Home » Columns » Currently Reading:

Once again, NCAA Tournament early rounds show how even the teams are

March 25, 2014 Columns No Comments

They say history repeats itself, and few would argue that. As it pertains to college basketball, we’ve seen it with the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament and the teams that have advanced in all rounds. It was the case last year, and now this year as well: we’re seeing that there’s not much difference between many of the teams in the field.

Many were surprised by a lot of the results, and in some cases that’s understandable while in others there wasn’t much to be surprised by. The seeds alone don’t tell the whole story for many of the teams.

Look at some of what happened this weekend:

  • Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and Syracuse are all out.
  • Duke lost to a veteran Mercer team in the second round.
  • VCU lost to Stephen F. Austin.
  • UMass, at one time the top team in RPI, was never really in the game against Tennessee as the Volunteers scored a convincing win.
  • Dayton is in the Sweet 16 with wins over Ohio State and Syracuse.
  • A double-digit seed is guaranteed to be in the Elite Eight since Dayton and Stanford will meet in one regional semifinal.
  • Connecticut beat Villanova, a No. 2 seed.
  • Harvard was a No. 12 and won another second round game, this time beating Cincinnati.
  • Wichita State lost their only game of the season to a Kentucky team that is loaded with talent but has played like a young team all season.
  • North Carolina lost to an under-manned Iowa State team in a dramatic finish.
  • Creighton got manhandled by a Baylor team that had a Creighton-esque shooting night from long range (11-18) on Sunday.
  • The SEC was largely regarded as a weak conference, but ties the Pac-12 and Big Ten with three teams in the Sweet 16.

There are many reasons why so many of these results have happened. There’s the basic reality that anything can happen in one game, as opposed to a series, and a team has to be better than the opponent in just one game. Some of these results are not really upsets; Iowa State over North Carolina is being widely proclaimed as an upset, but isn’t even an upset on the seed line as the Cyclones were a No. 3 seed and the Tar Heels were a No. 6.

In the case of the four powers that were mentioned early, each had plenty of flaws that explain their early exits. Duke was more flawed than many of their recent teams, as they lack a rim protector and also didn’t have an elite point guard. Kansas was without Joel Embiid and was young, and on Sunday they were matched up against a team that did have a rim protector. North Carolina had a good season without their best player, but didn’t have a good frontcourt. Syracuse was not a very good offensive team this season, and their 25-0 start hid that reality as they pulled rabbits out of their hat a number of times late in games.

Looking further, you have teams seeded low because they weren’t healthy at times during the regular season and thus lost a few games a healthy team might not have (such as Michigan State), as well as some like Kentucky who have lots of talent but also showed inexperience at times and lost games because of it. All of this creates matchups that in some cases favor the lower seeds because of how teams are trending come NCAA Tournament time.

Another theory was espoused by Jerry Palm of CBS Sports on a radio show on Sunday night. The regular season is a marathon, while the NCAA Tournament is a sprint. Simply put, some teams are built for a marathon and some are built for a sprint. Teams that fit the latter can surprise some people in the NCAA Tournament, even if they disappoint or underachieve in the regular season.

Underlying all of this is that the college game at all levels has become watered down because of the sheer number of schools. At a deeper level, high-major conferences have become watered down as well because there are more schools that are in the power conferences. There is simply not enough talent to go around, so not only do you see teams being more even from a talent standpoint and experience being a factor perhaps more than before, but you also see conferences like the American Athletic Conference where there is a big drop-off from the top teams to the bottom teams.

At the end of the day, it might just come down to the simplest explanation of all – the first one. A team only has to be one point better than their opponent on that particular day, and all of the teams that won these games were very capable of doing that even if they did have less room for error in trying to pull that off.

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

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 30, 2018

May 30, 2018 by

The NBA Draft and its deadline to withdraw to return to school leads the way in our latest podcast. We also look at one conference’s new scheduling plans, a number of quick hitters, and pay tribute to a fallen conference leader.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 26, 2018

April 27, 2018 by

In our latest podcast, we spend a lot of time looking at what the Commission on College Basketball came up with, as their report was just produced. We also look at the NBA Draft and transfers, which have many rosters potentially in flux for next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 6, 2018

April 6, 2018 by

In our first podcast in the postseason, we look back one more time on the NCAA Tournament, which was just what we needed at this time. We also look at the NIT, CBI and CIT, as well as important transactions with players leaving early for the NBA Draft and coaching changes.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2018

April 3, 2018 by

The 2018 national championship is in the books, and with it another season of college basketball. We break down the national championship game and some of its implications to wrap up the season.

College Basketball Tonight – April 1, 2018

April 2, 2018 by

Welcome to our Final Four edition of College Basketball Tonight. In this edition, we look ahead to Monday’s national championship game, and bring on two guests – long-time Villanova radio play-by-play broadcaster Ryan Fannon and Radford head coach Mike Jones – to get their thoughts and insights on the game.

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.