When Underdogs Rule We're Left With March ... Badness

Categories: March Madness

Final Four 2011.jpg
I picked exactly one team of March Madness' Elite Eight and I long ago lost all of my Final Four (Pittsburgh, Louisville, San Diego State and Washington). But after a weekend of shocking upsets don't tell me your bracket isn't likewise busted.

CBS cherishes a Cinderella and Americans love the underdog, but consider me underwhelmed by this year's NCAA Final Four. Kentucky? Sure. Connecticut? I can see that. Butler? Again? Virginia Commonwealth? What the what?!

Maybe you think parity is good for sports and for college basketball, but I miss the days when there were defined, definite best teams, not just a good team who happens to win a tournament. You could replay this tournament in April and get a totally different Final Four. For me and guys named Barack Obama (who picked all four No. 1 seeds through to Reliant Stadium) it's temporarily entertaining yet wholly disturbing.

Butler and VCU are not -- I repeat, are not -- among the four best teams in college basketball.

But they're playing each other Saturday in Houston. It's a record underdog circle jerk with their seeds -- 11 and 8 -- combining for 19, by far the highest number in Final Four history.

Kentucky-UConn might be a classic. Future NBA stars and Hall of Fame coaches on both sides. But Butler-VCU. I wouldn't watch if they played in January and I'm not sure I'll watch Saturday.

Why? To me it's like the Jacksonville Jaguars playing the Detroit Lions in the Super Bowl. The Clippers and Wizards facing off in the NBA Finals. Or the Rangers actually playing in a World Series. Wait...

I miss watching the dynasties. When a championship was a coronation of a truly great team. Not just an exclamation point after an exciting but inconsequential hiccup of an aberration.

Butler is gutsy and VCU coach Shaka Smart is charismatic. But I don't think parity is good for sports. And I know it's not for March Madness.

And, no, I'm not a Kansas fan.


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27 comments
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kergo
kergo

RW, you ARE an underdog....the Ticket is the dynasty, git it? I don't mean to be mean buddy, but, you of all people should understand. Look, I know you hate me cuse' I "mess up" the blog, but buddy, underdogs is underdogs!

Kergie out?

cactusflinthead
cactusflinthead

Could not disagree more. I like parity. I like the fact that the VCUs and Butlers of this world have a chance, unlike football which is decided in part by algorithms based on God knows what. My only regret of this March is that they have to play each other and not take out the last remaining big boys. Schools of this level will never ever get the chance to play for the football championship. And it is sweet to see Rock Chalk Jayhawk get embarrassed. And Georgetown and Duke and all the rest that have fallen by the wayside. The sheer chaos of everybody's busted bracket and the talking heads exploding in confusion is wonderful. I am far more interested in a Butler/Kentucky match up than another round of Conn and Duke with yet more fawning over Coach K. Yeah, he's awesome, heard it about a thousand times already. If the littlest of Horned Frogs can vie for the National Championship why not Butler?

MikeInEuless
MikeInEuless

You make it sound like every year the tournament comes down to a seven-seed playing an eleven for the championship. In the previous ten tournaments, out of the forty Final Four teams 17 have been one-seeds, 10 twos, 6 threes, 2 fours, 4 fives (including Butler last year), and an eleven. Out of the last ten champions, 7 have been a one-seed with a two and two threes mixing it up a little.

I don't know what constitutes a dynasty, exactly, but Florida won back-to-back titles recently, and both Duke and North Carolina - traditional powers, at least, if not dynasties - have won two title within the past ten championships. It's not like every year it's Butler or Bradley or George Mason or Marquette... And for all the weirdness of this Final Four, if Connecticut or Kentucky wind up winning, isn't that a reassertion of the natural order?

Finally,you can bitch about Butler-VCU but what's your idea to avoid this scenario? Cut the tournament back to 16 teams or 24? Go to a double-elimination bracket, which I think would benefit the stronger teams? Unbalance the brackets so that the top two teams in each region get automatic byes into the Sweet Sixteen and the other 14 teams play the first weekend for the other two spots in each region? Have lower-seeded teams have to play with one arm tied behind their back to reduce the chances of an upset?

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

RW couldn't begin to elaborate on that..now Merton, on the otherhand..I'd like to hear a thought from.

Judge_Softy
Judge_Softy

Goo idea - going double elimination once teams reach the Elite Eight might be the way to go - kind of a College World Series-type of setup.

Judge_Softy
Judge_Softy

GOOD idea, I meant...effing wireless keyboard!

Judge_Softy
Judge_Softy

That "March Badness" pun never gets old.

Rob_Em
Rob_Em

Good writing today, Richie. I really mean that.

Looks like I'm in the minority, but I enjoy dynasties as well.I like upsets within the tournaments, and I like to see overachievers get a little more down the road than we expected. But at the end of the day, I like to see UNC, Kansas, UCLA, Duke...the Yankees, the Cowboys, the Lakers, et. al.

Otherwise, it'd be like waking up one morning and seeing the Fan beating the Ticket in the ratings. Aw, damn, see what I did there? Ruined it.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Yep, RW stepped his game up today. He has set the bar high for the rest of the week(Friday is a give up so he has 3 days left).Nice jab at the end there. What will happen first, a #16 seed beating a #1 seed or the Fan beating the Ticket?

Rob_Em
Rob_Em

@TRDP1 - Something has gone seriously wrong if either of those things happens. Though I must admit, I wouldn't mind seeing The Fan be much more competitive with ESPN.

@ScottsMerkin - I had never even heard of Bucknell until they played Kansas in the tournament. The Jayhawks have arguably the greatest college basketball program ever, but they do seem to have some bizarre losses. Oral Roberts? At least, that wasn't a tournament game.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

yep,Bucknell, Bradley, N Iowa and now VCU in the oughts, it all started with Rhode Island in 1998, we have had a real bad run of luck. I enjoy the national champioship from 08, and its not like duke and UNC dont lose in the tourney, thye just happen to not lose to no-name schools from small conferences

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Im afraid that someday a 16 will beat a 1 and itll probably be my jayhawks that lose. In Fact look for the tourney committee to purposely put a better team as a 16 just to see it happen.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

The Horns will be the first #1 to choke like that..but rockchalk could be second. Nevermind, we choke a month before the tourney starts.

Nachoman
Nachoman

This is exactly why I hate Ritchie

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Ah yes, this is AWESOME. I get tired of the usual suspects, and I get SO tired of all the Kansas fans here. They are the basketball equivalent of OU football fan. I think my biggest issue with the tournament is we'll never know how good some teams can be. With the great players leaving after a year, we're going to get this every year. The teams that stay together will shine through year after year.And on a side note, Butler is the TCU of college basketball, with the exception that they can actually play for a championship.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I take serious offense to your statement. I love KU basketball and defend them all the time but I dont go around like UT or OU fans bagging on yall when you lose like a bunch of fags did yesterday to me. Its why i despise UT fans mostly when Im at a bar watching game. It wholly unpleasant and rather rude considering mrs merkin is usually with me. Look I dont mind haters, its cool, I expect it bc you get haters when your always good, Ut and OU know that in football. But the extent of shit I get about bball is ridiculous. Lets see the football championship decided 64 teams in a bracket anbd I bet every year you get upsets of top teams. To end this, Yes, KU lost the game, but you cant tell me that if they play that game 10 more times ku would win 9, but thats what makes the tourney fun. Whats not fun is it being my team that lost and having too many cinderellas get through. Sweet 16 cinderellas are nice but would anyone care if it was a 10 v 10 seed in the final. NOPE, as richie said, it's be the equivalent of a Rangers Ginats series to the rest of the country.

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

Now you know the ire that OU and UT fan feel when their team gets beat when they shouldn't. Great way to sum up your emotions. I'm a UT fan, trust me, I've taken more shit in the past 15 years, even with winning a championship, than you have as a Kansas fan. I've come to expect it when my team loses that I'm going to hear it from someone. On the other side of it, I don't undersand the people that go out of their way to be douchebags about it. Cheer your team on, don't get in someone's face when their team gets stomped, no matter how much it makes you feel good. I can't say I've ever done that to someone, but it's been done to me MANY times, so I feel for you there SM.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

I have two favorite teams: #1 Horns..#2 Whomever is playing Zerou...(only in football though, cause everything elseIs SG)

Mishon
Mishon

RW, I couldn't disagree with you more if I tried. Scruffy pretty much hit the nail on the head, so there is not a whole lot I can add to it. But I don't think there is anything in sports I like more than parity. I love watching teams in championship games that are not normally there. I will be watching the Butler/VCU game Saturday...If it was Kansas/UCLA instead? Yeah, not so much. How boring sports would be if the same teams won everything every year.

The only dynasties I ever would enjoy watching is if it involved the Cowboys, Rangers, or Mavs...for selfish reasons.

McDoom
McDoom

Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth. You can't trash the BCS and then complain about the hoops tournament results.

ParleyPPratt
ParleyPPratt

(Of course, Richie blows his own argument by having taken SDSU in the Final Four. Coward. Why didn't you just pick Duke?)

ParleyPPratt
ParleyPPratt

Richie, it's because you're a writer and not a real fan. Dynasties are for great for people who don't really care about the game.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Hey buddy, RW isn't exactly a Pulitzer prize winner..or a Marconi nominee as far as that goes..keep Effing that chicken RW!

cynical old bastard
cynical old bastard

Fine Richie, do away with the playoff system. Let's just install a BCS basketball championship. And if VCU and Butler aren't among the best teams how come the higher seeds didn't beat them?

jamal
jamal

exactly. let's vote for a champion. fuck all this "settling it on the court" bs.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Stick to the women's tourney for the same damn teams every year and tell me that doesn't get old. UConn, Tennessee, Stanford every year with a second tier of Baylor and other random teams. Yawn.

We're not talking about SMU making the Final Four here, any team decent enough to earn a tourney pick can't be terrible--that's why there's about 48 other tournaments to take the teams left behind. Just because Kansas feels entitled to a Final Four appearance doesn't mean VCU knocking them off isn't cool. It's more like Green Bay barely squeaking into the NFL playoffs then winning it all, it's not like Carolina got a spot because everyone does and got hot at the right time and won the Super Bowl.

As overrated and overhyped as I personally feel the tournament is, I want to watch the VCU/Butler game because it's so wheels-off that they would meet at this point with a slot in the championship on the line. Now that's sportsy, my friends.

Davy Crockett
Davy Crockett

I wouldn't watch the tournament if only the "best" teams won. That's boring as shit. Plus, Butler has to be doing something right..they lose their best player after pushing Duke to the limit last year and they get back to the Final 4. Good for them.

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