Monday, March 28, 2011

What's Next For the NCAA?

The NCAA and CBS are in a pickle - a 14 year, $11 billion pickle. The 4 remaining teams in the NCAA tournament this year represent the teeming media markets of Storrs, Connecticut (actually Hartford-Springfield), Lexington, Kentucky (or the whole state of Kentucky), Indianapolis, Indiana, and Richmond, Virginia.

Almost all the basketball royalty, the blue bloods are gone: Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Kansas, Michigan State. The Big Ten, Big 12, Pac Ten, ACC all gone. Athletic powerhouses, Texas, Ohio State are history. The Big east – only 1 of 11 teams. The big states, California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio AWOL. No team west of the Mississippi! Past champions, Georgetown, Ohio State, Villanova, Arizona, UNLV, Louisville, Florida, toppled as easily as pine trees before relentless clear cutters.

Absolutely no respect for the anointed teams.

No number I seeds, no number 2 seeds, only a 3, 4, 8 and a qualifier 11 remain. A George Mason, Gonzaga, or Butler every few years to add a fa├žade of openness, but two in a year are disruptive of the settled order. Whatever happened to San Diego State and Jimmer? At least Boise State isn’t in the NCAA’s.

Everyone’s brackets shattered. Anyone who predicted Butler would play Virginia Commonwealth in the semifinals had to be Shaka Smart.

Kentucky and UConn, especially Kentucky, are traditional basketball powers, but Kentucky hasn’t been back since 1998. It’s been basketball history. Kentucky playing UConn in the semis is a ratings disaster for it means the winner plays an upstart – a team with players who play the whole 4 years – players who play as a team. No one and done for those two teams.

This year’s Final Four is a travesty of all that true basketball fans whole dear.

U.S. News & World Reports had a solution to the disruption in the force field a decade ago. It ranked Cal Tech as the top undergraduate university in the nation. Not only did the magazine change the criteria so that Cal Tech slipped to fifth the next year, but it fired the editor who picked Cal Tech as the best.

Forget the media. If Virginia Commonwealth wins it all, the sports books in Vegas will take a bath. Too many large bets were laid when VCU was a 80-1 underdog. What goes in Vegas does not always stay in Vegas.

Who are the players on these teams? Quick, name the starting lineup for any one of them. Name two starters for each team?

Questions remaining to be answered:

Who said VCU shouldn’t have even been in the tournament?

Will Calipari be three for three with the NCAA after taking UMass and Memphis to the Final Four?

Will Calipari and Calhoun show their mutual disrespect for each other, or share a beer as they laugh about the NCAA?

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