Jamie Samuelsen: Please. No Cinderellas This Year
I love the NCAA Tournament just like you do.
I love the brackets.
I love the constant games.
I love the buzzer beaters.
I love the emotion.
And I love when my team advances (which technically has never happened. Northwestern remains the only BCS school NEVER to get a bid into the NCAAs. 74 years and counting baby!)
But last year, as the tournament wound down and the Final Four consisted of a three-seed (Kentucky), a four-seed (UConn which had to play its way into the NCAAs in the Big East Tournament), an eight-seed (Butler) and a twelve seed (VCU which didn’t even deserve to make the field-of-68), I realized that I don’t like the one thing that some people hold dearest to the tourney.
I don’t like upsets.
Don’t get me wrong. I always pick the requisite 12-over-5. I would have loved to have seen Butler slay Duke in the title game in 2010. And I like watching the highlights of NC State beating Houston or Villanova shocking Georgetown. I would’ve rooted for David over Goliath.
But here’s what I like more – great basketball games. And the ugly little secret about the upset in the NCAA Tournament is that it leads to lousy match-ups in the next rounds. When I look at the brackets this year I see the potential for Michigan State taking on Missouri in the Elite Eight. How about a Kentucky-Duke matchup for a trip to New Orleans? What if all the one seeds (MSU, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse) make it to the Final Four and we get the best going at it for the title?
It’s funny. College football fans all complain because the BCS doesn’t crown a true champion and some of the best teams (sometimes unbeaten teams) are left on the outside looking in. But college basketball fans seem to love watching the giants fall. They love the chaos. They want the four best teams in a playoff in January. But they seem to want four random teams heading to the Final Four in April.
Not me. I love the unpredictable nature of sports. That’s why we all watch – because we just don’t know how it’s going to end. But I also love watching the best play the best. I like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickleson in the final pairing at Augusta. I have no issue with the Lakers and the Celtics playing for the NBA title every year. Upsets are fun. Superpowers are more fun. So while you’re all jumping out of your chairs at the bars and restaurants when Wichita State or Belmont goes on a run – I’ll be quietly hoping for chalk. I want a Final Four that’s made up of a bunch of who’s-whos. Not one that’s made up of a bunch of who’s-that’s.