It’s getting to be a little mid-major mania when it comes to March Madness anymore. For the second year in a row, the non-power conference lot has been bestowed 11 of the available 37 at-large berths for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
The Mountain West and Atlantic Ten head that list, grabbing four apiece. The bigger deal, really, is seeing the West Coast (Saint Mary’s), Sun Belt (Middle Tennessee State) and Missouri Valley (Wichita State) conferences squeeze an extra place beyond their automatic qualifiers.
Before going crazy about the tables turning, though, keep in mind that cycles happen and, frankly, are pretty common in sports. Just this millennium, in fact, we’ve seen a mid-major rising greater than this current “experience.” In 2003 and ’04, 22 of a total of 68 slots went to the non-power schools, including 12 of 34 that second year – which stands as the height of mid-major acceptance thus far.
March Madness is the best sporting event in America. While many sport fans may not agree with my opinion, I maintain—not Super bowl weekend, NBA All-Star weekend, nor the pageantry of the Kentucky Derby can be compared to March Madness.
The gruesome three-week long, “win-or-go-home tourney” is in full effect.
March Madness is the greatest spectacle in sports because the players are fully-vested; they don’t play with egos, contracts, or shoe deals but for the pure love of the game of basketball and the school logos on their jerseys.
For all the spontaneity and drama of the Tournament, the player’s emotions are raw, uncut, and authentic. For most student-athletes who get to players play in the Tournament, this is the biggest stage of their lives. Ninety percent of these players will not be turning pro, so they have to make the best of this opportunity. When players yell, hug, and cry fans know it’s not pretentious but genuine.
This year the NCAA Tournament has been extended to 68 teams. The Tournament officially kicks off on Tuesday March 19, 2013.
Call it a pre-emptive strike. Call it craziness. Call it whatever you like.
It doesn’t really matter, because here it comes regardless – an alternative take to what is sure to be conventional-wisdom seeding on Selection Sunday.
Specifically, the focus here will be on the No. 1s that will be announced for this season’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.
All of us know what they’ll be before a single tip-off takes place in the ACC, A-10, Big Ten and SEC postseason finales. We’re looking at top-ranked Gonzaga, Duke, Indiana and Louisville. Bank on it.
No argument here on the first and last ones noted above. But the middle two – sorry, no way do either deserve such billing on the March Madness stage. If this is truly about “rewarding” the teams who proved themselves to be worthy of such distinction throughout the 2012-13 campaign, no way are Indiana and Duke No. 1s.
NCAA Men’s College Basketball News: The PAC-12 Tournament In Las Vegas Provides A New Venue And A Practice Run For A Team Who Has Its Eye On An NCAA Championship Title Run:
March 13th, 2013, is the opening day of the 2nd Annual PAC 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament under the new PAC-12 brand name. In recent years the previous PAC-10 and now PAC-12 Tournament was held at the Staple Center in Los Angeles, California. The Staple Center is a great facility but maybe not the best venue when trying to lore travelers from vast regions of the West, like Arizona, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. Even the Los Angeles crowd has grown stale but when you throw Las Vegas into the mix fan interest may be stirred up. Some people make up excuses for why they have to go to Las Vegas. Businesses and conventioneers always have Las Vegas at or near the top of their list of locations to hold conventions, business meetings, etc. . . , especially when there are participants are coming diverse locations.
Stacked up against the other big-boy leagues of college basketball, it always was going to be viewed as the little brother, the new kid on the block, the intruder on a set stage.
Forever the neophyte due to its youth compared to the likes of the Big Ten, the Pacific 12, the SEC and the ACC, the Big East seemed to be in a constant state of having to prove itself – to those other circuits, to fans, to media, maybe even to itself.
The question is an interesting one to ponder, given the fact the circuit, already a reconfigured amalgamation many times over, really, truly is seeing its end unfold this week. Yeah, the Catholic 7 will bolt the conference and take the name with it, but the spirit of the circuit departed long ago.
There is no denying that the Big East was every bit the equal, if not the superior, of every one of those aforementioned leagues at certain points since its inception 34 years ago. However, part of its charm, its intrigue, its attraction was the almost parochial attitude it had about its entity and the way it viewed those outside of it.