Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Retrospective

Alright, let's get back at this.  After a few weeks off, I will start off by putting a bow on the 2011 Men's Basketball Tournament (in a random, haphazard, off-the-top-of-my-head order).  First and foremost...

1)  No matter how badly your bracket got busted, this was a great tournament full of close games with thrilling endings.  It started from the get-go with Matt Howard's putback against Old Dominion and continued throughout the tournament.  Pundits will argue that the quality of basketball is down, but in the end, I am happy with a tournament filled with nail-biters.

2)  Welcome to the new landscape of Men's College Basketball.  With the one-and-done currently ruling the day, mid-majors have the opportunity to make runs.  Butler and VCU make five mid-majors in 6 years (remember, Memphis is a mid-major).  It will not happen every year, but it will be more frequent.  Then again, it did happen 5 times in the 1990's (UNLV twice, Cincinnati from the Great Midwest, UMass and Utah).

3)  I can't wait until next year when someone picks a "first four" team to go to the Final Four and then uses the rationalization that this "always happens".  I don't disagree that the 5 or 6 seed is at a slight disadvantage in the second round game (unless you make them play 36 hours later in a different location), but I think in the end, VCU got a floundering Purdue squad, gained confidence and made a run we won't see for a few years, if not more.

4)  Everyone ragged the Big East for their tournament showing, but with 11 teams and 2 in-conference match-ups, the losses were going to pile-up.  But what about the Big 10 and the Big 12?  The Big 10 went 5-2 in the second round, but its top 3 all lost to teams seeded at least 3 lines worse.  The Big 12 only placed one team in the Sweet 16, and that #1 seed promptly lost to a #11 in the Elite 8.  This was on top of Colorado's initial exclusion.  With Connecticut winning the National Championship, I think the Big 12 gets the award for worst conference showing.

5)  A team that finished in 9th place in their conference won the National Championship.  No conference had ever received more than 8 bids.

6)  There was controversy yesterday because the coach at Northern Arizona did not vote Connecticut #1 in the Coaches Poll.  Wait, why is there a Coaches Poll after the tournament?  That should be the controversy.  It makes sense in football where essentially the bowl equates to one more week of football and everyone plays one game.  Someone explain to me how it makes sense after the Basketball Tournament.

7)  Kemba Walker should come back to school.  If he was NBA ready, he would have taken over the Championship Game.

8)  San Diego State probably deserved a #2 seed, but I don't think these Mountain West schools were quite as good as their gaudy RPI's indicated.

9)  My All-Tournament Team (I haven't seen if there is an actual one) - Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Shelvin Mack, Matt Howard and Jamie Skeen, with Brandin Knight as the 6th Man/Late Game Shooter.

10)  One of these years, I want my Wisconsin Badgers to bow out of the tournament in a game where they play at the level they show during the regular season.  Every year, it ends with me saying, "I know they can play better".

11)  As someone who salivates at trends and statistics, this year's tournament is not going to do much for my data.  By the way, I am looking for volunteers to pick my 8/9 and 7/10 games next year.  As abysmal as my bracket was, I did go 24-0 in games involving a top 6 seed in the first round.  That was the only highlight.

12)  Is it safe to say Butler was the first team to ever defeat two teams from the Colonial Athletic Association in the same NCAA tournament?

13)  No complaints about the 4-Network format here.  I did spend the first 7 hours Thursday in a bar for the first time, which was awesome.  Being able to pick my game to watch the rest of the tournament was great.

14)  Kudos to CBS for bringing back the Luther Vandross version of "One Shining Moment" and recognizing the Jennifer Hudson debacle.

15)  If Harrison Barnes does decide to come back, North Carolina would be my early favorite to cut down the nets in 2012.

On to Baseball....

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