After the first weekend of the 2007 NCAA Tournament was over many fans were upset. There were very few upsets in the early rounds this year and apparently that’s what everybody lives for. Everybody wants to see the cliché Cinderella story, everyone wanted to see the big upsets and bracket busters and everybody wanted to see the teams they hate the most go down hard. As a big College Basketball myself I think this NCAA Tournament has actually been great this season.
Yeah so there weren’t a lot of Cinderella stories or big upsets or people at work suddenly exploding because their Final Four pick was already out of the tournament but there is still a lot to be happy about.
If you’re looking for upsets and for teams you hate to get eliminated then there were a couple of good games for you, even if there wasn’t as many as usual. I think it’s pretty safe to say that everybody in the country, besides the two teams’ fans, were glad to see Notre Dame get upset by Winthrop and Duke get upset by Virginia Commonwealth.
The upsets might not have happened but there were certainly a lot of scares. Kansas just barely got by Southern Illinois, Ohio State barely escaped their cross town rival Xavier and Georgetown needed a missed called to get past Vanderbilt. There were plenty of closely contest games to enjoy and while a lot of people wanted to see an upset it’s a good thing the top teams won.
The reason the smaller programs usually win is because the Mid Major Conferences have more experiences players because most of them aren’t leaving for the NBA. Meanwhile the major conferences are losing players early so they come into the tournament very inexperienced. This year the top programs are surviving the close games because there are more players who stayed in school. This crop of players in the NCAA Tournament is the best in years. In what other year do you get to see a cast of Greg Oden, Michael Conely Jr., Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green, Kevin Durant, Alando Tucker, Acie Law, Tyler Hansborough, Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Arron Afflalo and the list goes on and on. It’s a great thing for NCAA Basketball to have so many good players. How many of those players will be playing next year? Who knows? So we should’ve enjoyed it while we could.
Better teams moving on also means much better games. Last year George Mason went to the Final Four and that was a great story, but when they got there they were extremely overmatched and got stomped by the Florida Gators. It made for one of the most uninteresting Final Four games I’ve ever seen. I was bored about five minutes into the game.
This year though, the higher seeds continued to advance and it made for some great matchups. In previous seasons either Texas A&M or Memphis would’ve probably been upset in the first or second round. This season we got to see a great one point game between a 2 seed and a 3 seed. In past seasons Ohio State or Tennessee probably wouldn’t have made the Sweet Sixteen and we wouldn’t have got to see the dramatic come from behind victory by Ohio State.
I love that the Elite Eight was almost all the top seeds. Can you remember a year when the Elite Eight games produced better or more intriguing games than Florida vs. Oregon, Kansas vs. UCLA, North Carolina vs. Georgetown and Ohio State vs. Memphis. In the first game you got the team who won the National Championship last season against a team that last won the National Championship in the inaugural season of the NCAA Tournament. In the second match up you have two legendary programs facing off. In the third game you have a rematch of the 1982 classic, and even had the sons of George Thompson and Patrick Ewing on Georgetown’s side. In the fourth game you had the biggest and most talked about player in the NCAA against the team with the longest winning streak.
I can also never remember a season where the Final Four matchups looked so good. In one corner you have Florida and UCLA, a rematch of last year’s National Championship game. In the other corner you have Ohio State vs. Georgetown, is there any big man match up more interesting than 7’0″ Greg Oden vs. 7’2″ Roy Hibbert?
If upsets and Cinderellas are your thing, don’t be worried. Many of this year’s stars will probably leave early this year and next year we’ll be back to where we were last year where the George Masons of the world can take advantage of inexperienced Major programs. Until then don’t rain on the NCAA Tournament’s parade this year just because for once they actually had great players, great teams, intriguing matchups and very competitive games, unlike many other years.