Monday, March 28, 2011

The Day NCAA Basketball Changed Forever

Now that brackets from coast to coast have been slaughtered, I thought I would weigh in on one of the biggest moments in NCAA history.

On one half of the Final Four Bracket, you've got two NCAA juggernaut programs, Kentucky and UConn. Coached by legends, John Calipari and Jim Calhoun. These are guys who get recruits. They don't even have to try that hard. They come here because this program puts you on the map. They show a fist full of Conference Championship and NCAA Championship rings and say, This is why you come to our program. And now in the era of the 'One and Done' NBA bound college players who have to spend one year after high school in college before they are allowed to enter the draft, places like Kentucky are Meccas for NBA prospects. In the past, if you were a top 50 high school basketball player, you went to powerhouse teams in powerhouse conferences. You went to Duke because its Coach K and its Duke. UNC with Roy Williams. OSU with Thad Matta. Kansas with Bill Self.

But I think the tides are changing.

On the other half of the bracket are two semi-cinderellas. 8 seed Butler, with their 14 year old coach Brad Stevens has made their second straight improbable run to the Final Four and has put a no name team from a no name conference in the center spotlight. Yes, they had Gordon Heyward leave early for the NBA...but that is an abberation. Butler is a 4 year school. You go there because you couldn't get into the Powerhouse Conferences. You go there to play basketball, but also to get a degree, because chances are, you're going to need it when you graduate. They play 11 seed Virginia Commonwealth, one of the most debated teams to get into the tournament, who started their improbable run on Wednesday rather than Thursday or Friday. They are coached by Brad Stevens middle school class mate, Shaka Smart. They are winning games they have no business winning and they are winning them convincingly.

David vs. David on one side. Goliath vs. Goliath on the other. And teams that have Superstars for one year are playing against teams with winsome young coaches that get more than they should out of their players and they get them for 4 years.

All 4 One Seeds have disappeared. All 4 Two Seeds have disappeared. And it seems that locking in One and Done players may not be the most effective way to win championships. All it would take is for Goliath to pull off the unthinkable next week, and the balance of power in NCAA basketball will change for good.

1 comment:

Melissa Spitzig said...

Very Well stated, Ben.