The Little Guys Are Alive And Kicking

After two rounds of dancing, what does your bracket look like? Did one of those little guys shatter one or more of your regions? Did they make child’s play of your entire field, leaving marks and scribbles all over the name of a team you projected to win it all? Did they make your viewable bracket about as colorful as your words describing Connecticut, Duke, and Georgetown’s tournament failures?
I certainly didn’t pick Davidson or Western Kentucky to be dancing in the sweet 16. I had my suspicions about San Diego possibly making some noise, but bigger names denied my gut feeling, and I penciled in Connecticut on the line. I should have known better, but like everyone else, I got caught up in Major conference hype.
Davidson walked into the tournament with the nation’s longest winning streak. And after 2 rounds, they’ve stretched that number to 24. Why do we doubt them? Is it because they lack the media attention and we judge them by conference? In November, North Carolina edged them by 4. In December, Duke escaped by 6, and UCLA also failed to find a double digit victory over these same Wildcats. After a 3 point late December loss to NC State, Davidson didn’t lose again. Sure, the Wildcats lost to all the major conference teams they played early, but they certainly were not dominated by either of them.
Western Kentucky had victories over Michigan and Nebraska, before they even entered the tournament. Gonzaga escaped by 3, and Tennessee by 6, yet we still doubted the Hilltoppers in our brackets. They’re 20-2 since the new year began, but we never saw it coming. Or maybe we did see it, in little flashes of final scores on an ESPN ticker. We knew they were there, but unlike the basketball royalties, there was no official announcement of their arrival.
The Big East sent 8 teams to the Dance, and now going into the Sweet 16, the conference break down appears as follows:
Big East: (3) West Virginia, Louisville, Villanova
Pac 10: (3) UCLA, Washington State, Stanford
Big 12: (2) Kansas, Texas
Big 10: (2) Wisconsin, Michigan State
ACC: (1) North Carolina
SEC: (1) Tennessee
C-USA: (1) Memphis
Sunbelt: (1) Western Kentucky
A-10: (1) Xavier
Southern: (1) Davidson
Each year we’re told that the ACC is the best conference in college basketball, but it’s not often reflected in the postseason. With North Carolina sitting as the lone member remaining from the ACC, their sweet 16 total is equal to C-USA, the Sunbelt, the Southern, and Atlantic 10 conferences. Does this mean we’ll have a different view of mid-majors in the future? No. Davidson and Western Kentucky will just be token “flukes” of March, and we’ll go right back to discrediting their conferences in October.

~ by Anthony on March 24, 2008.

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