it evolved, which is something college basketball fans should be happy about. That is especially true for those who are simply fans of the game.

There have been a lot of years where analysts all over say that the NCAA Tournament should be wide open. We’ve said that picking a Final Four would be difficult, and that’s certainly true before we know the NCAA Tournament field because no one knows what the matchups will be. Even when the field is announced, many of us have said it’s hard to predict the Final Four.

 

But even in many of these seasons, there are often just a handful of teams that many feel can win a national championship. Stories are written talking about teams that can win it all, and some mention a number in passing – “there are eight teams that could win it all” and similar quotes can be found often enough. And in the end, amidst all the talk of the gap closing between mid-majors and BCS conference schools and all the parity, invariably we would have familiar faces in the Final Four just about every year. Since 1985, at least one of Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina or UCLA has been in the Final Four.

 

This season, we heard a lot of the same talk. We heard about parity often, as usual, although a better word is “evenness” since there’s not a whole lot of difference. More so than any season I can remember, the seedings in the NCAA Tournament don’t mean a whole lot this year. There wasn’t a dominant team in college basketball, just a lot of good and some very good teams, along with a large number of mediocre teams. Florida State, No. 10 seed, knocked off Notre Dame, a No. 2 seed, in the second round. Frankly, there wasn’t a big difference between the two teams. It’s not as if it was a matchup of an NBA team against a top-tier college team. So none of the results thus far should shock anyone.

 

For once, this season the race for the national championship appeared wide open. Defending champion Duke entered the season as perhaps a prohibitive favorite to win in some eyes, but the Blue Devils were vulnerable often and went out in the regional semifinals. If there was a team that looked like the favorite coming into the NCAA Tournament, it was Ohio State – but the Buckeyes were far from heavy or even prohibitive favorites. And maybe Butler’s run to the national championship game last season had something to do with it, but this time around there wasn’t a lot of talk about how only a handful of teams could win it all.

 

For once, this season the feeling that there wasn’t much difference between a lot of teams is proving to be true. We’ve seen it in all of the results, from upsets based on seeding to close games. We’ve seen it in teams that have advanced far. We’ve seen the city of Richmond, hardly a basketball hotbed, have two teams reach the Sweet 16.

 

Now on Monday night, we have a matchup of Butler and Connecticut. The Bulldogs were in this game last year, but weren’t expected to duplicate this. It was thought to be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, in part because of the loss of Gordon Hayward to the NBA. And at one point, the Bulldogs looked like they might not be an NCAA Tournament team at all. The Huskies, meanwhile, were picked 10th in the Big East preseason poll and finished ninth in the regular season. While Connecticut is a national power and has won two national championships, this didn’t shape up to be one of their best teams.

 

But this season has been one where the action has followed the talk. Two mid-major schools reached the Final Four, and one is in the title game. The two high-major schools who made it weren’t supposed to be here; both were thought to be at least a year away from having a team that could make such a run. But they won their way to Houston.

 

For once, college basketball truly has been wide open. Anyone could win it all this season. The national championship will be won by an unexpected team, a team no one would have picked to be in this game in October or on January 1, and one that few might have picked on March 14. For that, we can and should all be happy.

Comment on this Article:







Reader Poll

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
Start date 04-04-2016 12:26:51
End date 30-04-2016 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Who is the favorite to win the 2017 National Championship?

Advertisement


Your Phil of Hoops

The wait is over for Stony Brook

March 12, 2016 by

stonybrook

Stony Brook is finally going to the NCAA Tournament, and the story of tragic endings – and all that goes with it – is a thing of the past.

Saturday Notes – February 27, 2016

February 28, 2016 by

author_kasiecki

The last Saturday of exclusively regular season play seemed to follow the script of many others. We look at notes from many of the day’s games of consequence.

Saturday Notes – February 20, 2016

February 21, 2016 by

author_kasiecki

On a day with a lot of games that had NCAA Tournament implications, it seemed like more bubble teams lost games they couldn’t afford to than won to advance their candidacy further.

Hoopville Archives

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

2015 Boston Back to School Showcase recap

September 18, 2015 by

hoopguy-cyan

The Boston Back to School Showcase gave high school teams from three states and north of the border a chance for a couple of early games. We take a look back at the day and a few who stood out.

2015 Hoopville Spring Finale Notes

June 30, 2015 by

hoopguy-divisionII

We look back at more from the 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale, where some of the championship games were worth the price of admission.

A big championship day for a local program at the Hoopville Spring Finale

June 23, 2015 by

hoopguy-yellow

The 2015 Hoopville Spring Finale saw a number of good championship games on Sunday to close it out, and we start our look back with a look at those games.

Player highlights from Mass Elite and Boston Warriors college showcase

June 4, 2015 by

hoopguy-cyan

Two big programs, Mass Elite and the Boston Warriors, got together once again on a college showcase for many of their high school players. We look at some who stood out on the evening.

2015 Massachusetts AAU Tournament notes

June 3, 2015 by

author_kasiecki

Massachusetts held its AAU championship rounds in a few age groups and its entire tournament for the oldest age group this weekend. We take a look at some of Sunday’s action in Foxboro.