Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Parity, Lack Of Dominance Lower Seeds Going Home

NCAA Brackets

Regardless of the argument parity, dominance, luck, pairings, seedings or officiating, this year's NCAA Basketball Tournament has witnessed the elimination of several Lower Seeds early and recently, with only one #1 seed, Duke,  remaining potentially for the Final Four.  Michigan State is the only team still in the dance from last year's final four, while storied programs like defending national champion North Carolina are in the NIT this year, with UConn, UCLA, Memphis, Illinois, Cincinnati and NC State.

This year in round one, #14 Ohio U wins over #3 Georgetown, #13 Murray State beats #4 Vanderbilt, #11 Washington beats #6 Marquette, then three # 10's Missouri, St. Mary's and Georgia Tech notch wins against #7's Clemson, Richmond and Oklahoma State, respectively.  So if those upsets weren't enough to convince you of a national change, then Round Two offered #9 Northern Iowa over Championship favorite, #1 Kansas, #12 St. Mary's upsets #2 Villanova and #12 Cornell over #4 Wisconsin.

Opponents to the belief in parity in college basketball strongly recommended that the Cinderella show is over and the "Sweet Sixteen" would separate the strong teams from those good to average teams surviving on the heels of bad one-game play by the beaten lower seeds.   #12 Cornell was no match for #1 Kentucky, with it's young NBA talented roster and #12 St. Mary's caught #3 Baylor bringing their "A" and lost while #11 Washington was not physical enough for #2 West Virginia, but #5 Butler was up to the task in upsetting #1 Syracuse, #6 Tennessee took out #2 Ohio State.  As the "Elite Eight" was paired, #2 Kansas State could not hold off #5 Butler, as Butler wins and returns home as the first designated Final Four participant.  #2 West Virginia confirmed the lack of dominance by any team with a solid win against #1 Kentucky for the second spot in the Final Four.

If seedings are a description of the best teams for the current season, the first 4 seedings should represent the top 16 teams in the field of 64 (65 with the play-in game).  Therefore it would stand to reason that any wins by teams seeded below # 4 could be considered an upset or at least a win by a less favored opponent. Currently with one game remaining in the "Elite Eight," #1 Duke against #3 Baylor, the "Sweet Sixteen" began with 8 teams seeded in the top four spots, with tow #5's and #2 already in the Final Four, with a #1 or #3 pending the results of the Duke/Baylor matchup.  The combination of this year's victories, with the number of Marquee programs in the NIT, college basketball has developed a product that offers competitive games by a volume of teams from around the country, making college basketball possibly one of the most exciting games in competitive athletics currently.  As far as parity or lack of dominance, no more than two top ten teams from the final regular season rankings will play in the final four, should Duke win later this afternoon. 

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