Final Four Set.




So, if I am reading this right, and I’d like to think that I am, VCU and Butler are in the Final Four.  Not only that, but they aren’t joined by number one seeds or pre-tournament favorites.  Kentucky and Connecticut were hot coming into the tournament, but were hardly chalk.  In fact, in UConn’s case, their success in the Big East Tournament was considered by some a detriment to their overall chances.  Now, they’ve won 9 games in a row, multiple in thrilling fashion and find themselves in what many would consider the de facto championship game against Kentucky.

A couple of weeks ago before this tournament started I said I was looking for something aside from the usual chalk.  I then went ahead and picked chalk in my pools, but that isn’t the point.  The qualifier I made, though, was that I wanted to see one of these teams take it all the way out.  Claim the prize, and not just make a Final Four run.  A quick aside, is there any other sporting event where making the semi-finals is considered such a feat?  Is it because Final Four is such a snappy name?  If  we could say that Andy Reid has been to five Final Fours would that make you more comfortable with him as the Eagles coach?  Do we think some of these college coaches that have been to Final Fours are getting too much credit?  Or is it the nature of the single elimination format?

Anyway, back to the underdogs.  These two Final Four teams, VCU and Butler, certainly qualify as long shots.  Butler is making a return appearance to the Final Four where they were considered a bit of an interloper last season.  This year, after losing their best player to the NBA and ballooning to an eight seed they are back.  VCU is in even more foreign territory.  I don’t remember a team ever getting as much junk piled on it for making the field than VCU did on Selection Sunday.  Their entrance into the field was treated as a crime against humanity and teams like Colorado were left on the outside looking in at undeserving and pathetic VCU.  Well, VCU won a “First Four” game.  Then they started beating everyone.  The culminating win over Kansas Sunday has to be one of the bigger upsets in tournament history.

It is a shame that they’ll play Butler in the semi-finals.  It guarantees that one of these teams will play for the championship, but Final Four Saturday might have been more interesting if we had two underdogs taking on tournament powerhouses.  I’m not sure which team has captured America’s imagination more at this point…VCU or Butler?  Butler has the familiarity, but VCU is out of nowhere and they’ve had the more impressive and improbable run. Personally, I think I have to roll with VCU.  Butler had their shine last year.  The question is, is Connecticut or Kentucky beatable in the Final?  I think they are.

Something else about how this tournament played out was brought up to me by Big Dub yesterday.  He mentioned that some people could use this NCAA free for all that we’ve seen over the past two weeks to argue that the BCS is a good enough system for college football.  The point being, honestly, who really wants to see this Butler/VCU semi-final? There’s no way it can be good for ratings.  And, while you have a natural underdog story line set up for the final, would the public in general, the TV people and everyone else have been more satisfied with a Kansas/Ohio State final?  Or Duke/Anyone?  I have to say that the tournament seems to be getting more wide open in recent years.  If VCU or Butler wins this thing it will feel a bit like a lottery, and no one will be able to argue that they are the best team in the tournament, but this is what has been happening in tournament formats forever.  College basketball just always had a pronounced gap between the top-10 teams and everyone else and now that is not the case.

3-Putt Territory Pool Update:

Needless to say, this wasn’t a real glamorous year for picking the games.  Over half of our pool field does not have a single Final Four team left.  That feels unprecedented.  That said, Gus Johnson had put together a great run to the Final 8 and built enough of a lead that he still has a chance to win even though he pegged Kansas like everyone else.  By the way, this is the 2nd straight year that Kansas has burned a ton of people.  When will we learn?  Giving Gus Johnson a run for his money is Rand, who has been lying the weeds the whole time, but proudly still has those Kentucky Wildcats left in his bracket.   It’s Kentucky vs. the Field for the 3-Putt trophy.  Buckle Up.


13 thoughts on “Final Four Set.

  1. Interesting about the college football concerns. I don’t think it’s the same, since if you did it based on a top 6-8 make the “playoffs” that are the bowls, you’d probably only have one outlier. So you’d need a team like Boise to win 3 straight games probably to win the title, which at that point they deserve it if they can topple 3 traditional powerhouses. Can anyone complain if they beat OSU, Alabama and then say Florida?

  2. I think it’s likely that VCU will be used as an example of why we “need” a 96 team tournament. What if they had been left out of the tournament? Oh, the unfairness of it all.

  3. The whole point of the NCAA tourney is that it is decided on the court- the BCS is a joke. I’m not ecstatic that VCU is still hanging around, but they are still playing. They also have been dismantling people. Butler beat the 1 seed, the 2 seed and the 4 seed to get to the final 4. If Kansas made it most people would have been talking about how they got there without having to beat anyone lower than an 8 seed…people want to have it both ways, but you can’t. Either you have a tourney where the possibility exists for complete chaos, or you have a determined champ game that pits 2 teams who look like the best even though they haven’t necessarily played their way to the title game. The games over the past 3 weeks have been amazing, and I don’t know how a fan of college football could argue for the BCS after this run…

  4. He signed something like a 10 yr contract last year- if you hear him talk he loves butler and doesn’t seem motivated to leave

  5. Lot of good points…

    everything I’ve heard about the Butler coach makes me think he’ll stay too.

    He seems like someone who doesn’t need to be at a huge program, of course, you could say that for anyone and then they get offered 3 million a year.

    I think some guys are more cut out to stay small, like Mark Few. I don’t think he would have been great at a big school. You have to know what is best for you. He’s certainly making plenty at Butler. I guess it just depends on what his aspirations are.

    Also, i fear the tournament expansion as well. This is the best possible argument for the expanded field.

  6. I think if they expand the field you might see few conference tournaments, if any. Looking at the Big East, why even hold the tournament anymore? You’re exhausting your teams, and chances are at 96 teams they’ll take the whole conference (hyperbole). Other than pride, it will only be a detriment i assume.

  7. kansas has now screwed me 3 straight years…winning the first and losing the last 2.

    i wanted to pick uconn to win but didn’t have the guts to do it.

    i’ll be rooting for vcu, things will get pretty nuts here in richmond.

    i saw them play once this year (the only college bball game i saw in person or tv prior to the tournament…total luck on my picks), and have to say i’m as surprised as anyone that they made it this far. skeen looked pretty beastly, but rodriguez was out of control and terrible. didn’t think they would get far with him running the show, but he has managed to keep his periods of sprinting around jacking up shots to a minimum.

  8. Is VCU’s coach the most gully coach in the NCAA tournament? Youtube some of his pregame/postgame speeches, yowza. “Division 1 Basketball Coach” would be about 156 on my list if someone asked me what I thought this guy’s occupation was.

  9. I’ve never heard him talk, but according to the internet he turned down playing at Harvard and was an Academic All American at Liberal Arts bastion Kenyon College

  10. He looks like he decided that public accounting was no longer his thing and decided to try coaching basketball. I like him. He always seems calm and has this odd sense of control.

  11. yeah, BK, can you clarify?

    I don’t really know what “gully” means. I was thinking like ghetto swagger?

    But, i’m not seeing anything out of the ordinary in the vids I saw.

    can i get a link?

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