Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

NCAA Tournament is proving how even college basketball is

March 25, 2013 Columns 1 Comment

At any point in the season, if asked who I think would be in the Final Four I had a standard response that at first glance might sound like a cop-out: it’s so wide-open and matchups are so crucial that I can’t answer the question at that time.  In January of most years I couldn’t tell you who I think would get there at least for the latter reason, but especially this season because the former has never been more true.

If the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament doesn’t bear this reality out, I don’t know that anything will.

Just look at the highlights of the rounds that led us up to the Sweet 16:

  • Oregon, an under-seeded No. 12, is in the Sweet 16 after beating No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Saint Louis.
  • No. 12 Ole Miss and No. 13 La Salle played for a Sweet 16 spot, with La Salle – a First Four team – coming out on top.
  • Harvard, a No. 14 seed, beat No. 3 New Mexico.
  • Gonzaga became the first No. 1 seed to fall and the fifth eliminated by a No. 9 seed in the second round as Wichita State took them out.
  • The biggest one of all: Florida Gulf Coast beats Georgetown and San Diego State to become the first No. 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.

All season long, we have seen evidence that there isn’t a dominant team in the country and that college basketball is wide open.  There is a great deal of evenness across the landscape, whether within conferences or even among them.  This is visible from watching individual games, but the results are now bearing this out more than ever.  That’s also why Gonzaga, a controversial No. 1 seed, being the first top seed to go down doesn’t prove they didn’t deserve that seeding.

More than a dozen teams won their conference in the regular season, only to lose during their conference tournament, as one piece of evidence.  Numerous times this season, a team ranked in the top five in one of the polls (for what they are worth) lost to an unranked team.  With the NCAA Tournament, we always expect some early upsets, but they have gone to a new level this year, and this comes a year after two No. 15 seeds knocked off No. 2 seeds, which was a first.

There are many reasons this is happening.  For one, it’s harder than ever to keep the kind of focus required to always win as the more talented team.  Today, kids are bombarded with so many things that weren’t around 15 or 20 years ago.  Another is that injuries are an X-factor, something that has always been true but might be a bigger factor with more schools out there to get the talent that might otherwise stockpile on a team and then get chances when another player goes down.  Players also transfer more than ever, often in search of more playing time or a bigger role.  Now that players know each other longer and better than before from playing each other before college, scouting opponents is different.  Related to that last point, more talented players fall under the radar than ever for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is how many travel teams and events for them to compete in are out there at the high school level.

There are more reasons, but these might stand out as much as any.  There are timeless realities as well: on any given day, anything can happen and as such, anyone can beat anyone else, and some teams match up better or worse with some teams than others.  When you have a matchup of two contrasting teams, there’s a better chance for the less-talented team to win.  The end result that we are seeing is a Sweet 16 that has three double-digit seeds, including the first-ever No. 15 to get there.

College basketball in 2012-13 is much more even than it has been in a long time.  The talent may not be as even, nor the experience, but many equalizing factors – for one game at least – are changing that.  We often hear of “parity”, but that doesn’t really capture this – the teams nowadays are much more even than ever before.  That reality is hitting its nexus in the NCAA Tournament.

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. James Squire says:

    “Even” — yes… IF the power conference schools bring their C game and the mid-majors bring their A game.

    Otherwise, eh – not so much, really. I’m not buying it.

Comment on this Article:

Subscribe to Hoopville

Enter your email address to subscribe to Hoopville


Hoopville Archives

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.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

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

Coaching Changes

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

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Hoopville Podcasts

College Basketball Tonight – March 11, 2018

March 12, 2018 by

College Basketball Tonight returns with a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament bracket, and in the second segment Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jamion Christian joins us.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 8, 2018

March 8, 2018 by

As Championship Week heats up, we talk about bubble teams who may or may not want to earn their way into the NCAA Tournament, as well as a couple of mid-majors whose conference championship game was played earlier in the week.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 22, 2018

February 22, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we start with floor issues in the Big East and an important NCAA ruling that was upheld. Then we go on to the Big 12, where Wednesday night had a new twist, as well as the ACC and how it shapes up along with no team going undefeated in conference play this year.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – February 7, 2018

February 7, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about a big sweep in the SEC, look back on the wild Saturday, then talk about a Big Ten showdown and some undefeated teams in conference play.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.