By Shawn Muller–
Just because your bracket—and mine—are completely busted, doesn’t mean that this NCAA tournament hasn’t been fun to watch. Let’s face it: it has!
When the tournament began, I was beginning to think that it was going to be a little on the “blah” side. Not to say that there weren’t some decent upsets—and boy, do people love upsets—because there were. I just felt that it lacked “excitement,” for a lack of a better word. I don’t know why I felt like this, but I am definitely glad I decided to stick with it.
With the Final Four set for this Saturday in Houston, Texas, I can say with one-hundred percent confidence, that this has been THE most entertaining tournament I can ever recall.
The overall top-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes? Gone. The Kansas Jayhawks? Gone. How about the Duke Blue Devils? Sorry. Um…the Pitt Panthers? Nope.
If you are a fan of those four schools (and I am just using the number ones as an example), I am sure you don’t think the tournament has been much “fun” to watch…your teams were the “favorites.”
But for the rest of us, every minute has been well worth it.
For just the third time ever—the other years being 1980 and 2008—none of the number one seeds will be playing in the Final Four. Want more? How about the fact the VCU is just the third eleven-seed to reach the Final Four (LSU in 1986), and first since 2006 (does George Mason, also from the CAA, ring a bell?). Or you can look back and see that Butler has the chance to become just the second eight-seed to win a national championship (Villanova was the first to do so, back in 1985). Still not “doing it” for you? Then what about this year being the first time ever, an eleven-seed and an eight-seed have advanced to a Final Four in the same year?
Last year, when Butlers’ Gordon Heyward missed a shot at the buzzer that would have given the Bulldogs the win in the national championship game against the Duke Blue Devils, I remember thinking about how neat it would have been to see them pull it off. I mean, when would we ever get the chance to see a “mid-major” possibly take down a “blue-blood” program for the title again? It’s not like schools, such as Butler University, make it to the Final Four—let alone advance to the title game—with regularity.
Well, apparently, I would only have to wait one more year to see a “mid-major” have another crack at one of the “big boys” for a chance at college basketball immortality.
Every year, when my school gets eliminated (or my bracket is completely shot), I always pull for the little guy. This season, one of these “little guys” is guaranteed a spot in the title game for the second straight season. Whether it is Butler getting a second chance at glory, or VCU continuing it’s magical run (how does that crow taste, Jay Bilas?), maybe this season will be the year where the clichéd “David” takes down the proverbial “Goliath”. In a tournament filled with more upsets than I can ever recall, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see a “mid-major” get over the hump and cut down the nets on Monday night. If it doesn’t happen this year, and either Connecticut or Kentucky end up winning the championship, I guess I will just have to wait until next year for another improbable run by a “mid-major.”
The only thing that will disappoint me about this weekend is that I am sure we will find out that there is some bracket “guru” out there that had Kentucky, Connecticut, Butler, and VCU advancing to the Final Four. Oh that’s right…no one that follows college basketball closely could have envisioned that. I guarantee you that the person with this Final Four in his/her bracket is probably more interested in watching Jersey Shore than college basketball. Instead of looking at the regions and the pairings, this person made their picks using the age-old strategies of…flipping a coin, school colors, and mascot “strength.”
Works every time!
But, I’m not bitter. I just love the madness!
Do you agree with Shawn? Post your comments below.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24.