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Archive for the category “March Madness”

TJ Warren is ACC Player of the Year

TJ Warren has won the ACC Player of the Year award, a very bright spot in what has been a so-so season, though IMHO a much better one than last year.

Warren led the league in scoring at 24.8 ppg and while many fans and media thought the award would go to Duke’s Jabari Parker, Warren’s win is justifiable.  It is pretty clear that without the sophomore’s nearly automatic scoring touch the Pack could not have achieved 19 wins and a .500 conference record.  He scored 81 points in his last two games, so he is peaking at the right time. Read more…

ACC Basketball: A Decade in Review and Prediction for the New ACC

The ACC records for the last decade of football was posted by acaffrey earlier this week so I thought it would be fun to see the numbers for the basketball side of the conference.  I believe the biggest surprise over the last decade of ACC basketball has been the emergence of Florida State as the third winningest program in the conference behind Duke and North Carolina, a period that includes an ACC tournament championship for the Noles.

1. Duke 123-39 76%:  Arguable one of the most successful decades in conference history.  Duke has won at least 10 conference games in 9 of the last 10 years.  During the last decade Duke has won one NCAA title, 3 ACC Regular Season titles, and 6 ACC Tournament titles.

2. North Carolina 117-45 72%:  The baby blue (UNC) and navy blue (Duke) have dominated the conference in hoops.  Although Duke has a better conference record, North Carolina won 2 NCAA titles during the Roy Williams era (which started in 2003-04).  The Heels have also won 6 ACC Regular Season titles and 2 ACC Tournament titles during that time.

3.  Florida State 85-77 52%:  How in the world did the biggest name in ACC college football climb so high in the basketball centric ACC?  Leonard Hamilton.  Hamilton’s teams consistently play above their talent level through hard work and relentless defense.  However, FSU could be hit the hardest from the most recent conference expansion as the competition for 3rd place in the conference gets considerably tougher.

Read more…

I’m Andrew Wiggins, and I’m a __________

At North Carolina, we have an awesome set of videos at the Dean Smith Center. During men’s basketball games, former Tar Heel greats appear on the video board in a montage where they take turns saying- I’m __________, and I’m a Tar Heel. Michael Jordan. Rasheed Wallace. Jerry Stackhouse. Antawn Jamison. Vince Carter. Tyler Hansbrough. It’s incredible. But there’s one guy that I want to see up there that isn’t there yet- Andrew Wiggins.

By now, you know who he is. The consensus #1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. The best high school prospect since Lebron James. A guy they call “Maple Jordan.” Tomorrow is possibly the biggest day of the entire offseason for college basketball fans. At 12:15pm in a “low-key” ceremony, Wiggins will announce his decision between North Carolina, Florida State, Kentucky and Kansas. But where will he go?

I’m not sure. His coach says he’s not sure. Maybe even Wiggins himself doesn’t know….yet. But the official signing day window closes on Wednesday, so Wiggins is doing his due diligence and announcing at the last minute. In my opinion, there’s only one real option, and that’s to go to North Carolina. Stay with me, I know what you’re thinking. This guy’s name is “Mr. Tar Heel.” He’s a Carolina grad. He lives near Chapel Hill. OF COURSE he wants Wiggins to go to North Carolina. But no, really. It’s his best option.

Think about it. North Carolina is returning a suddenly veteran team with Marcus Paige, PJ Hairston and James Michael McAdoo. They’re receiving big-man help in top prospects Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks. They have an opening in the starting lineup that just happens to be at Wiggins’ position. And not only that, but the spot was vacated by a player from Kinston, NC- Wiggin’s father’s hometown. Wiggins’ North Carolina roots run deep. His father was raised here. He almost went to prep school here. And his father grew up wanting to play for North Carolina, only to be turned down by the legendary Dean Smith. So maybe the Wiggins’ family has a chip on their shoulder, I don’t know. Maybe his father still hates North Carolina? Or maybe he wants his son to realize the dream that he always had; to play on the biggest stage, with the best players, against the top teams. North Carolina is the only place he can do this.

If you ask anyone who’s not from the United States to name a college basketball player, they’ll almost always go back to Michael Jordan. Why? Because not only was he greatest ever, but he was the most visible ever. He made himself a brand. THE brand of college basketball. North Carolina is one of the most recognizable, if not THE most recognizable brands in all of college sports. Lebron James is on record stating that he wanted to go there. So is Kobe Bryant. And Dwight Howard. It’s not hard to see that Wiggins might like to be a part of that legend. So why not? Without Wiggins, the team’s ceiling is high for next year. With Wiggins, it’s immeasurable. Where else can he have this kind of schedule?-

Conference                        Non-Conference

Duke (twice)                      Kentucky

NC State (twice)               Michigan State

Syracuse                              Louisville (possible Hall of Fame Tip-off matchup)

Notre Dame (twice)




The answer? Nowhere. That’s basically a who’s who of NCAA tournament success past and present. And as any North Carolina fan knows, you can go ahead and add Kansas to that list too because the NCAA will continue to match us up with them in the Tournament until they disband. To be a star on the biggest stage, Wiggins has to be on the biggest stage.

He can’t do that at Kentucky. Sure, there’s a lot of hype surrounding John Calipari’s program right now. But did anyone watch last year’s NIT flame-out fiasco? It’s not like those players weren’t the top recruiting class either! Having great players doesn’t guarantee success. You have to have a great TEAM. Kentucky just hasn’t shown that, there’s too much ego. After all, Calipari just isn’t the kind of coach that people give him credit for. The reason he gets so many players to the NBA isn’t because he develops prospects into NBA stars. It’s not his own doing. These guys are ALREADY NBA-ready players. He just babysits them for one semester. If they didn’t have to go to college, they wouldn’t. The one reason they probably stay? Money. Yes, I said it! Think about it. What other coach has gotten so many Final Fours vacated? Right, Calipari stands alone. There has to be something going on. Of course he wasn’t “implicated” in any of the charges, but that’s a weak excuse. Neither was Butch Davis, or Cam Newton, but don’t tell me those guys didn’t do anything wrong. There was money exchanged. And the sin of omission is just as bad as the sin of commission. You can’t claim ignorance if it’s your job to know. If anything, John Calipari is guilty as charged with the utmost gross negligence. It’s his program. He should know what’s going on. Is he a bad coach? Absolutely not. It takes talent to get to the level that he’s on. Is he a nice guy? Maybe, I’m not sure, I’ve never met him. But he isn’t the Midas of the NBA draft. Kentucky isn’t guaranteed a title next year. Williams and Self are the better coaches in this bunch anyway.

But Kansas just doesn’t seem like a great fit for Wiggins either. The Big 12 is weak, and no, Marcus Smart’s return doesn’t change that. It only makes it a two-horse race. Kansas will probably walk through the conference again like they always do, because there’s really no competition outside of a few teams. The Jayhawks also lost a lot from last year’s squad. They just don’t have the veteran presence of some of the other teams on Wiggin’s list. Not to mention that there’s an ongoing scandal surrounding last year’s top player Ben McLemore now. Does Wiggins really want to be associated with that? What if the NCAA comes down hard on the Jayhawks in his only season? Don’t get me wrong, Bill Self IS a great coach. I’ve seen that enough times by watching his team beat my team in the NCAA tournament. But why go to a place that he really has no connection to? No family, no history, and really, a weaker roster than some of his other choices. It just doesn’t make sense.

Which brings me to Florida State. If he was going to go there because of his family connection, why didn’t he just decide that a long time ago? That would have saved a lot of people a lot of time, and a lot of money. It makes you wonder. One thing the Noles have going for them is a very similar schedule to North Carolina. In fact, they get to play North Carolina while the Tar Heels have to play an FSU team that looks weak with the loss of sharpshooter Michael Snaer. But if that wasn’t enough, Wiggins’ best friend Xavier Rathan-Mayes has already signed on to move to Tallahassee. So maybe that is enough for Wiggins. I’m a family guy, so I can totally respect that. I’d even cheer for him when he wasn’t playing North Carolina. But even with Wiggins, the Noles aren’t a Final Four contender. Sure, they’d be better. A LOT better. But they just don’t have the firepower, or experience needed to go all the way.

So what will he do? We’ll find out tomorrow afternoon. I hope that whatever he chooses, he’s happy. Certainly, everyone hopes for that. As a North Carolina fan and graduate, I’d love for him to come to my school. But if he didn’t, I wouldn’t regret it. I just hope he wouldn’t either.

ACC Fans… Are You Rooting For Syracuse and Louisville?

There is no secret here… Syracuse is joining the ACC later in 2013 and Louisville will be joining in 2014.  While the two went to bowls games this past season in football, both schools are known for having near-elite, if not elite, basketball programs.  It is not the least bit surprising that Syracuse and Louisville are part of this Final Four.  The question is whether YOU, the grizzled ACC fan raised on a rivalry with the Big East, will be rooting for Syracuse.

The Confidential will argue that you should  A Syracuse-Louisville matchup will look that much better for the 2013-2014 preseason.  Recruiting battles can be won by these two schools if they meet in the Championship game. Sure, these recruiting battles may be won anyway–but why not want them to have every edge.  You WANT these programs to be good.

The SEC is a great football conference because it is so very deep.  The Big East has been a great basketball conference because of its depth.  The ACC needs to put together that kind of basketball depth too.  The football should be deep, but it just is not there yet. Until the football teams rise up in out-of-conference games and the best programs stop getting upset, the ACC will have to ride its basketball teams.

Well, that starts this weekend.   Syracuse and Louisville may not have placed in the ACC standings in 2012-2013 (except here, of course), but they will be soon enough.  The better they do, the better for the ACC.

So you tell us… if you are not a fan of Syracuse or Louisville, are you going to be rooting for your future ACC brethren this weekend?


NCAA Tournament- Final Four Conference Breakdown

The tickets to Atlanta have been punched, and this time, only two major conferences remain. What’s left is a who’s who of the future of the ACC, an upstart underdog and a Michigan team that looks a lot like the Fab Five. Let’s see how they got there.


Tournament Teams (4)- Duke, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State

Remaining Tournament Teams (0)-

Verdict- No one was going to beat Louisville after what happened to Kevin Ware. No one. Not Duke, not the Miami Heat. No one. The raw emotion that Ware’s gruesome injury caused among his teammates, his coach and the crowd, were just too much to overcome for the Blue Devils. So while they went mostly cold in the second half, they can hang their heads high. After all, the season ended in a much better way than last year’s first-round flameout against Lehigh. An Elite Eight, while the standard for such a high-level program, is still an accomplishment. Coach K loses highly-productive seniors Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry this offseason, but he reloads next year with a class headed by #2 recruit Jabari Parker.

Big East

Tournament Teams (8)- Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Syracuse, Marquette

Remaining Tournament Teams (2)- Louisville, Syracuse

Verdict-  We should really just merge this section with the  one for the ACC, but we won’t, because the Big East deserves one last send-off. It really is incredible that a conference that had such a bad first round has been able to rebound with such a great Final Four. It’s things like this that make the Tournament so incredible , and it’s what we’ll miss so much when basketball season ends. Syracuse looked impressive in a 55-39 sleeper against soon-to-be former conference rival Marquette, while Louisville cruised to an emotional win over soon-to-be conference rival Duke in the Elite Eight. Both teams have the potential to go all the way, and they proved this during this past round, but Louisville has the better matchup on paper this weekend. Since both remaining teams will be heading to Greensboro in the next few years, we’re not sure what type of foundation this leaves the “new” Big East…

 Big Ten

Tournament Teams (7)- Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois

Remaining Tournament Teams (1)-  Michigan

 Verdict- And one remains. The story all year has been about how great the Big Ten is, and here we are, with Michigan in the Final Four. Does this silence the critics? It’s hard to tell. The Wolverines have a lot to prove, but they look up to the challenge. Sunday’s game against Florida proved that they ‘re capable of handling elite teams and hanging with high-level programs. That’s a good sign. And it’s not to say that Michigan isn’t a high-level program too, but they haven’t experienced the same kind of success that the Gators have recently. That’s just a fact. Michigan is really quite an interesting team. They’re a talented team, but they’re not a surprise team like Wichita State. They’ve been a good team, but they weren’t expected to be here like Louisville. Can they finally bring a banner back to Ann Arbor? This time they won’t have to take it down…


Tournament Teams (3) – Missouri, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky

Remaining Tournament Teams (0)-

Verdict- It’s hard to explain what happened to Florida. They just…couldn’t do it. They’re definitely as talented as Michigan. And Billy Donovan is a great coach. But sometimes it’s just not mean to be. Teams come out cold. They lose focus. They get in a hole early. And that’s what happened to Florida on Sunday. Unfortunately for them, it meant the end of their season. And unfortunately for the SEC, it meant the end of their tournament. While the conference may never be a hoops powerhouse, Kentucky once again becomes a team to watch in 2014. If they’re able to add Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins, they just might cut down the nets again next year. Not bad for a team that couldn’t even win one game in the NIT.

It all ends in less than a week. It’s been an exciting basketball season, and it really is too bad that it’s almost over. While there haven’t been any truly exceptional teams this year, the parity seen has created one of the most unpredictable tournaments in years. Don’t be surprised if the Shockers win it all on Monday.

The Other Final Four Story

Update II: Disregard the below.  The CBI is a 3-game format.  Good grief. 

Update: Congratulations to the Broncos of Santa Clara for winning the CBI.

THE FINAL FOUR is in Atlanta this weekend.  But it is not the only final four in March.  There are three other tournaments, including the venerable National Invitational Tournament (the “NIT”), still ongoing.  The other two tournaments are the CIT and the CBI.  There are more champions to be crowned.

For the NIT, Big 10 basketball is coming to your television set tomorrow.  Although it is unclear who televises the NIT, the NIT semifinals include a barn-burner between Iowa-Maryland.  It is a barn-burner in the sense that, if Iowa loses, they will set their barns on fire.  Maryland, cash poor after being incompetently run for a long long time in the ACC for all these years, does not even have barns.  Yet.  So this is far from a true, double-barn barn-burner.  In any event, this matchup promises to be a preview of all the great Maryland-Iowa rivalry games to be seen in the future.  Jim Delaney must be so very proud.

If one game has a rather plain Big 10 aftertaste, the other game has some Big XII intrigue.  Current Big XII power Baylor takes on a school that most expansion experts like to shift right into a non-existent Big XII vacancy, Brigham Young University.  So we are looking at an NIT final–on whatever day the NIT final is–between teams between the Big 10 (kinda) and the Big XII (OK, a stretch).  One of these teams will take home the crown of being #69.  Commence giggling.

The CIT and CBI are both are past the final four stage.  The CIT is down to its final game, featuring a future member of the “Big East Leftovers,” East Carolina, and Weber State.  We are not sure what the CIT was thinking, they are holding this game on the same day as the NIT semifinals.  A lot of tough remote control decisions across America.

Did you know?  There is no state named Weber.  Weber State is in Utah. 

Meanwhile, the CBI, which may stand for the Cinderella Basketball Invitation, will hold a championship game between George Mason and Santa Clara.  Santa Clara made a name for itself by beating #2 seed, Arizona, in the 1993 Big Dance.  George Mason made a name for itself a few years ago, with a magical run to the Final Four.

Did you know?  The CBI Tournament Championship Game was actually last night.  Do you know who won?  Seriously, let us know.  It’s hard to find the scores on 

While the festivities in Atlanta promise to be memorable this weekend, just remember that there are other tournaments wrapping up.  We’ll even let you root for Maryland.  It would be cute if they won something, even if they do end up pawning the trophy to buy socks for their lacrosse team.

The ACC Has At Least Two Final Four Teams to Root For

As the march to Georgia Tech’s hometown of Atlanta continues, fans of the ACC can be certain that they will have at least two teams to root for.  By beating Marquette handily in yesterday’s Elite 8 game, Syracuse ensured that there will be someone from on that side of the bracket to root for.  Meanwhile, there is no doubt that one of Duke or Louisville will be heading to Atlanta too.  So ACC fans can be certain that they will have a rooting interest for two of the teams next weekend.  But that just leads to two more questions.

#1.  Who are you rooting for in today’s game between the Blue Devils and the Cardinals?

For Duke fans, that is easy.  For Louisville fans, that is easy.  But if you are a fan of one of the other thirteen schools, who are you going to be cheering for?  Is the Duke hatred so strong that you are leaning Louisville?  As a future ACC member, it would be fine to root for Louisville anyway.  Then again, they currently represent the Big East (or the leftovers, or whatever they are being called right now)?  And then there is the coaches–some people have strong feelings about Coach K and Rick Pitino.  The one thing that is clear is that both are excellent coaches.  Should be a great game today.

#2. A similar question arises out of the Michigan-Florida matchup.

The Big 10 is becoming the New York Yankees of college sports–throwing their money around without any regard for making sound decisions or the “Butterfly Effect” impact on the rest of college sports.  If that is not bad enough, how can anyone root for the Michigan Wolverines?  The cockiest of all the Big 10 fanbases, the program brought us the Fab 5, and then sanctions for apparently having bought the Fab 5.  And the football team is full of self-worth and entitlement, despite once thinking that hiring Greg Robinson was a step in the right direction for a defense.  But the other option is Florida–rival to Florida State and Miami.  Not exactly the most modest of fan bases either.  And Billy Donovan had his own core of players that, much like the Fab 5, provided two years of outstanding play.  At the very least, it is difficult to dislike Billy Donovan and his Michigan counterpart, John Beilein.

So, you tell us, who are you rooting for in today’s Elite 8 matchups?

NCAA Tournament- Elite Eight Conference Breakdown

Eight teams remain. Just like that, the field has been cut in half again. After an up-and-down second round filled with blowouts and surprises, the Sweet Sixteen proved to be just as exciting, producing the Tournament’s first overtime game. Are these the best eight teams in the country? Maybe, maybe not. But they’re the best eight in this tournament.


Tournament Teams (4)- Duke, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State

Remaining Tournament Teams (1)- Duke

Verdict- Miami just couldn’t take care of business. Forget that Reggie Johnson couldn’t play due to injury, this is a team that scored only 16-points in the first half of Thursday’s loss against Marquette. That’s a not a winning formula. Now they must seek to replace departing seniors Julian Gamble,  Kenny Kadji, Garrius Adams, Trey McKinney-Jones, Durand Scott and Johnson, while dealing with the real possibility that star sophomore point guard Shane Larkin still has time to enter the NBA Draft. Looking at the team’s roster, that’s just about every single player who got significant minutes this season. They just didn’t capitalize on the rare experience that they had, and the opportunity to do so has passed. Duke, on the hand, is leaning hard on its veterans to great success, as five out the seven players in Duke’s tight rotation are upperclassmen. Led by senior wingman Seth Curry, the Blue Devils looked confident in their first win against Power-Six competition this tournament.  Say what you will about Duke always receiving favorable seeding (and they do, just look at the 2010 Championship cakewalk), but they don’t often lose to teams that they shouldn’t, and they have the ability to overachieve when they need to. Next up is a strong Louisville team, which will be a preview of future ACC matchups when the Cardinals officially join the conference in 2014. With powerful scorers on both sides, look for this to be the most exciting game of Sunday’s lineup.

Big 12

Tournament Teams (5)- Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas

Remaining Tournament Teams (0)-

Verdict- With just three minutes left in the Jayhawks’ game against Michigan, it looked like the boys from Lawrence were going to walk their way into the next round of the Big Dance. A healthy lead, and a favorable clock, were only two of the factors working in their favor. But then they worked against themselves. They got lazy. They got content. That’s when Trey Burke took over. After a scoreless first half, he exploded in the second half, and made a capped off Michigan’s unlikely run when he made a three-pointer to tie the game with 4.3 seconds left. The Big 12 has now been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. It’s easy to think that the ceiling for this Kansas team was higher, but they lost focus when it counted the most. And it cost them their season.

Big East

Tournament Teams (8)- Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Villanova, Georgetown, Syracuse, Marquette

Remaining Tournament Teams (3)- Louisville, Syracuse, Marquette

Verdict- Suddenly, the Big East has gone from an afterthought, to a real threat in this tournament (if you ignore the fact that Louisville and Syracuse are now ACC teams). Marquette didn’t just hang on in this round, as they had against Davidson and Butler, they destroyed a hapless Miami team that fell to the inconsistency that has plagued them all season. Louisville and Syracuse looked strong in wins over tough competition, with the Orange taking out the second number one seed, the Indian Hoosiers. In the Elite Eight, the Big East will face a problem that it often encounters this time of year- Syracuse and Marquette are playing each other, which means that only two Big East teams can advance to the Final Four.  With a tough matchup against a veteran Duke team, the Louisville Cardinals must stay focused if they want to make it to Atlanta too.

 Big Ten

Tournament Teams (7)- Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois

Remaining Tournament Teams (2)-  Ohio State, Michigan

 Verdict- For the first time since the Fab Five, Michigan will be in the Elite Eight. Think about that for a minute. That’s twenty years. Where have they been? It’s hard not to be impressed with the program that John Beilein is building in Ann Arbor though, especially after an unlikely comeback against a dominant Kansas team. A once proud program, the Wolverines now carry the banner for the conference with their longtime rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes. While Big Ten fans will still point to their league’s dominance this year, their tournament success has now been eclipsed by the resurgent Big East, which has three teams still dancing. In order to defend the title of “best conference” bestowed on them this season, the Big Ten must come out strong in the Elite Eight. A favorable matchup against a well-coached Wichita State team could have Ohio State looking ahead at the wrong time, while Michigan needs to stay focused in order to not fall prey to their own success.


Tournament Teams (5)- Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, California, Colorado

Remaining Tournament Teams (0)-

Verdict- Much like the Big 12, the Pac-12 is now without a representative in the Big Dance. Neither loss was surprising, as both schools lost to higher-seeded teams. Yet, while Oregon can hang their heads high after a surprising run in the Tournament, Arizona probably can’t help but think that the opportunity to advance got away from them. Long before LaQuinton Ross’ last-second shot, an early 11-point lead quickly became only a four-point lead at halftime. The killer instinct seen in the first few minutes of the game, was replaced by a frantic effort to keep up, and the Wildcats just couldn’t hang on. While the conference might have had a better-than-expected tournament, it has to be disappointing nevertheless.


Tournament Teams (3) – Missouri, Ole Miss, Florida, Kentucky

Remaining Tournament Teams (1)- Florida

Verdict- Florida is now the bad guy. After taking out Tournament-darling, and pseudo in-state rival Florida Gulf Coast, the Gators now have a target on their back. Everyone loves a Cinderella. No one likes the team that beats them. In order to advance to the Final Four, Florida must embrace this role and run with it. They face a Michigan team that just completed a surprising run of its own; the unexpected Cinderella of the third round. If they can use their position as a strength, it would not be surprising to see the Gators in Atlanta next weekend.

It’s hard to believe that it took this long to get an overtime game in the Tournament. While there have been numerous buzzer-beaters, an all-out, grind-fest hasn’t been seen until now. Here’s to hoping that the Elite Eight can reach the bar that has just been set.

March Madness? More Like March Sadness

Well, we are down to 8 teams left for the NCAA Championship.  There are 347 teams that compete in Division 1 basketball.  Aside from the other post-season tournaments, there are 8 teams left.  What an amazing accomplishment for those teams.  March Madness can be the greatest of times.  But it really is also the worst of times.   A March Sadness, if you will.

Each year, there are 16 teams given 1 through 4 seeds.  If a #1 seed wins it all, that means that 15 of those 16 seeded teams will end the season with a loss.  In fact, 67 of the 68 teams in the Big Dance end the season with a loss.  All but one.

Of course, that happens in the NFL too.  And the other major sports have playoff series that end.  The difference with the pros is that those teams can, in theory, remain fully intact for the following year.  There is always “next year.”

There is no next year for college Seniors.  And if you are a very good college underclassman, there is no next year either.  It just makes it so…. “final.”  As a fan, it’s tough enough to know that this is the last time you will see that superstar.  But it is even harder to say goodbye to that 4-year Senior who went from a clueless Freshman to a capable Senior.  The guy who went from a boy to a man right in front of your eyes.  And then he loses, sheds tears on TV, and is gone.  Forever.  At least in that jersey.

And it is never easy.  Think being Georgetown is tough?  Losing to a 15-seed is embarrassing and difficult-to-stomach.  But what about Indiana–a #1 seed losing to ANYONE is tough.  They were, in theory, “supposed to beat” Syracuse.  And now it’s over.  It is not limited to being a high seed.  Pittsburgh and North Carolina State had low expectations and exited without much fanfare.  It’s still ending the season with a loss.

Of course, some team will lose in the National Championship and consider THAT to be the worst-type of defeat.  Syracuse fans still mourn the Keith Smart shot–even though they were the last team to taste the bitter pill of defeat in 1987.  They may have lost on a shot with a few seconds left, but everyone else was at home.  Syracuse had it better than all but one team.  And yet there is only painful memories.  So there is nothing great about losing late.  Or early.  Or in the middle.  It’s all about losses.  And yet the late losses sting the most.  So as the teams continue to win, the emotions increase.  The desire to win is as much to taste victory as it is to stave off the inevitable sadness that all but one fanbase will be forced to suffer through.  What a paradox!

March Madness may be the greatest event in sports, but one cannot help but notice just how much sadness permeates the whole process.  For this year’s crop of Elite 8, losing this weekend means no Final Four.  It means walking off the court as the net-cutting ladder is coming on.  The only consolation is that you did not have to endure the same thing on the final night of the season.  Maybe the bowl season is not so bad after all?


Sweet Sixteen: The Best Cinderellas in the Modern Era

The Cleveland Fan has put together a list of the top 40 Cinderellas since 1979.  40?  Must be an homage to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame.  Regardless, the Confidential does not like the list very much.

First–take Kansas, Villanova, and North Carolina State off.   Those teams did not overachieve in the post-season.  They underachieved during the regular season.  That Villanova team was stacked with talent, including experienced players that were ideal for their positions.  Besides, Cinderella cannot come from a major conference.

Second, here is the remaining list:


Sweet 16 of All-Time Cinderella teams:

  1. George Mason (2006) – Seed #11 / Finish: Final Four–including an epic defeat of #1 UConn along the way.
  2. VCU (2011) – Seed: #11 / Finish: Final Four–an outstanding run, especially from the play-in game.
  3. Butler (2010): Seed #5 / Finish Finals Runner-Up–the seed is a bit high for a Cinderella, but look at the great teams they beat along the way.
  4. Davidson (2008) – Seed: #9 / Finish: Elite Eight
  5. Gonzaga (1999) – Seed: #10 / Finish: Elite Eight
  6. Louisiana State (1986) – Seed: #11 / Finish: Final Four
  7. Florida Gulf Coast (2013)–Seed #15/ Finish: TBD
  8. Loyola Marymount (1990) – Seed #11 / Finish: Elite Eight
  9. Kent State (2002) – Seed: #10 / Finish: Elite Eight
  10. Xavier (2004) – Seed: #7 / Finish: Elite Eight
  11. LaSalle (2013): Seed #14 / Finish: TBD
  12. Northern Iowa (2010) – Seed: #9 / Finish: Sweet Sixteen
  13. Butler (2011) – Seed: #8 / Finish: Finals Runner-Up
  14. Tennessee-Chattanooga(1997) – Seed: #14 / Finish: Sweet Sixteen
  15. Cleveland State (1986) – Seed: #14 / Finish: Sweet Sixteen
  16. Valparaiso (1998) – Seed: #13 / Finish: Sweet Sixteen

How did we do? Did we miss anyone?  Disagree?

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