Monday, March 12, 2012

March Madness Begins as Top 25 fall like Dominos


It was the Mad Hatters Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland where all is not what it seems this last week of the college basketball season before the beginning of March Madness this Thursday.

As the top 25 college teams finished their regular season and headed into the conference tournaments, the last warm up before March madness, there were high hopes for a successful post season launch.

Of course the field was filled with the usual characters that have dominated college basketball for the past 500 years as you can see from the standings, with most top ten teams old hands in March Madness.  Here was the top 25:

Top 25

4.North Carolina
7.Ohio St.
8.Michigan St.
11.Murray St.
16.Wichita St.
17.Florida St.
18.San Diego St.
23.Notre Dame
25.Iowa St.

Before the long week was over and the NCAA field was set on Sunday night absolute carnage raged as 21 of the top 25 teams lost.  That may very well be a new record in NCAA history with 84% of the top 25 teams losing the last week of the season.

The biggest upset of all went to Vanderbilt from Nashville as they upset #1 Kentucky in the SEC finals.  But 9 of the top 10 lost, only Missouri survived.  The four who did not lose in the top 25, in red, still lost 19 games between them during the season.

In terms of which are the smartest teams, The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, at the University of Central Florida, calculated the six-year graduation results for athletes who entered school during the 2003 and 2004 school years. The analysis does not count players who left college early to play professional basketball.

Only the following teams have graduated 100 percent of their basketball team members, Belmont, Brigham Young, Notre Dame and Villanova.  Vanderbilt awarded degrees to 93 percent of its players.  This was as of last year so maybe we will get to see how smart the teams are this year.

Ironically, Vanderbilt, the upset winner over Kentucky, is known more for the mind than the muscle as they won just their first SEC conference tourney title in 61 years.  Yes, Truman was president the last time they won.

The first round opponent for Vandy is the other egg head team of the tourney, Harvard, who has not played in the tournament since 1946, a 66 year absence.  It was in keeping with the other first-time achievements this season for the Crimson, who cracked the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time, and clinched their first outright Ivy League title since 1946.

This could be the most balanced and/or upset prone field in years as Kentucky, who appeared to be a notch above the rest all season, seemed to run out of gas in the SEC tourney.

Stay tuned to more from Wonderland.

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