Monday, March 24, 2014

March Madness concludes 1st week amid carnage and chaos - Sweet 16 left standing


After the first two rounds the NCAA March Madness has all the makings of the Mad Hatters Tea Party with upsets aplenty and about half the games last second thrillers and the other half last second laughers.

So what team is playing far better than their NCAA seeding?  Kentucky, of course, along with Louisville.  These are the defending national champions of the last two years and one of the greatest rivalries in America yet they were seeded 8th, Kentucky and 4th, Louisville.

I think there is a media bias against Kentucky teams most likely because they are dominant forces in basketball.  Certainly it is not from the fact Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky although didn't the Civil War end about 150 years ago?  Or not?

Anyway the tournament selection committee clearly does not like freshman dominated teams any more than the Associated Press basketball poll.  John Calipari's "One and Done" coaching philosophy of recruiting freshman who will jump to the pros rather than finish college is quite controversial to say the least.

So in the last AP poll of the season before the tournament Kentucky was no where to be found among the top 25.  Even the USA Today/ESPN experts poll had Kentucky far down at number 21.  Louisville fared better finishing number 5 in AP and 4 in USA Today/ESPN.

So there are 4 number one seeds, one from each region.  One might think the top four teams in the rankings would be the top four teams.  Louisville was in the top four in USA Today/ESPN and #5 in AP so should have been seeded 1, or 2 at worst since the top 8 teams should be number 1 or 2.  Louisville landed number 4.  What is that all about?

Ashley Judd loves UK
As for UK who did not even make the top 25 in the minds of the sports writers, a week ago they lost to the number one team in America, Florida, in the SEC conference championship in the last second 61-60 and a week later they beat Wichita State, seeded #1 and ranked #2 in the nation, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, 78-76 ending the Shockers quest for a national title.

No doubt it will be remembered as one of the best fought games in NCAA tournament history and both teams fought valiantly and could have won but the Kentucky Wildcats did win.  What the newspaper writers forgot to mention, however, when telling us how great Kentucky has become in spite of having all freshmen as starters, is they didn't even think enough of UK to put them in the top 25 and they seeded them way down at 8th.

When was the last time an unranked team played the number 1 and 2 teams within a week losing by 1 point and winning by two points?  Are you kidding me?  The people doing the polls for national rankings and tournament seedings should go into politics where everybody knows the polls are nonsense.

Now the press hype will turn to the Kentucky - Louisville game next Friday at Indianapolis, just across the border from Kentucky.  Not only is it s bitter rivalry but both coaches, John Calipari of UK and Rick Pitino of Louisville have won national championships.  In fact both won national championships for UK, then Pitino won another last year for Louisville.  It will be entertaining.

Other notable survivors doing quite well were Arizona and Virginia, both seeded #1.  Florida struggled but also advanced.  There are still 2 #11 seeds, 1 #10 seed and 1 #8 seed left in the Sweet 16.  Giant killer Dayton, coached by Archie Miller, brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller, is the most valid Cinderella team and if both teams keep winning the brothers would meet in the championship game.

Before the season started I wrote a profile on Kentucky basketball saying we should watch both schools and both the men's and women's teams this year.  So here we are at tourney time and UK and Louisville are about to square off in a classic quarter-final battle to see who gets to the semi-finals while the women's teams, both UK and Louisville, survived the women's first rounds and both are seeded #3, a testament to Kentucky basketball and of course the foresight of the Coltons Point Times.

Just kidding...

PS  As much as I like the UK Wildcats, my heart remains with the Arizona Wildcats where long ago I once played.

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