Because the NCAA Tournament doesn't. Billy Packer and Jim Nantz asserted at the end of the Florida-Villanova game that this tournament, at least through, the first two weeks, has been the greatest ever. I would tend to agree just based on the number of games that went down to the wire and the parity shown by bouncing all four #1 seeds. As every tournament starts, you always ask it to show you something you have never seen before whether it be unbelievable finishes or some sort of incredible Cinderella story. This one has given us every bit of that to the point my BRACKET IS DONE. I HAVE NO TEAM LEFT. And stangely I am at peace. Here are my thoughts on this wackiest of Final Fours.
George Freakin' Mason
On Selection Sunday when George Mason was revealed as the #11 seed in the East, everyone, including this blogger, said it was a bad pick. GM had lost to Hofstra twice in the final two weeks of the season and since both teams were virutally the same on paper, one would have thought that Hofstra would have gotten the nod. That turns out to have been wrong and whether the fact the George Mason's AD was on the committee had something to do with their bid. So here is a team that by all accounts has no business being in the tournament, especially considering their starting guard Tony Skin had been suspended for striking another player in the groin during a CAA Tournament game. Now, in one respect beating a #6 and #3 is not as big of a deal since that has been done numerous times. GM then got a #7 seed in Wichita St and that was definitely a winnable game. But, playing a #1 seed long considered to be the best team in the tournament was supposed to be the end of the road. In fact GM was down 9 at halftime and all signs pointed to UConn being firmly in control. The Patriots do two things well. They play great defense and they also have a very efficient and deliberate offense. As was the case against UNC, which is built in a similar manner as UConn, GM fed the post and worked for a good shot, even if it meant using the whole shot clock.
The shocking aspect of this upset is not the fact that an #11 seed has made the Final Four, since that has already been done in 1986 by #11 LSU. And even though LSU took a tougher road that year having to beat a #6,#3,#2, and #1 to get to Dallas, LSU is also a major program and part of a major conference. George Mason is a member of the Colonial Athletic Conference which prior to this season was a one bid league via the automatic bid. George Mason has only been in the NCAA Tournament four times including this season. This consitutes the first time since 1979 a mid-major conference team has been to the Final Four. The expectation was for GM to fold under the pressure of the regional final. UConn was compared to last season's UNC team on talent level. The only thing UConn has in common with UNC now is they both lost to George Mason in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Can I Get Some Offense?
Duke scored only 54 points in their loss to LSU. The UCLA-Memphis regional final produced a total of 95 points. Villanova-Boston College were tied at 51 at the end of regulation and the Texas-LSU regional final was tied at 52 at the same point. While there have been games which have produced fairly nominal scores, it is my observation that more games are falling on the low end of the scoring range. The root cause seems to be bad shooting all around. The shooting percentages have been horrible. Duke shot 27% for example and teams like Villanova and Memphis failed to find the bottom of the nets in their regional finals. It also seems that this season was replete with schools willing to execute their offenses at a more deliberate pace. Defense has also been excellence but it also seems like players just are shooting well.
How many people thought that the SEC would get two teams to Indianopolis followed by the Pac 10 and the CAA? Not many. Now, the ACC did not do well and was out by Elite Eight. Then again the ACC was not billed as a superconference with a record 8 bids. Say hello to the Big East with all the hype, two #1 seeds, and no Final Four teams. How about the Big 10 who lost all its teams by the end of the first weekend. The Big 12 had only Texas left and they went home on Saturday. So props to the SEC for getting two teams in and setting up a possible all SEC final. The PAC-10 is often on the raw end of any discussion involving conference prowess and UCLA is there and Washington played UConn toe-to-toe. The CAA? It will never happen again.
Unforuntate Quote of the Day: "I am a fighter" Tony Skinn(George Mason) who was suspended for punching another player in the groin during the CAA Tournament.
Unforunate Quote of the Day II: "We have a tapeworm in our stomach" Glen Davis(LSU) in describing how LSU was still hungry to win a national title.
The "Wow Don't We Feel Better Now" Award goes to anyone who lost to George Mason prior to Sunday.
Only one time in the history of the NCAA Tournament has a Final Four excluded all four #1 seeds and that was in 1980 when #2 Louisville won the title over #8 UCLA. #5 Iowa and #6 Purdue were the semifinal losers.
This is the first time in the 64 team era that at least one #1 seed has not been at the Final Four.
Based on seeding, this is the third weakest Final Four field with a seed total of 20. 1980 was the second weakest at 21 and the 2000 Final Four with a #1, #5, and a pair of #8 seeds register a total of 22. Incidentally the strongest Final Four field was 1993 with three #1 seeds and a #2. The 1999 and 1997 Final Fours also included three #1 seeds and a #4 seed. Al four #1 seeds have never made it to the Final Four in one tournament.
This is only the fifth Final Four in the last 20 years that does not include Duke or UNC. Only the fourth that is absent an ACC school. And the last time the ACC or Big East did not have an school in the Final Four? 1980.
At this point George Mason could win the whole thing. And that is why we love the NCAA Tournament.