I'm sure that all of you had Butler making the Final Four in your NCAA brackets--right? Not only did i not have the Bulldogs getting this far--I had them losing in the first round to UTEP. That's how much faith I had in the team that ran the table in the Horizon League this year.
It's actaully a bit unfair to call Butler a "Cinderella Team". They were ranked in the top ten in one of the pre-season polls--so plenty of people thought they had some of the best talent in the country. But any time a team from one of the "Non BCS Conferences" make a run in the tourney, we all act like they are some miracle--like they don't belong.
And don't you find it ironic that the term "Non BCS Conference Team" has replaced the old "Mid-Major" tag for teams like Butler. It sort of sums up perfectly the glaring difference between the NCAA Tournament--which everyone loves and looks forward to every year--and the Bowl Championship Series--which everyone (but university presidents) dispises. You're telling me that people wouldn't be as excited to see Boise State or Miami of Ohio challenging for the college football championship in January as they are to see teams like Butler, George Mason and Gonzaga make runs in March?
It's just too bad the Bulldogs have to play Michigan State in the Final Four. I am really coming to consider Tom Izzo as one of the best college basketball coaches ever. 12 years on the job--6 Final Fours. That's a pretty darn good ratio. If you go to play for Izzo you have a 50/50 chance of making the Final Four every year. And this year might be his best coaching job ever--given the injuries and limited offensive talent he has on the squad. Why couldn't one of these teams get Duke in the semifinals--so we can send the Blue Devils packing and make everyone happy.
While I'm on the subject of the Tournament--can we please dump the idea of expanding the field to 96? While proponents claim it will give more small schools a shot to make the tourney--we all know those extra spots will go to teams with .500 records--or worse-- in the major conferences. Did we really need to have Northwestern in the tournament this year? This isn't youth soccer--everyone doesn't have to go home with a participation trophy to make them feel better about themselves.
Here is one tournament format change for the NCAA to consider: Form an all-star team of the 63 other schools in the Women's field to take on UConn for the championship. 76 straight wins--everyone of them by double digits--with an average margin of victory of more than 30-points. I know that we hate excellence now in America (guess I should have called them the Greedy UConn Huskies) but just take a few minutes on Sunday or Tuesday to appreciate the best team of all time in their sport as they dismantle two more opponents.