March Madness: Great, but not its Best
Originally Aired: Monday, March 28, 2011. This is a part of the 93-Second Sports Shot series. 93-Second Sports Shots air weekday evenings at 6pm.
I’d like to take some time to congratulate UConn, Kentucky, Butler, and VCU on making the Final Four. Over the past week, millions of people’s brackets have been battered and busted, including President Obama, who had none of the Final Four teams in his bracket. According to ESPN.com, 5.9 million people filled out their brackets on ESPN’s website. Out of all those people, only 2 (let me repeat) 2 people correctly predicted the Final Four. Simply amazing. Who would have thought the VCU, an eleven seed, would beat so many great teams this year, including Georgetown, Purdue, and most astonishingly, Kansas? Let me tell you I did not predict that. Actually only .1% of the brackets filled out on ESPN.com even predicted VCU making the Final Four. Simply put, only 5,791 people out of 5.9 million picked VCU to make it this far.
Even though VCU and Butler have provided the public with thrilling upsets this year, their run only suggests the lack of “THE” team to beat this year. I mean like Illinois in 2005. That Fighting Illini team was “THE” team to beat that year. Their only loss that year was to Ohio State in the last game of the regular season. But they were so good they still retained the number one ranking the very next week. They went on to win the Big Ten Championship and the overall number one seed in the tournament. Four out of their five wins in that tournament were blowouts, including a fifteen-point victory against Louisville in the Final Four. Their only close game came against Arizona in the Elite Eight, where the Illini squeaked out a 90-89 win in overtime. Then it was them against North Carolina in the finals, where North Carolina beat the Illini 75-70. Despite a second-place finish in 2005, it’s indisputable that Illinois was “THE” team to beat that year.
Fast-forward to this year, when there were three different number one teams in a stretch of 3 weeks. In addition, the big stars this year in college basketball were Jimmer Fredette and Kemba Walker. Even though Fredette and Walker are both great players, they are nowhere close to the star that Carmelo Anthony was at Syracuse or Derrick Rose was at Memphis. Speaking of Rose, imagine: had they not decided to enter the NBA after their freshmen year, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love would be in their senior years, at Memphis and at UCLA respectively. Picture what this year’s tournament would have been like, had those to decided to stay in school. I would have loved to see Memphis against UCLA in the Final Four, but I suppose Matt Howard versus Joey Rodriguez is a good substitute.