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Monday, March 19, 2007

3/19/07 - NCAA Tournament Results

So after four days and two rounds of games in the NCAA Tournament we now have 16 "sweet" teams left. Thanks to some very close losses and a miracle comeback by Ohio State, the Big Ten has only one team left playing. But what do all of these results mean? Should we be impressed with the quality of play from Big Ten teams like Michigan State, Purdue and Indiana, who all gave more than a little scare to "Power" #1 and 2 seeds North Carolina, Florida and UCLA? Or as in year's past, does the fact that Ohio State is the lone member of the Sweet 16 show us a continuing decline of quality teams from the Big Ten? What if I told you that neither were true?

I was listening to Billy Packer this morning on the Tony Bruno Show on Sporting News Radio, when he kept referring to the NCAA Tournament as the "ultimate report card of a team's performance." I usually don't need to think very long in order to disagree with Packer, but that quote really struck me as wrong. We (and by "we" I mean talking heads like Packer, ESPN's "experts", sportswriters, and fans) all put way too much stock into a team's performance in the NCAA Tournament. In today's age of college basketball it has never been more true that any team can beat anybody on a given day. All it takes is one game for a team to be uncharacteristically cold or extremely hot to send a high seed packing or a "cinderella" on to the next round. Early exits and deep runs in the tournament should not be weighted so greatly. Would anyone seriously argue that George Mason was one of the best 4 teams in the nation last season? Of course not. The Patriots just got hot at the right time and further proved that even the little guy can play with anybody this day and age.

So many factors determine NCAA Tournament success, it really isn't a level playing field. Nothing is more important than seeding, and your tournament draw. Certain teams get matched up with teams that play a familar style as theirs, while others are forced to go against another team that plays a different tempo. Also, where these games are played has a major effect on the outcomes as well. I bet Michigan State feels they may still be playing if North Carolina had to travel to Detroit to play them instead of the Spartans going to Winston-Salem. And yes UNC was rewarded for their play in the regular season, but do you think Ohio State is going to be very happy if they have meet Texas A&M in the Regional Final in San Antonio?

The "best team" or #1 overall seed very rarely wins the NCAA Tournament. Whether they get knocked out in the Championship game or the 2nd or 3rd round doesn't mean they weren't the best team throughout the season. They got the #1 overall seed for a reason, they deserved it. All it means is that this is college basketball, the most unpredictable of all major sports. There is a reason why we call it "Madness" and this is why we love it so much. This makes the NCAA Tournament the most entertaining sporting event in the world. But as far as Billy Packer's "ultimate report card", I'd rather judge a team on 30+ games rather than 6 or less. Billy can do whatever he wants, but tell him I quit listening.

Comments on "3/19/07 - NCAA Tournament Results"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 19, 2007 at 6:10 PM) : 

Couldn't agree with you more. People just put way too much stake on the NCAA tourny... I also think the Big Ten teams showed more in the tourny than the teams from the ACC - who all had much higher seeds. All those middle of the road BT teams played much better than all those higher seeded ACC teams.


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