Thursday, April 01, 2010

NCAA Tourney notes

Some quick Tournament notes as we go to the Final Four.

First, as bad as the Big East did this year, with Syracuse, Villanova, Pitt, Georgetown, Notre Dame and Marquette all underperforming their seedings by a combined nine rounds, this is just the second time since the 1985 Tournament that the Big East has had a team in the Final Four in consecutive years (2003-2004, SU and UConn won the national title).

Despite both its prominence and its proliferation of top 4 seedings since 1985, the Big East has only had 11 Final Four teams and no team from the Big East has reached consecutive Final Fours in the last 25 years. In the last 25 years, Duke has reached 11 Final Fours, North Carolina has made nine, Kansas and Michigan State have reached six.

Second, Duke's drought of five straight non-Final Four seasons was the longest since the start of Coach K's coaching stint at Duke. As I noted earlier, Duke has lost to a lower seed in each of the last five Tournaments, including a couple of real flops. In 2006, Florida had not reached a Final Four in six years, had lost to a lower seed in five consecutive Tourneys (with far worse choke jobs than Duke) and rolled to a title. That title cleared the choker label off of the Gators and a similar finish by Duke would curb Coach K's critics who say he hasn't recruited the talent level he needs to win a title (I've said that myself).

Third, I'm not cheering for the Big East entrant. I don't like Huggins, and never have. He's a class A SOB and I agree with Rick Reilly's reasoning. I'm actually cheering for a Michigan State-Duke final because the best coaches should be matching wits next Monday.

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