While men’s college basketball is in a state of parity, in some measures do to the lack of consistent execution of the fundamentals and style of play, credit is to be given to the four teams who have made it to the NCAA “Final Four”. Louisville, Syracuse, Michigan and Wichita State have endured all adversaries, taken on all comers and positioned themselves as one the four best of the rest with the hope of ultimately wearing the crown of the best of the best, NCAA national champions.
March Madness 2013 was everything many college basketball fans wanted, the opportunity to cheer for their team, or the underdog, while trying to predict which powerhouse teams would win games and potentially win it all.
The fact that so many NCAA underdog teams had success in their conference tournaments that paved the way for their NCAA tournament appearance is a testimony to the parity in the men’s college game.
Powerhouse brands like Kansas, Indiana, Duke, North Carolina, Georgetown, Ohio State, Gonzaga and UCLA, were either one game and out or found their early ticket to go home in the proceeding brackets /rounds of NCAA tournament play. During the season, indications of the possibility for these teams to not reach their desired potential and goals was witnessed as many of these teams held the position of the # 1 team in America, (for some of these teams they held the position of # 1 for only a week,) only to lose it to the next contender, pretender.
Butler and VCU made it back to the NCAA tournament again this year, but both teams were unable to crash the party as they did when they had very successful runs the last two years with Butler making it back to back assaults on the Final Four. VCU had a great run last year under Coach Shaka Smart making him and Butler’s Brad Stevens high desirables in the coaching ranks over the last few years.
Marquette and Harvard University had milestone runs in the tournament with Marquette breaking through its Sweet Sixteen barriers. Congratulations to Harvard winning its first game in NCAA tournament play. Miami resurrected its program making a strong run until they were overcome with the injuries and adversities that prevent teams from maximizing their potential of getting to the Final Four or going all the way.
Florida Gulf Coast and La Salle had dancing in their eyes with their Cinderella like victories upsetting higher ranked opponents. Tournament unpredictable activities gave fans underdogs to cheer for while crying over their March Madness bracket selections.
Wichita State had a good regular season but because of the lack of exposure they were not looked at as a team who would do the damage they have done so far, but then again with parity running ramped how could the bracketeers know. Wichita State beat a good Pittsburg team that was able to get an NCAA bid coming out of the last of the Big East as we know it. Pittsburg played a physical style but Wichita State was able to counter. Then it was on to play the Gonzaga Zags whose style was totally different than Pittsburg at every position. The Zags held the title of # one team in the nation for a moment and was a # 1seed in the tournament.
Wichita State went on to avoid the curse of “The Game of a Lifetime” against a Cinderella aggressive LaSalle team out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania only to meet up with a potential Final Four team in Ohio State. It was thought that Ohio State’s inside game and overall talent would be too much for Wichita State, but they were game and avoided any bad breaks that often thwart many teams in NCAA tournament play. The Wichita State Shockers proved their Wild West shoot-out style; rider’m cowboy defense, great guards, good team play with a tough mindset and the ability to back it up! Wow, can they do it two more times?
Wichita State will face another team who has become the aggressor during their run to a championship. Louisville has taken all adversity and turned it into aggression as they executed that aggression on all the opponents they have faced with defensive pressure and offensive execution in attack mode. Louisville will be the odds on favorite in this semi-final game. Wichita State has earned the right to investigate the matter. The games are played to see if prediction outweighs a team’s will to win.
The Michigan Wolverines and Syracuse’s semi-final game could be called the “The Big Wake Up.” Michigan was missing the ingredient of inside play that any team with the potential to win it all must have. Mitch McGary was the man for the inside job. His stepping up during Michigan’s NCAA tournament run has made a big difference. Trey Burke is now at the top of his game and that means Michigan has its big game player who is loaded and ready to deliver with Tim Hardaway, Jr. hanging in the wings. The Wolverines wake up is right on time and has taken Michigan to the next level, a Final Four appearance and maybe more.
Syracuse was essentially underachieving all regular season until their big point guard Michael Carter-Williams started smelling the finish line and began executing the essentials of managing a team on the court. Since the 6’6 point guard Carter-Williams decided to take control of his team, by becoming a major scoring threat and spreading the wealth among his teammates, Syracuse and their 2-3 zone has ignited a strong run in the tournament moving Syracuse into position to believe they can win it all for Coach Jim Boeheim.
The talent has been there all season for Syracuse. Now that talent has put teamwork on offense and defense as their priority. They have lowered their turnovers, eliminated their sometimes lethargic play and lack of respect for caretaking of the basketball. Syracuse now has the ingredients to reign in a NCAA national championship title.
These Final Four teams have overcome different styles of play that they have faced, avoided teams from having “A Game of a Lifetime” at their expense and they have all taken the hit of bad breaks. Now let the true NCAA National Championship team show the ingredients of teamwork, balance, execution of the details, determination and the fire to not be denied. Who will take it? Now is not the time for “Parity”. It is championship time!